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

LIU Danqing liudanq at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 19 02:06:28 UTC 2021

 In Chinese, we have both orders. The following proverbs and classic quotations are all of birds as metaphorical objects:
    (1) Niao3 zhi1 jiang1 si3,  qi2     ming2   ye3  shan4
        bird 's    will  die  his/its calling  TOP  grievous
        Ren2 zhi1 jiang1 si3, qi2    yan2   ye3 shan4; 
      person 's   will  die  his/its speech TOP kind   (Confucius' Lunyun)
When a bird is dying, its calling sounds grievous; when a person is dying, his/her speech is kind.

  (2) Ren2   wei4 cai2 si3, niao3 wei4 shi2 wang2.            person for wealth die  bird  for  food die         People die for (seeking) wealth, while birds die for (seeking) food.
 (3) Ren2  guo4 liu2 ming2, yan4        guo4 liu2 sheng1.
    person pass leave name  wild goose  pass leave voice
    People pass the world leaving their names, while wild geese pass the sky leaving their voice. (its meaning is similar to Ian's first Korean proverb, but with opposed order)
Example (1) is from Confucius's quotation. Generally traditional folk proverbs seem to take the metaphorical subject-object order more often.

    On Friday, June 18, 2021, 12:24:36 PM GMT+8, JOO, Ian [Student] <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk> wrote:  
  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,Ian


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