INTERNATIONAL PROVERB SCHOLARSHIP: AN
UPDATED BIBLIOGRAPHY, 1996
The past year has yielded the
impressive number of 290 paremiological publications
throughout the world. This rich harvest must be understood
as a clear sign that paremiologists, linguists,
anthropologists, folklorists, cultural historians, and
scholars from a multitude of other disciplines consider
proverbs to be worthy of their serious attention. This
annual bibliography contains numerous book-length
monographs, quite a few dissertations, and many articles
dealing with a wide range of fascinating topics. There is no
doubt that paremiology is very much alive today, both on the
regional/national and on the comparative/international
It is not easy to keep pace with all
of these important publications. However, with the help of
several good colleagues and friends the present bibliography
gives as complete a picture as possible of international
proverb scholarship. I would like to thank in particular
Dmitrij Dobrovol'skij (Moscow), Rainer Eckert (Berlin),
Peter Grzybek (Graz), Jarmo Korhonen (Helsinki), Valerii M.
Mokienko (St. Petersburg), Gyula Paczolay (Veszprém),
Elisabeth Piirainen (Münster), and Helmut Walther
(Wiesbaden) for their invaluable help in providing me with
bibliographical references and, whenever possible, also with
the actual publications.
Let me ask all of you to send me your
and your colleagues' new publications so that I can include
them in these annual bibliographies. It is, of course, my
wish to be as complete as possible with these yearly lists.
I am more than willing to purchase new books, but please
also help me in obtaining unpublished dissertations and the
many articles that appear in a constant flow. This type of
help will make my bibliographies more inclusive, and I will
also be able to continue to build my international proverb
scholarship archive that is meant to serve scholars
Warning: Division by zero in /home/world68/public_html/DPjournal/DP,2,1,96/bibs96.html on line 156 Proverbs, Sayings and Popular Wisdom - Audio Proverbs in English and Romance Languages, Proverb Studies, Proverb Collections, International Proverb Bibliographies
De Proverbio – Latin for ‘About the Proverb’ – is a website devoted to proverbs in several languages. It was founded in January 1995 at the University of Tasmania, Australia. De Proverbio was the world’s first refereed electronic journal of international proverb studies. It’s inspiration was Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship edited by Prof. Wolfgang Mieder at the University of Vermont. The Yearbook continued the tradition of Proverbium: Bulletin d’Information sur les Recherches Parémiologiques, published occasionally from 1965 to 1975 by the Society for Finnish Literature, Helsinki.
Recently, the website has added audio proverbs in six languages, read by native speakers. Also available for the lovers of languages and their proverbial richess is a page of multilingual proverb crosswords.
Proverbs and Their Definition
From time immemorial proverbs have fascinated people of all ages and from all walks of life. As it happened throughout centuries, common people today still avail themselves of the proverb’s rich oral tradition to convey their culture and values, while scholars collect and study them from a wide range of angles: linguistic, social, psychological, political, historical and so on.
The problem of proverb definition is still open. However, it is broadly accepted that proverbs were born from man’s experience. And that they generally express, in a very succinct way, common-sense truths. They give sound advice and reflect the human condition. But, as we know, human nature is both good and bad and the latter is often mirrored by discriminatory proverbs, be they against women, different nationalities or particular social groups. For a thorough discussion of proverb definition, see Popular Views of the Proverb by Prof. Wolfgang Mieder. Another article which sheds some light on the proverb definition is The Wisdom of Many and the Wit of One by Archer Taylor.
Proverbs and Their Origin
As to the origin of proverbs we tend to assume that they were born in times when human society began to self-impose rules and embrace principles necessary for communal living. Research can trace them back only to the time when language was recorded by means of some type of writing. The Sumerian civilisation of more than five thousand years ago is the oldest known civilisation to have made use of proverbs, some of which have been passed on through its cuneiform inscriptions.
One such proverb, in its Latin version, is Canis festinans caecos parit catulos. It spread to other languages. The English translation is The hasty bitch brings forth blind whelps. In French, it became La chienne dans sa hâte a mis bas des chiots aveugles. In the Italian La gatta frettolosa fece i gattini ciechi, the bitch has been replaced by the cat. The Portuguese version is Cadelas apressadas parem cães tortos, and the Romanian, Căţeaua de pripă îşi naşte căţeii fără ochi.
