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This story is retold in the book The Hatseller and the Monkeys, by Baba Wague Diakite, who explains in an author's note that versions of this tale also exist in Egypt, Sudan, India, and England, and "the theme of a peddler having his wares ransacked by monkeys while taking a nap was a popular motif in European art during and after the Middle Ages. However, although this story certainly illustrates the concept of "monkey see, monkey do," neither the nor the version of actually contains the phrase.
But a version does, in a source that brings us Monkey See to China. An instruction book intended for Chinese learners of English, by Fong F. Sec and published in Shanghai inbegins the story this way:. Monkeys are great imitators, hence the saying, "Monkey see, monkey do. Even though this story is aimed at Chinese readers, there is no indication that this phrasing has anything to do with Chinese. Instead, it's presented, like all the other English in the book, as proper and cultured English.
The latest revisions to the Oxford English Dictionary have for their earliest attestation of monkey see, monkey dofrom November 24 in the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, modern digitized newspaper archives allow some slight antedating, with a surprise in store. The July 16, issue of the Saint Paul Globe has an advertisement for a shoe sale by a store called the Golden Rule. Of their imitators, they say:. There are one or two side-shows who, by a monkey-see-monkey-does method, do sometimes draw a little trade, but after you buy once you buy no more.
Monkey see, monkey does! A singular ending on one verb, not on the other. Another example from the Midwest comes a month earlier, in the June 11, issue of the Milwaukee Sentinel. It's another ad for a shoe sale, which states that the business's competitors.
Monkey seesmonkey does! Singular endings on both verbs. In the previous year, the December 22 issue of the same newspaper has yet another ad for a shoe sale, by the Alexander Boot and Shoe Company, which also uses the phrase Monkey sees, monkey does to disparage a competitor.
This is the earliest antedating I've found for the proverb involving monkeys seeing things and doing them, and it has the Standard English singular present-tense suffix on each verb. I take this as further evidence that the phrase did not originate in Chinese Pidgin English. I agree with you. You can tell much about a person or a culture by how they treat children, elders, animals, and anyone or anything that has no vote or voice or bank account.
I hope you are well! Naomi, thanks for sharing this wonderful tale. Thank you for the visit and for your thoughtful response, Jean. Trying to figure out how we can be like that monkey. Bernie Sanders is one of them. Is he the equivalent of the monkey teaching the rest of us? Will enough of us learn and teach others to free ourselves and make the monkey pot obsolete?
I pray every day that is so. Millions of people work every day, in one way or Monkey Do, for lasting change that heals humanity, heals the Earth, protects our habitat and all creatures. A wise woman I know says the good is rising at last, that the evil cannot hold sway any longer.
I hope to be one of those imaginal cells in the human transformation. Will this butterfly make it? Dear Kathryn Grace, What a thoughtful and eloquent reply—thank you so much for joining in the conversation. We are definitely on the same page. I had never heard of Imaginal cells, but love the sound of it. Fingers crossed for Bernie Sanders, and a more kind and compassionate world for every little monkey.
Dear Sylvia, Thank you so much for stopping by. What a wonderful story. I hope I can use it one day in one of my classes at school. The politics in your country are on the minds of people all over the world. Here in Canada, the rise of Donald Trump is making many of us nervous and the possibility of him becoming president is a constant topic of discussion in the work place, in homes, in bars and in the media.
Believe me, there are Americans who are baffled and terrified about the rise of Trump. Monkey Do first I was dismissive—who could possibly take such an ignorant narcissistic blabbermouth bully seriously?
Now I understand that he is giving voice to a certain sector of our society—giving them permission to reveal and act out their basest, most selfish, violent, and racist impulses. I am still hopeful that while their obnoxious voices might be the loudest, there are enough intelligent and compassionate Americans who will quietly go to the polls and put Bernie Sanders into the White House.
A powerful lesson, here, Naomi, one we all can learn from. I love this story, Naomi. Clever monkeys. I will be reviewing it Monkey See my blog in the next week or so. Thank you, Sarah! I will go and read that review.
I bought a copy of your novel and look forward to reading it. Reblogged this on Writing Between the Lines. Great post, Naomi. Monkey Do work hard to believe that good will win and I truly believe that but people do get hurt in times like this. I just wish all the hate filled people would go back under their rocks! Go figure. I think I understand how you are feeling. It is bewildering and heartbreaking. I find my sorrow for the downturn the world has taken is close to the surface.
We need more heroes like Pete to speak out for those whose voices are not heard or are shouted down. Yes, Naomi, yes. I hope all of us who are speaking and singing of peace and justice and respect can hang on and resist the current madness. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.
Skip to content Do you know what this is? But the antique dealer who sold me my monkey trap told me the rest of the story… In the late s, a monkey was caught in a clay monkey trap, like so many before it.
Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Published by Naomi Baltuck. Previous Post Previous post: Magnum Opus. I love your story! Might you be marching for Bernie tomorrow? Thanks for stopping by. Thank you for the visit, and for taking the time to share your response.
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