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  1. 1. Derya Agis; Bread, Water, and Milk in Sephardic Proverbs and Idioms; November 2010 Page | 1 Bread, Water, and Milk in Sephardic Proverbs and Idioms Derya F. Agis Brandeis University (Visiting Scholar, Summer 2010) Middle East Technical University, Graduate Student e-mail: In this study, I intend to examine the use of the words of bread, water, and milk in different Judeo- Spanish proverbs and idioms from the perspective of the theory of cultural dimensions of Hofstede (1984, 2001, and 2004). According to this theory, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism / collectivism, masculinity / femininity, and long-term orientation / short-term orientation are the dimensions differentiating between different cultures. This study consists of the analyses of food names as metaphors and consequently diverse cultural elements indicated in the Judeo- Spanish proverbs and anecdotes belonging to different lands of the Ottoman Empire where Sephardim came after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Metaphorical uses of bread, water, and milk in relation with the classifications of Hofstede (1984, 2001, and 2004) will be analyzed. Introduction Literature Review Loukianenko-Wolfe (2008) worked on the rhetorical patterns in Russian and American business letters in accordance with the theory of cultural dimensions of Hofstede (1984). Regarding the dimension of power distance, Loukianenko-Wolfe (2008) found that the writers of American letters mention previous contact more than do the writers of Russian letters and the American writers always use letter- writing conventions, whereas the Russian writers change the font of the salutation (p. 96 - 97). Moreover, on uncertainty avoidance, she tells that more graphics are used to indicate the purpose in the American letters than those in the Russian ones, the only visible graphic feature is a product list of a company, and while the American letters include all the contact details, the Russian ones provide inadequate contact information (p. 98 - 100). Aim and Scope In this study, I wanted to discover the uses of the cultural dimensions of Hofstede (1984, 2001, and 2004) in the Judeo-Spanish proverbs and idioms. Data Nehama, Josep. 2003. Dictionnaire du Judéo- Espagnol. L’Asiathèque: Paris, France. POWER DISTANCE Agua (water): agua rosa (rose water): for weddings, or other celebrations; somebody was putting some rose water onto the guests’ hands. Power distance = between the guests and the event organizer (rose water = a symbolic liquid used in the Turkish culture) estar enriva de agua: to be on the shore of the water, not to be serious; a serious person does not dream, but acts; her / his actions lead to the faith of others in this person. estar ach por pan: to be hungry for bread; poverty; a hungry person needs others’ help UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE fazerse todo agua: everything became water totally; everything failed; projects = delusion estar entre dos aguas: to be between two waters; to be undecided tierra manan leche i miel: land giving milk and honey; abundant land; certainty of abundance; one can have faith in this type of field after observing it for some time
  2. 2. Derya Agis; Bread, Water, and Milk in Sephardic Proverbs and Idioms; November 2010 Page | 2 par este Pan de Dio: for this Bread of God; oath; certainty pan kon sal i pan kon savor: salty and tasty bread = bread with salt and with taste; a good occasion makes a bread tasty INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS COLLECTIVISM en talas aguas mos veamos = collective wish = le tus see ourselves in such [nice] waters El agua de mi vizina es melezina: my neighbor’s water is medicine/ cure; jealousy; Individualism = rivalry = El pan de la vezina es melezina: the neighbor’s bread is medicine / cure. Se fizo todo leche i miel: it became completely milk and honey; collectivism; they fought, but afterwards they bécame very good friends. pan i kezo i dos candelas: bread and cheese and two candles; collectivism, sharing one’s earnings with another lasdrar por el pan, ganar su pan a la sudor de su frente: to become tired for the bread, earning her / his bread with the sweat of her / his front; individual need for working MASCULINITY VERSUS FEMININITY bever/dar a bever las aguas de la sota: give to drink/to drink the water of an unfaithful woman: to suffer; a statement against women LONG-TERM ORIENTATION VERSUS SHORT-TERM ORIENTATION arrekozer/ akozer las aguas: to gather rain water; to collect / gather some money for the future = long-term orientation Aguas pasadas no mueven molino: Passed waters do not turn the mill; there is no need to think about the past; pain is short-term; one has to make plans for finding long- term happiness. A pan duro, diente acuto: to a hard bread, hard teeth; the necessity of long-term resistance against the obstacles for reaching the target No va komer mas pan: He will not be able to eat more bread; sadness; long-term sadness will appear, unless a solution to the problem is found. La mar esta leche: The sea is milk; calm water / short- term happy period Conclusion Having bread = power Milk = highly respected values Water = essence of living; time; short-term relationships In general, Sephardic culture is a collectivist one. References Hofstede, G.H. (1984). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations across Nations. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications. Hofstede, G. and Hofstede, G. J. (2004). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw- Hill U.S.A. Loukianenko-Wolfe, M. (2008). Different cultures – Different discourses?
  3. 3. Derya Agis; Bread, Water, and Milk in Sephardic Proverbs and Idioms; November 2010 Page | 3 Rhetorical patterns of business letters by English and Russian speakers. In U. Connor, E. Nagelhout and W. V. Rozycki (eds.). Contrastive Rhetoric: Reaching to Intercultural Rhetoric (pp. 87 – 121). Amsterdam and Philadephia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.