Proverbs and Their Use
Apart from use on a wide scale in day-to-day speech, there is ample evidence that proverbs were essential tools in teaching and learning. The pedagogical use of proverbs was encountered first in Sumerian society and subsequently this use became widespread throughout Medieval Europe.
Proverbs and proverbial expressions are found in religious manuscripts of the first half of the eighth century. The aim of introducing proverbs into religious texts was to help novices to learn Latin, and this practice became widespread by the tenth century.
The use of proverbs in teaching and learning was not circumscribed to England. Relatively new research attests to the use of proverbs in teaching in the eleventh century in Liège, France. In Italy the famous medical School of Salerno of the eleventh century formulated medical precepts which later became proverbs adopted by different cultures. Post prandium stabis, post coenam ambulabis was translated After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile in English. In French became Après dîner repose un peu, après souper promène une mille, while in Italian Dopo pranzo riposar un poco, dopo cena passeggiar un miglio. The Spanish version is Después de yantar reposad un poco, después de cenar pasead una milla and the Portuguese Depois de jantar, dormir; depois de cear, passos mil.
Proverbs and Their Abuse
But from use comes abuse, as a Spanish proverb says. There is no doubt that the capacity of the proverb to convey universal truths concisely led to their abuse and manipulation.
Hitler and his Nazi regime employed proverbs as emotional slogans for propaganda purposes and encouraged the publication of anti-semitic proverb collections. For a thorough analysis of this phenomenon, please read the fascinating article “ … as if I were the master of situation.” Proverbial Manipulation in Adolf Hitler by Prof. Wolfgang Mieder.
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, communist regimes of the past have not only manipulated proverbs, but also purged popular collections of features which did not reflect their political ends. The former Soviet regime is at the forefront of such actions. One type of manipulation described by Jean Breuillard in Proverbes et pouvoir politique: Le cas de l’U.R.S.S. (published in “Richesse du proverbe”, Eds. François Suard and Claude Buridant. Lille: Université de Lille, 1984. II, 155-166). It consisted in modifying ancient proverbs like La vérité parcourt le monde (Truth spreads all over the world) into La vérité de Lénine parcourt le monde (Lenin’s truth spreads all over the world). As a result the new creation is unequivocably charged with a specific ideological message.
Manipulation did not stop at individual proverbs, it extended to entire collections. Vladimir Dal’s mid-nineteen century collection of Russian proverbs is such an example. Its first Soviet edition (1957) reduces the proverbs containing the word God from 283 to 7 only. Instead, those which express compassion for human weaknesses, such as alcoholism, disappear altogether. In more recent years, in Ceauşescu’s Romania, Proverbele românilor (published in 1877 by I. C. Hinţescu) suffered the same treatment. More than 150 proverbs were eliminated or changed in order to respond rigidly to the communist ideology.
Proverbs Across Time and Space
The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs states that foreign proverbs’ contribution to the English proverbial stock has enriched our language. Many proverbs of foreign origin were quickly absorbed into English life and have a rightful place in an English dictionary. Indeed, a close scrutiny of that dictionary reveals that more than two hundred and fifty proverbs are listed as first existing in Italian.
This is also true for other modern languages, particularly French and Spanish. The translation is not always literal. At times it is adapted to the new language and the resulting proverb is often enriched in its expression. For instance the Latin Homo sine pecunia est imago mortis (A man without money is the image of death) is rather closely translated in Italian as Uomo senza quattrini è un morto che cammina (A man without money is a dead man walking).
