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Proverbs as the way expressing people's wisdom and spirit and literary works


A psychological method of analysis has been developed (Detje, 1996) and will be presented in order to show which psychological mechanisms the proverbs use to reach their goal of giving help (or advise) for human action regulation and human action organization. Some examples will be given to show which psychological insight there is inside the proverbs. Comer's theory of human action organization (e.g. Dorner, 1990, 1991) is used in this first analysis and compared with a lot of proverbs taken from Simrock, 1846. It can be shown that the proverbs have a much' differentiated "'knowledge" about human action organization and errors people make while planning and acting; even in complex and uncertain situations. Proverbs are "Guides to Right Behavior". This also means that a lot of psychologists' ideas of action organization are already included in "grandma's wisdom", although the proverbs use (of course) a quite different language.[15] Since psychologists have used proverbs mainly for testing and differentiating groups of

persons it will be very interesting to have an exchange between paremiologists and psychologists about the psychological significance of the wisdom in the proverbs.

Many people have loved proverbs for the wisdom embedded in them. Others have treasured proverbs for the vividness or earthiness of their imagery. But students of the subject are impressed by still another characteristic of the proverb: its verbal economy. Proverbs are rarely wordy. The usual proverb is spare and austere in expression, and some are marvels of compactness.

"Wisdom" and "shortness" doubtlessly belong to the popular notion of what makes up a proverb. Even when a scholar such as Mario Pei wrote a short piece on "Parallel Proverbs" (1964)[16] for the Saturday Review, he basically adhered to this general view of the proverb in his article dealing with national and international proverbs, their cynicism, philosophy and humor, their obvious misogyny and their contradictor) comments on life's experiences around the world: Proverbs are among the most ancient of human institutions. Criticism of life, in brief and pithy form, is characteristic of proverbs, while their popular philosophy is indeed, proverbial.

"Proverbs are the wisdom of peoples" goes an Italian saying. This is perhaps an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that much of a nation's folk-philosophy gets into proverbs, along with the spice of national customs and, above all, the peculiar flavor of the nation's language and phraseology... Proverbs are generalizations of human experience, condensations of oft-repeated occurrences of the trial-and-error variety. Above all, they are the fruit of observation and inductive reasoning, two of the great faculties of the human mind... A generalization... caught on, became popular, and was passed from mouth to mouth, from generation to generation.

Ultimately it became an integral part of the group's folklore, and was repeated whenever the situation it described recurred. Every proverb tells a story and teaches a lesson.

This lengthy discussion of the nature of the proverb by Pei reads almost as an attempt of summarizing the common understanding of proverbs. Many of the 55 definitions stated above are similar to Pei's points, and it is amazing to notice how congrous these definitions are to those defining attempts printed in magazines and newspapers. There certainly is much agreement in the non-scholarly world of what a proverb is even if scholars seem to be unable to agree on a reasonable definition at all.

A proverb is by definition a popular maxim. Proverbs are among the most ancient literary forms, and among the most universal. Enough if it [the proverb] holds its measure of truth. Proverbs are anonymous wisdom-literature of the common man in ages past.[17] Matti Kuusi once defined proverbs simply as "monumenta humana," and this is exactly what they are to the general population. Our survey of 55 non-academic definitions has shown that proverbs are thought to express human wisdom and basic truths in a short sentence. Popular articles in magazines and newspapers fend to share this view of the proverb. Altogether proverbs are still seen as useful generalizations about life, even if at times their value of appropriateness in certain situations might be questioned. We can poke fun at proverbs, we can ridicule them or we can parody them, but eventually we are all governed by their insights to some degree. Proverbs and their wisdom confront us' daily, and modern people seem to have a clear idea of what proverbs are, what they express and what they can do for us. Proverb scholars would do well to pay more attention to the present use of proverbs while obviously also continuing to tackle the frustrating question of whether a universal proverb definition can be found. But in their enduring search for such an erudite definition, they can take solace in the fact that the people using proverbs do know in their minds what makes a good proverb - an incommunicable quality tells them that a short and repeated statement of wisdom, truth and experience must be a proverb.

Comparing the three approaches discussed above (semantic, functional, and contextual) we have ample ground to conclude that have very much in common as the main criteria of phraseological units appear to be essentially the same, i.e. stability and idiomaticity or lack of motivation. It should be noted however that these criteria as elaborated in the three approaches are sufficient mainly to single out extreme cases: highly idiomatic non-variable and free (or variable) word-groups.

The main features of this new approach which is now more or less universally accepted by Soviet linguists are as follows:[18]

12. Phraseology is regarded as a self-contained branch of linguistics and not as a part of lexicology.

13. Phraseology deals with a phraseological subsystem of language and not with isolated phraseological units.

14. Phraseology is concerned with all types of set expressions.

15. Set expressions are divided into three classes: phraseological units (e.g. red tape, mare's nest, etc.), phraseomatic units (e.g. win a victory, launch a campaign, etc.) and borderline cases belonging to the mixed class. The main distinction between the first and the second classes is semantic: phraseological units have fully or partially transferred meanings while components of phraseomatic units are used in their literal meanings.

16. Phraseological and phraseomatic units are not regarded as word-equivalents but some of them are treated as word correlates.

17. Phraseological and phraseomatic units are set expressions and their phraseological stability distinguishes them from free phrases and compound words.

Phraseological and phraseomatic units are made up of words of different degree of wordness depending on the type of set expressions they are used in. (cf. e.g. small hours and red tape). Their structural separateness, an important factor of their stability, distinguishes them from compound words.



Date: 2015-05-23; view: 870; Нарушение авторских прав

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