Arab & the camel [was Re: Chomsky, Labov, Cassidy, Lakhoff, Dilliard, McDavid,Nixon in 1974.]

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Jan 12 15:14:08 UTC 2001

If you don't mind a bit of indecent exposure to another non Indo
European language, there is a proverb that sounds somewhat like this:
"Ottakaththinu [to the camel] sthalam [room] koduththathupohlay [like
having given]." Of course any linguist can identify the language or at
least the language group from the proverb's structure.

No doubt ... but some of us blue-collar types may be a little weak in
Dravidian proverb morphology, and some of us have limited acquaintance with
the Coromandel Coast area. Are there a lot of camels over there? (^_^)

My question: Recently I said, "You know the story (I mean fable,
Aesop's, if I remember right) of the Arab and the camel." It drew a
blank from a Missourian spiritual director at a Jesuit retreat house (he
is an MSW besides professional qualifications) and a few days later the
same blank from a Chicagoan Carmelite prior. Of course something was
bothering me.

The question (anthropologists, folklorists, please help) is about the

The blank I think is self-explanatory. (^_^)

Is this the one like "Don't let the camel stick his nose into the tent"?
Good advice for Arabs and non-Arabs alike, I suppose. Give a camel a rupee,
and he'll take a crore!

-- Doug Wilson

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