However, in other languages the metaphor changes, but not the meaning. In English the proverb becomes A man without money is a bow without an arrow, while in French Un homme sans argent / Est un loup sans dents (A man without money is a wolf without teeth) and an element of rhyme is introduced. The Romanian adaptation is a real poetic gem Omul fără bani e ca pasărea fără aripi; Când dă să zboare / Cade jos şi moare (A man without money is like a bird without wings; When he tries to fly / He falls down and dies). The concept is essentially the same: the man without money lacks something important…
While proverbs are still used today in a traditional way, that is in speech, literature and teaching, they have found a new ever expanding use in the advertising industry and in the mass media. One example is Here today, gone tomorrow, which became Hair today, gone tomorrow in the hair-removal industry. In the mass media it has a variety of paraphrases such as Hear today, gone tomorrow or Heir today, gone tomorrow. Before the Barcelona Olympic Games the old proverb All roads lead to Rome became All roads lead to… Barcelona in many English language newspapers and magazines. A new phenomenon encountered in many languages nowadays and is undoubtedly a sign of the proverb’s resilience and vitality.
Important writers of the past, among them Goethe and Voltaire, have questioned the traditional wisdom of proverbs. That led to some proverb transformations. Prof. Wolfgang Mieder coined the term anti-proverb for all forms of creative proverb changes. They can be deliberate innovations, alterations, variations, parodies. Anti-proverbs are widely spread today, some living a short time, some even making their way into recent proverb collections. A new broom sweeps clean, but the old one knows the corners and Absence makes the heart grow fonder – for somebody else are considered anti-proverbs.
Proverbs and Their Collection
Apart from studies on individual and multilingual proverbs and proverbial expressions, you will find a few e-books on our website. I will mention a Brazilian collection and a dictionary of equivalent English and Romanian proverbs. Prof. Wolfgang Mieder’s yearly bibliographies are an invaluable tool for students and researchers. Given their widespread use over the millennia, it is no wonder that scholars of the past started assembling proverbs in collections. Aristotle is believed to be among the first paremiographers (collectors of proverbs), but, unfortunately, his collection was lost. In more recent times a great impetus to the collection of proverbs was given by Erasmus. His fame spread from Venice throughout Europe after the publication in 1508 of his Adagiorum Chiliades. This collection contained 3,260 proverbs drawn from classical authors.
The success of the book led to several augmented editions culminating with that of 1536, which contains 4,151 proverbs. Erasmus’ work was translated into several European languages. While it became the model for future proverb collections in those languages, they were widely copied and translated.
One good example of such a practice is the 1591 Italian collection Giardino di Ricreatione, nel quale crescono fronde, fiori e frutti, vaghe, leggiadri e soavi, sotto nome di sei miglia proverbii, e piacevoli riboboli Italiani, colti e scelti da Giovanni Florio. And two decades later appeared in French as Le Jardin de Récréation, au quel croissent rameaux, fleurs et fruits très-beaux, gentils et souefs, soubz le nom de Six mille proverbes et plaisantes rencontres françoises, recueillis et triéez par GOMÈS DE TRIER, non seulement utiles mais délectables pour tous espritz désireux de la très-noble et copieuse langue françoise, nouvellement mis en lumière, à Amsterdam, par PAUL DE RAVESTEYN.
Proverbs and Fun
On the less academic side, you can test your knowledge of languages by solving our bilingual or multilingual crosswords. Or, you can listen to our featured proverbs in 6 languages – English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish. Also, enjoy sharing them with your friends. Some were posted on Twitter as comments to political events of the day.
Painters in Renaissance time, from Hieronymus Bosch to Pieter Bruegel, with his famous Netherlandish Proverbs, were attracted by the subject.
Modern artists like James Chapman illustrated recently proverbs from other world languages with hilarious cartoons. See some of his images on this page.
Barrado Belmar, Mari Carmen.
"Tavola, cibi, vini. Traducción o
adaptación sociocultural de estructuras
paremiológicas italianas y españolas." Paremia, no. 3 (1994), 83-88.
Bauer, Barbara. "Die Philosophie
des Sprichworts bei Sebastian Franck." Sebastian
Franck (1499-1542). Ed. Jan-Dirk Müller.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1993. 181-221.
Baur, Rupprecht S., and Christoph
Chlosta. "Kennen Kinder heute noch Sprichwörter?
Überlegungen zur Altersgrenze in Arbeiten zur
empirischen Parömiologie." Sprachbilder zwischen
Theorie und Praxis. Eds. Christoph Chlosta, Peter
Grzybek, and Elisabeth Piirainen. Bochum: Norbert
Brockmeyer, 1994. 1-30.
