Tatiana Yevich

English 101

Research Paper


Rick Pederson

The Proverbs Are Children Of

It would appear that nothing could be easier than writing down the
definition of a proverb. Where did a proverb come from? Where can it be
used? Proverbs are widely used in the society on the regular basis. Some
scholars and popular writers have claimed repeatedly that proverbial
language has passed from usage; however it remains an easily proven fact
that proverbs are not “passe?” and definitely not dead. This form of
language helps to express our thoughts more exactly and vividly.
Proverbs contain wisdom, humor, and usually fit many purports.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs defines a proverb as a
sentence that has been developed orally and is still used by the people
of a region. It has usually come about from experience, and it is a
statement that teaches learning within an experience. The World Book
Encyclopedia gives a different explanation of the word: Proverb is a
brief saying that presents a truth of some bit of useful wisdom. It is
usually based on common sense or practical experience. The effect of a
proverb is to make the wisdom it tells seem to be self-evident. The same
proverb often occurs among several different peoples, True proverbs are
sayings that have been passed from generation to generation, primarily
by word of mouth. They may also have been put into written form. The
Book of Proverbs In the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, is the most
notable collection of such sayings. They include:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.

A soft answer turneth away wrath.

Pride goeth before destriction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

In ancient Israel, children were educated primarily at home,
and proverbs were used to teach them to become successful and
responsible adults. Proverbs have not lost their well-established
popularity, and they continue to be ever present, even in a modern
technological society like that of the United States of America. This
has recently been made abundantly clear by the thousands of proverbs
registered in A Dictionary of American Proverbs ( New York: Oxford
University Press, 1992) edited by S.A. Kingsbury, K.B. Harder.

Early to bed, and early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

This is an old proverb well known in many countries that has not passed
from its usage. Proverbs both old and new, continue to serve us well as
concise statements of apparent truths. In everyday life proverbs name
social situations, that is, they are used to communicate our general
human concerns in traditional language. By employing proverbs in our
speech we wish to strengthen argument, express certain generalizations,
influence or manipulate other people, rationalize our own shortcomings,
question certain behavior patterns, satirize social ills, and poke fun
at ridiculous situations.

Saying without thinking is shooting without aiming.

There are no limits to the use of proverbs, and each
individual proverb may be used in many ways depending on its context.
There are hundreds of proverbs dealing with the body, work, love,
friendship, death, weather and more. For example:

Kiss and be friends.

Two heads are better than one.

Love is blind.

One hand washes other.

A good beginning makes a good ending.

It is better to do well then to say well.

These are the examples of proverbs that are based on friendship and
love. Some folklorists are now arguing that most weather proverbs are
not proverbs at all but rather superstitions couched in proverbial
language (Mieder, Wolfgagng 12). Nevertheless, we would still argue that
such texts as:

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

Make hay while the sun shines.

These are proverbs, especially since they are usually used in a
figurative and not in a literal sense. Medical proverbs are also widely
used by people all over the world. Here are some proverbs that are very

An apple a day keeps a doctor away.

A disease known is half cured.

The doctor is often more to be feared than the disease.

Health is not valued till sickness comes.

Bitter pills may have blessed effects.

Proverbs provide humor in a sarcastic way. Depending on the
specific proverb a person can identify an action and its consequence.
For example:

Do not do all you can; spend not all you have; believe not all you hear;
tell not all you know.

This proverb explains that one should use common sense as well as sensor
ones speech in relationship to other people. Another example of
sarcastic proverbs can be proverb:

A man can work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.

Proverbs and their value systems give us some basic structure, and if
their worldview does not fit a particular situation, they can be quickly
changed into revealing and liberating anti-proverbs. Proverbs are also
used as idioms; every language has its own. An idiom usually consists of
a group of words, which is either meaningless or absurd if the words are
understood to mean what they usually do.

Mostly short proverbs can be used as idioms. For example:

Die with one’s boots on.

This proverb (idiom) means expire while working, keep working to the
end. I some languages proverbs may occur as cliches or old proverbs.
Cliches are trite, worn out expressions. While they are acceptable in
conversation, they should be avoided in writing. Here are some examples
of such event:

Off the wall. Means to be not well reasoned.

Sound as a dollar. Means sensible.

A small sentence as proverb also contains grammar rules and tones of
vocabulary that is why I would claim that proverbs could help a great
deal to learn a foreign language like English and make the process of
learning more interesting. Proverbs contain such grammar rules as:
degrees of comparison of adjectives, gerund construction, construction
“there is”, “there are”, formation of noun plurals, formation of
present, past and future tenses, antonyms and synonyms, and most of
irregular verbs.

Proverbs help to remember gerund construction, which does not occur in
any other language but English.

Saying without thinking is shooting without aiming.

Seeing is believing.

Constructions “there is”, “there are” are also do not exist in most of
the languages they are not very hard to remember but it is more
interesting to learn it with the help of the proverbs. For example:

There is no place like home.

There are more ways to the woods then one.

There is no rose without a thorn.

There is no fool like an old fool.

Although many proverbs have been forgotten there still some
that will forever be used. With a new generation, new technology and
new lingo there will be more proverbs to come and more to be forgotten.
People will continue to use old and new proverbs, therefore they will
never die. They are an important part of learning and life in general.

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