HomeQ&ATo elevate yourself

To elevate yourself


Yesterday I was having trouble translating the proverb:

No se siente en una canasta a elevarse;

In English it says - Dont lift yourself up by sitting on a basket.

Heidita left a comment that it doesn't work the way I put it and I must admit I did wonder about elevarse when I posted it :(

Would subirse work or could someone please help with a better suggestion - muchísimas gracias de antemano smile

(and while we're here lol, is that ok to say the above for 'thanx in advance'?

updated JUL 18, 2010
edited by Kiwi-Girl
posted by Kiwi-Girl
muchísimas (spelled incorrectly in Dictionary) sound it out...mu "chi " si mas: stress on chi - 0074b507, JUL 14, 2010
well I didn't check in the dictionary, that's just me being lazy, thanx for spotting it :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010
I should know better, voluntary dunce corner for me lol :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010

7 Answers


Yes, "gracias de antemano" is perfectly okay. smile

I would translate that proverb by saying "No se siente en una canasta para elevarse".

"Para" here is more or less "in order to" in English.

updated JUL 14, 2010
posted by MadderSky

María-Claire was kind enough to provide the source of her quote, which turns out to be a Cambodian proverb:

Wikiquote says:

* Literally: Do not sit on a basket to raise yourself; do not be

boisterous while carrying goods on your head; do not lie with your head covered waiting for good luck; do not rely upon the god of mercy, you must work hard.

* Meaning: In the first phrase, "sitting on a basket" is a metaphor

for boasting about oneself; the second phrase admonishes a person not to be boisterous while carrying goods because when you are boisterous you risk becoming unbalanced and tipping the basket on which your goods rest; the third and forth phrases are self-explanatory.

In my view, the cultural context is very important for this particular proverb to makes sense.

Let's assume that this is a fair sample of what Cambodian basketry is all about:

alt text

Then one can readily see that sitting on one of them to raise above the rest is probably not bound to work for a very long time.

I like baskets, and I have seen basketwork from many different cultures - so I know that if you use the right materials (rattan or bamboo, for example), you can make some very sturdy basket structures indeed! As a matter of fact, I understand that Cambodians make some basket boats that look pretty solid, seaworthy and durable!

But generally speaking, baskets are not expected to be as sturdy or long-lasting as structures made of solid wood, say, or metal, or concrete. So if we think along those lines, we could come to see the wisdom of a proverb that advises:

"No te sientes sobre un canasto para estar sobre los demás", which would be my answer to María's question.

Still, like many proverbs, I think you need to be immersed in the cultural surroundings in order for it to make immediate sense. I suspect that modern, urban Cambodians, might also be puzzled by this proverb if it has not been part of their family lore as they grew up!

updated JUL 18, 2010
posted by Gekkosan
Nice photo of Cambodian baskets, I like your analysis and the fact that you insist about knowing the culture surrounding is important. - Krama, JUL 18, 2010
Thank you, Krama. I'm happy that you could pitch in and further clarify this question for us! - Gekkosan, JUL 18, 2010
Like a terrier to a bone lol - bien hecho Gekkosan :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 18, 2010
Voting :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 18, 2010

OMG, When I saw Maria's post, I also think about our Cambodian proverb, but i didn't expect it was actually a Cambodian proverb, I thought might be a proverb similar to ours. Right, I'm Cambodian and this proverb is one the most popular proverbs in Cambodia, we use it in our everyday conversation, so every cambodian can understand what it means.

When we say you're sitting on a basket to raise yourself up, it means you're boasting about yourself. Many Cambodian like to be humble, so if someone say "I'm beautiful, i'm intelligent ..,etc" they might think you're sitting on a basket to raise yourself up.

If we look closely, we'll see that it's impossible to lift ourself up (without any helps) when we are sitting on a basket or anything else. we need someone or some machine like an elevator to lift ourself up, didn't we?. So sitting on a basket to raise yourself, is like you're trying to praise yourself which is not natural and believable. The praise should come from other people around you, not from yourself.