Baur, Rupprecht S., Christoph
Chlosta, and Peter Grzybek. "Verbale und nonverbale
Phraseologie." Niederdeutsches Wort, 35 (1995),
Beißner, Kirsten. Gebrauch und Funktion sprichwörtlicher Rede in
englischer Konversation: Eine empirische Untersuchung des
Lund-Corpus. M.A. Thesis University of Kassel, 1995.
Beken, Alain van der. Les
proverbes Yaka [Kasongo-Luunda] au service de
l'annonce de l'évangile. St. Augustin:
Steyler, 1982. 316 pp.
Ben-Amos, Dan. "Meditation on a
Russian Proverb in Israel." Proverbium, 12 (1995),
Besa Camprubi, Carles.
"Máxima y relato: conjunciones y desacuerdos." Paremia, no. 3 (1994), 45-51.
Birikh, Alexandr, Valerii
Mokienko, and Liudmila Stepanova. Istorii i
etimologiia russkikh frazeologizmov. Bibliograficheskii
ukazatel' (1825-1994). München: Otto Sagner,
1994. 273 pp.
Bizzarri, Hugo Oscar. "Oralidad y
escritura en el refranero medieval." Proverbium,
12 (1995), 27-66.
Bland, Dave Lawrence. A
Rhetorical Perspective on the Sentence Sayings of the
Book of Proverbs. Diss. University of Washington,
1994. 273 pp.
Boguslawski, Andrzej. "Zum Problem
der Phraseologie in zweisprachigen
Neofilologiczny, 26, no. 1 (1979), 29-36.
Boquera Matarredona, María.
"La traducción al español de paremias en The Pickwick Papers: refranes y proverbios." Paremia, no. 3 (1994), 89-96.
Bozarth, George S. "Johannes
Brahms's Collection of Deutsche Sprichworte (German Proverbs)." Brahms Studies. Ed. David
Brodbeck. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska
Press, 1994. I, 1-29.
Brands, Hartmut. "Cogito ergo
sum". Interpretationen von Kant bis Nietzsche.
München: Karl Alber, 1982. 318 pp.
Brundage, Shelley Brown. Comparison of Proverb Interpretations Provided by
Non-Brain-Damaged Adults, Aphasic Adults,
Right-Hemisphere-Damaged Adults, and Adults with Probable
Dementia. Diss. University of Minnesota, 1993. 121
Bryan, George B., and Wolfgang
Mieder. The Proverbial Eugene O'Neill: An Index to
Proverbs in the Works of Eugene Gladstone O'Neill.
Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1995. 365
Burne, Charlotte Sophia. "Proverbs
and Riddles; Proverbial Rhymes and Local Sayings ." In
Ch.S. Burne, The Handbook of Folklore: Traditional
Beliefs, Practices, Customs, Stories and Sayings.
London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1913; rpt. London:
Senate, 1995. 280-291.
Ingrid, and Rafael Martín-Gaitero. "Los
refranes flamencos de Pieter Bruegel." Paremia, no. 3 (1994), 97-106.
Campbell, Theophine Maria. African and Afro-American Proverb Parallels. M.A.
University of California at Berkeley, 1975. 92
Cantera Ortiz de Urbina,
Jesús. "Filosofía sobre el amor en el
refranero español." Paremia, no. 3 (1994),
Chlosta, Christoph, Peter Grzybek,
and Elisabeth Piirainen (eds.). Sprachbilder zwischen
Theorie und Praxis. Akten des Westfälischen
(1991/1992). Bochum: Norbert Brockmeyer, 1994. 305
Chlosta, Christoph, Peter Grzybek,
and Undine Roos. "Wer kennt denn heute noch den Simrock?
Ergebnisse einer empirischen Untersuchung zur Bekanntheit
deutscher Sprichwörter in traditionellen
Sammlungen." Sprachbilder zwischen Theorie und
Praxis. Eds. Christoph Chlosta, Peter Grzybek, and
Elisabeth Piirainen. Bochum: Norbert Brockmeyer, 1994.
