**DAVID CRAM**

**A NOTE ON THE LOGIC OF PROVERBS**

Cha bhreunaichear an seanfhacal

"There’s no belying a proverb"

(Scottish Gaelic proverb)

1. __The pragmatics of proverbial usage.__

If you agree with me that "Absence makes the heart grow
fonder"

Then "Out of sight, out of mind" should also make you
ponder.

And if you claim "Too many cooks will spoil the broth"

Then "Many hands..." should stop you skiving off.

2. __The Law of Proverbial Non-Contradiction__

Consider: "You can’t tell a book by its cover."

Now given a proverb there must be another

Of equal and opposite meaning. ^{1} The truth

Of: "The apparel bespeaks the man" is proof.

3. __An axiomatised proverbial logic__

The full text of this
article is published in De
Proverbio - Issue 9:1999 & Issue
10:1999, an
electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

And being reflexively both wrong and right ^{7}

Its logical bark is no worse than its bite.

**NOTES**
Permission to publish this article
granted by *Proverbium* (Editor: Prof. Wolfgang Mieder,
University of Vermont, USA).

Previously published in *Proverbium* 2 (1985), pp.
271-272.

^{1 }Cf. the perceptive remark attributed to Niels Bohr:
"The opposite of a trivial truth is a falsehood. The
opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound
truth" (Globus, G. G. Maxwell, G. & Savodnick, I. (1976) __Consciousness and the Brain,__ New York & London,
Plenum Press, p. 271).

^{2 }Including this one of course.

^{3 }The First Axiom of Proverbial Logic: A proverb is
either true or very ture.

^{4 }The Second Axiom of Proverbial Logic: For every
proverb there is an equal and opposite proverb.

^{5 }Including this one of course.

^{6 }The Third Axiom of Proverbial Logic: All proverbs are
not true (whichever way you look at it).

^{7 }The Third Axiom (which is self-contradictory)
contradicts the First Axiom (which is self-supporting), from
which it can be logically derived by the Second
Axiom.

David Cram

Department of Lingustics

University of Aberdeen

Aberdeen AB9 2UB

Scotland