On the blog Venezuelan Sayings, illustrator Daisy Patton creates images of typical Venezuelan expressions and translates them into English. In her illustrations, readers can see personal interpretations of traditional sayings full of color and humor, which reflect a candid vision of a culture that seeks to understand another through the use of colloquial language.
In the description of the blog, Daisy explains:
My Venezuelan husband often uses colloquialisms from his culture to describe situations we find ourselves in. These are my illustrations of them. Consider them “más criollo que una arepa” [“more local than an arepa“]
We also chatted with Daisy via email. There she told us a few things about the creation of the blog and also about the difficulties and joys of translating not only the language but also the context:
I've been with my husband for almost 8 años [years], and he would frequently translate dichos [sayings] into English, leaving me very confused. Because the Venezuelan sayings are so distinctive, I started writing them down to share with our friends, since they seem so different but wonderfully imaginative. The project has grown from just being the refranes he's said to suggestions from Venezuelans all over the world now. I see it now as a collaborative project that is collecting this cultural ephemera, with the understanding that I'm of course an outsider looking in.
Regarding the translation work, Daisy says:
It's hard to explain puns, slang, or things that reference something historically or locally known, like games, locations, or historical figures, regardless of language. Much of the time, when my husband Enrique has said a dicho [phrase], I have no idea what he means at all without some explanation (such as me dieron gato por liebre/I was given cat instead of hare), while others make sense once you hear them (like la última coca-cola del desierto/last Coke in the desert).
On the variety and differences of the phrases, Daisy comments the following:
I've learned a great deal about how variable and interesting Venezuelan culture is just from [the variety of sayings]. Anything from exact meaning, to wording, can be slightly or completely different, depending on generation and location. I've had many people contact me to either tell me that I was wrong, or that they've never heard of one, or that they're common in other Latin American countries (which makes sense). In some posts, I've literally had someone state that the saying was incorrect or didn't exist and another five people sharing it and stating how they use it all the time and thought it was hilarious!
The illustrator regularly receives suggestions to continue illustrating and translating more phrases. That way, the blog is updated frequently and gradually builds a record of typical images that are used and expanded in the speech of different regions throughout the country.
“Mas criollo que una arepa”. – More papal than the Pope. Did anybody happen not to know that?