The Proverbs Are Children Of Experience.
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 “passeґ” 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.
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 clichйs or old proverbs. Clichйs 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.
17 April 2001
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 passeґ and definitely not dead.
Definition of a proverb
Who uses proverbs
Why are proverbs still popular
Provides wisdom in short form
Saying without thinking, shooting without aiming
It is a hard thing to have a great estate, and not fall in love with it
Provides humor through words
Wise men make proverbs and fools repeat them
Not worth a fly
There’s no fool like an old fool
Helps one learn the language
Construction “there is”, “there are”
Degrees of comparison of adjectives
The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs. Oxford University Press, Ely House,
The World Book Encyclopedia. New York 1999.
A Dictionary of American Proverbs, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Mieder, Wolfgang. Proverbs are never out of season. New York: Oxford, 1993.
Search results for creative Proverbs. Copyright 2000 by Franklin C. Bayer