Proverb  

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A rolling stone gathers no moss --Sententiae by Publilius Syrus
This page Proverb is part of the linguistics series. Illustration: a close-up of a mouth in the film The Big Swallow (1901)
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This page Proverb is part of the linguistics series.
Illustration: a close-up of a mouth in the film The Big Swallow (1901)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A proverb (from the Latin proverbium) is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good phrasing, it may be known as an aphorism.

Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe, although almost every culture has examples of its own.

Contents

Depicting proverbs

Probably the most famous examples of depicting proverbs are the different versions of the paintings Netherlandish Proverbs by the father and son Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger, the proverbial meanings of these paintings being the subject of a 2004 conference, which led to a published volume of studies (Mieder 2004a).

Sources of proverbs

Proverbs come from a variety of sources. Some are, indeed, the result of people pondering and crafting language, such as some by Confucius, Plato, Baltasar Gracián, etc. Others are taken from such diverse sources as poetry, songs, commercials, advertisements, movies, literature, etc. A number of the well known sayings of Jesus, Shakespeare, and others have become proverbs, though they were original at the time of their creation, and many of these sayings were not seen as proverbs when they were first coined. Many proverbs are also based on stories, often the end of a story. For example, the proverb "Who will bell the cat?" is from the end of a story about the mice planning how to be safe from the cat.

Though many proverbs are ancient, they were all created by somebody. Sometimes it is easy to detect that a proverb is newly coined by a reference to something recent, such as the Haitian proverb "The fish that is being microwaved doesn't fear the lightning". Also, there is a proverb in the Kafa language of Ethiopia that refers to the forced military conscription of the 1980s, "...the one who hid himself lived to have children." Over 1,400 new English proverbs are said to have been coined in the 20th century. This process of creating proverbs is always ongoing, so that possible new proverbs are being created constantly. Those sayings that are adopted and used by an adequate number of people become proverbs in that society.

Paremiology

The study of proverbs is called paremiology which has a variety of uses in the study of such topics as philosophy, linguistics, and folklore. There are several types and styles of proverbs which are analyzed within Paremiology as is the use and misuse of familiar expressions which are not strictly 'proverbial' in the dictionary definition of being fixed sentences.

Examples

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Proverb" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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