I think it's a good proverb and it really make sense. grin

updated JUL 18, 2010
posted by Krama
Fantastic! So glad to have a native who can clarify that for us! :-) :-) - Gekkosan, JUL 18, 2010
Awesome, thanx Krama :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 18, 2010

Welcome madder, :

No se siente en una canasta para elevarse"

This is correct, but makes no sense in Spanish.

I did not offer any alternative, marie, as this simply does not work in Spanish, not that I can think off. Call gekko to the thread...maybe he can think of something.

updated JUL 14, 2010
posted by 00494d19
ok will do, thanx :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010

As to context, Geko is correct. When I was in Thailand(neighbor to cambodia), it was considered bad manners to place yourself physically above another person. To do so was to assert superiority. On ocassion when it was unavoidable,one excused oneself.

In this proverb,would the verb "alzarse," have a more "proverbial," usage to it?

updated JUL 18, 2010
posted by 002262dd
You could use "alzarse", if you go by the interpretation that the basket is being used to lift yourself up, as an elevator of sorts. I used "estar" because I interpreted the basket being used as a pedestal or platform. - Gekkosan, JUL 18, 2010
Krama's interpretation lends weight to the "lift / elevar" version. - Gekkosan, JUL 18, 2010

I agree that the proverb does not translate gracefully into Spanish. My problem is that I'm not even sure I really get it in English. I could not find a reference in Google. I could assume that this refers to the idea of using a basket tied to a string to lift groceries and other stuff to apartments in buildings. Trying to use that method to lift yourself up may not be the best way to rise above the others - although technically I'm sure you can fashion a rudimentary elevator that way. Or it could mean that baskets do not generally make sturdy platforms to sit on....

I can think of a couple of different ways in which to translate the sentence, but for it to make sense I need to understand it.

updated JUL 18, 2010
posted by Gekkosan
Well i got from it that if you put yourself higher than others - but you've used a basket to do it - it's not going to turn out well. - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010
- a bit like pride comes before a fall? - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010
I mean...if gekko does not get it...we are soooo lost!!! jeje, he is the most profiicient speaker in both languages on this site:) - 00494d19, JUL 15, 2010
Wow! High praise indeed! ¡Gracias Heidita! Pues si, la verdad es que no entiendo qué tiene que ver la canasta con estar por encima de los demás. Sorry... - Gekkosan, JUL 15, 2010
Se ve que ya que la canasta con el peso, casi fijo que se rompe, con lo que acabas con el culo en es suelo...o sea, mejor elegir otro asiento para ponerte en un lugar mas elevado, pero no tengo ni idea de algo similar - 00494d19, JUL 18, 2010
Yo tampoco puede pensar en algo justamente equivalente, aunque si hay muchas citas sobre la humildad, como esta: "Sé humilde si quieres obtener la sabiduría. Sé más humilde aún cuando la hayas adquirido. Blavatsky" - Gekkosan, JUL 18, 2010

Thanx Madder smile here I was thinking it was the verb but of course I should use para, gracias smile

updated JUL 14, 2010
posted by Kiwi-Girl
Please unaccept the answer, this makes no sense - 00494d19, JUL 14, 2010
ok done, sorry I did check your profile Madder and it said fluent in Spanish so I thought you must know :) Let's see if we can get some other thoughts and maybe both learn lol. - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010
yes, I did too, marie, check ...but I dont know, makes no sense at all - 00494d19, JUL 14, 2010
We need to keep in mind that there are phrases, especially proverbs, that are very hard to translate, not literally, but the idea they want to express. My intent was to correct "a" for "para", in the original sentence, though. - MadderSky, JUL 14, 2010
Thanx Madder, I guess both in English and Spanish on this site we also try to spot phrases that make no sense when translated - correcting these when possible helps both our English and Spanish speakers :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 14, 2010
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