Chlosta, Christoph, and Peter
Grzybek. "Empirical and Folkloristic Paremiology: Two to
Quarrel or to Tango?" Proverbium, 12 (1995),
Colombi, María Cecilia.
"Clichés en el discurso de Perón." Proverbium 12 (1995), 87-96.
Cox, H.L. "Enkele aspecten van het
spreekwoord: vorm, inhoud, contextuele betekenis, functie
en associaties in het huidig taalgebruik." Neerlandica
Wratislaviensia, 7 (1994), 195-209. Also in Polish
translation as "Niektore aspekty przyslowia: Forma,
tresc, znaczenie kontekstualne funkcja i skojarzenia we
wispolczesnym uzyciu." Literatura ludova, 29, no.
1 (1995), 29-41.
Cronk, Brian C., Susan D. Lima,
and Wendy A. Schweigert. "Idioms in Sentences: Effects of
Frequency, Literalness, and Familiarity." Journal of
Psycholinguistic Research, 22, no. 1 (1993),
Földes, Csaba, and Andrea
Hécz. Deutsche Rundfunksprache in
mehrsprachiger Umwelt: Am Beispiel der Verwendung von
Phraseologismen. Wien: Edition Praesens, 1995. 168
Folly, Dennis (Sw. Anand Prahlad).
"'No Guts, No Glory': Proverbs, Values and Image among
Anglo-American University Students." Southern
Folklore, 51, no. 3 (1994), 285-298.
Franceschi, Temistocle. "Il
proverbio e la Scuola Geoparemiologica Italiana." Paremia, no. 3 (1994), 27-36.
Frank, Leonard Roy. Influencing
Minds: A Reader in Quotations. Portland, Oregon:
Feral House, 1995. 245 pp.
Friedemann, Golka W. The
Leopard's Spots: Biblical and African Wisdom in
Proverbs. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1993. 160
Fuchs, Sonja. Die haitischen
Tiersprichwörter und ihre Herkunft: Kulturelles Erbe
afrikanischer Sklaven und europäischer Siedler in
einer ehemaligen französischen Kolonie. Diss.
University of Bamberg, 1994. 549 pp.
Mieder, Wolfgang. "Proverbial
Manipulation in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf." International Folklore Review, 10 (1995),
Mieder, Wolfgang. "Shirley L.
Arora: Hispanic Paremiologist Par Excellence." Proverbium, 12 (1995), 1-12.
Mieder, Wolfgang. Sprichwörtliches und Geflügeltes:
Sprachstudien von Martin Luther bis Karl Marx.
Bochum: Norbert Brockmeyer, 1995. 197 pp.
Mieder, Wolfgang. "Stewart A.
Kingsbury (1923-1994)." Proverbium, 12 (1995),
Mieder, Wolfgang. "'Wo neue
Kräfte sinnvoll walten?' Zur Umformung Schillerscher
Zitate zu Aphorismen und Graffiti." Ethik und
Ästhetik. Werke und Werte in der Literatur vom 18.
bis zum 20. Jahrhundert. Festschrift für Wolfgang
Wittkowski. Ed. Richard Fisher. Frankfurt am Main:
Peter Lang, 1995. 293-311.
Mieder, Wolfgang, and George B.
Bryan. The Proverbial Winston S. Churchill: An Index
to Proverbs in the Works of Sir Winston Churchill.
Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1995. 448
Zhang, Hong. "'Spare Women a
Beating for Three Days, They Will Stand on the Roof and
Tear the House Apart': Images of Women in Chinese
Proverbs." Locating Power: Proceedings of the Second
Berkeley Women and Language Conference, April 4 and 5,
1992. Eds. Kira Hall, Mary Bucholtz, and Birch
Moonwomon. Berkeley, California: Berkeley Women and
Language Group, University of California, 1992. II,
Zuraev, E.Ch., Karambali Nazarov,
Sachro Sakirova, and M.I. Umarchodzaev. "Zu
interlingualen Äquivalenzbeziehungen bei
deonymischen Phraseologismen (am Beispiel des Deutschen,
Englischen und Russischen)." Das Wort: Germanistisches
Jahrbuch, no volume given (1991), 90-99.
Department of German and Russian
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont 05405