[Lingtyp] Metaphorical subject-object order in proverbs with parallel sentences

JOO, Ian [Student] ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk
Fri Jun 18 04:08:23 UTC 2021

Dear all,

in Korean proverbs consisting of two parallel sentences, the metaphorical object precedes the metaphorical subject:

  *   호랑이는 죽어서 가죽을 남기고, 사람은 죽어서 이름을 남긴다. A tiger leaves its hide when it dies, and a person leaves their name when they die.
  *   열 길 물 속은 알아도 한 길 사람 속은 모른다. You can see through ten feet deep water, but you cannot see through a one foot deep heart.

In these proverbs, the metaphorical objects (tiger, water) precede the metaphorical subjects (person, heart).
I have been assuming that this is the “natural” way of making a parallel comparison, until I came across Mongolian proverbs today that have the opposite structure:

  *   Хүн ёс дагана, нохой яс дагана. A person follows traditions, and a dog follows bones.
  *   Уур биеийг зовоодог, уул морийг зовоодог. The anger torments the body, and the mountain torments the horse.

I assume here that the person and the body are being compared to the dog and the horse (and not the other way around).
Is this metaphorical subject - metaphorical object order common in proverbs of other languages as well?

From Hong Kong,


This message (including any attachments) contains confidential information intended for a specific individual and purpose. If you are not the intended recipient, you should delete this message and notify the sender and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (the University) immediately. Any disclosure, copying, or distribution of this message, or the taking of any action based on it, is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

The University specifically denies any responsibility for the accuracy or quality of information obtained through University E-mail Facilities. Any views and opinions expressed are only those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the University and the University accepts no liability whatsoever for any losses or damages incurred or caused to any party as a result of the use of such information.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20210618/b0778da0/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list