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

MM Jocelyne Fernandez mmjocelynefern at gmail.com
Sun Jun 20 03:02:12 UTC 2021

Dear All,

Studying at different periods parallelism in oral tradition, I would 
like to quote a few examples from a special corpus of Balto-Finnic 
proverbs originally collected by Matti Kuusi, They show that, in the 
same Cirumbaltic area, parallelism is a constant feature of proverbs, 
but both orders source-target are found, with variants between 
neighboring languages as well as within one and the same language.


/Jos on tiassä tilaa, _kyl_ on virsus_kin_ varaa/

“If there is on the road enough space, _yes_ there is in the birch-bark 
shoe room _too_”


/Jos on vartta viršušša_ki_, on_pa_ šuolla_ki_ šijoa/

“If there is room in the birch-bark shoe _too_, there is _indeed_ space 
enough on the road _too_”.

Besides a reversed order, a clear variable is the degree of dialogical 
style, Finnish proverbs using more Discourse Particles:


/Kuza tetšijäd, siäl nätšijäD/

“Where actor, there witness”


/_Kyl_//siin on näkijä kun tekijä_ki_/

« _Yes_ there is witness when actor _too_”

Finally, this “source-target” relation illustrates a problem of 
Information structuring: even in the formalized style of paremiological 
genre, the rhematic clause can precede the thematic one, as if often the 
case of conditional and comparative clauses in ordinary language.


• Kuusi Matti (ed.), 1985, /Proverbia Septentrionalia, Balto-Finnic 
Proverb Types with Russian, Baltic, German and Scandinavian Parallels/, 
Helsinki, Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, FFC Communications, 236.

• Fernandez-Vest M.M.Jocelyne, 1994, /Les particules énonciatives dans 
la construction du discours/ (Proverbe et dialogue, 34-44), Paris, PUF, 
Linguistique nouvelle.

• Fernandez-Vest, M.M.Jocelyne, 2015, /Detachments for Cohesion. Toward 
an information grammar of oral languages/, Berlin/Munich/Boston, De 
Gruyter Mouton (EALT 56).


Le 19/06/2021 à 13:00, paolo Ramat a écrit :
> Dear All,
> I wouldn't like to enlarge the discussion to topics which are similar 
> to the debated question here (as it often happens in the linguistlist 
> !). However, the two nice examples from the /Hitopadeśa /quoted by 
> Siva Kalyan seem very similar to the rhetorical figure called 
> 'similitudo' (Engl. /simile/), much used by poets from Homer on. Cp. 
> Milton's /Paradise Lost, /where the source domain  (/the Wolf/) 
> precedes the target domain (/the grand Thie/f): precisely as 'tiger' 
> and 'water'  precede  'person' and 'heart' in the Korean proverbs .
> */As/* when a prowling Wolf,
> Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
> . . . . . . .
> */So /*clomb this first grand Thief into God's Fold
> Vergil and Dante are plenty of metaphorical similes introduced by 
> /*sicut *X, *ita *Y /and,respectively,/*come *X, *così*/*similemente 
> *Y /(as X, so /similarly Y) Cp. /Parad/. 23, 1-10 etc.
> Best,
> Paolo
> Prof. Dr. Paolo Ramat
> Istituto Universitario Studi Superiori (IUSS Pavia) (retired)
> Accademia dei Lincei, Socio corrispondente
> 'Academia Europaea'
> 'Societas Linguistica Europaea', Honorary Member
> piazzetta Arduino 11 - I 27100 Pavia
> ##39 0382 27027
> 347 044 98 44
> Il giorno ven 18 giu 2021 alle ore 18:51 David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de 
> <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>> ha scritto:
>     Dear all,
>     Two well-known poetic forms which place the source before the
>     target (like Korean) are:
>     1. The Malay pantun — a ubiquitous quatrain form in which the
>     first couplet presents the source while the second couplet follows
>     with the target.
>     2. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
>     In contrast, both orders are attested in
>     3. Virgil's Aeneid
>     For the Malay Pantun, this feature is pervasive and almost
>     definitional of the genre.  For brief discussion see Gil (@).  For
>     Homer and Virgil, the source is a personal communication from
>     Yeshayahu Shen, alluding to a PhD dissertation from the Hebrew
>     University of Jerusalem, whose precise reference he was
>     unfortunately unable to provide.
>     Gil, David (1993) "'Il pleut doucement sur la ville':The Rhythm of
>     a Metaphor", /Poetics Today/ 14:49-82.
>     On 18/06/2021 15:41, Siva Kalyan wrote:
>>     At least some Sanskrit proverbs have the "metaphorical subjects"
>>     preceding the "metaphorical objects". The example that comes to
>>     mind is the following:
>>     varam eko guṇī putro na ca mūrkhaśatair api
>>     ekaścandrastamo hanti na ca tārāgaṇair api
>>     “A single intelligent son is preferable to a hundred fools;
>>     [just as] the sun is not blotted out by the multitude of stars.”
>>     Also the following:
>>     na daivam iti saṃcintya tyajed udyogam ātmanaḥ
>>     anudyogena kas tailaṃ tilebhyaḥ prāptum arhati?
>>     “Do not abandon your work, thinking it is foreordained by fate;
>>     [for] who is capable of obtaining oil from sesame plants without
>>     effort?”
>>     (Both of these examples are from the 12th-century text /Hitopadeśa/.)
>>     In addition, all the examples of metaphorical proverbs in Tamil
>>     that I can think of also have the subject-before-object order. (I
>>     don’t remember the original, but one of them goes along the lines
>>     of, “Don’t think that only your relatives can help you; the
>>     poison that you are born with may threaten your life, but the
>>     herb that saves you may come from a distant mountain”.)
>>     At the very least, there are probably strong areal tendencies
>>     here. I wouldn't be surprised if Sinospheric languages pattern
>>     one way, and Indospheric languages pattern the other way.
>>     By the way, I wouldn’t recommend using “subject” and “object” to
>>     talk about metaphor, given how overloaded these terms are
>>     already. I think the standard way of talking about metaphors is
>>     in terms of “source domain” (= your “object”) and “target domain”
>>     (= your “subject”).
>>     Siva
>>>     On 18 Jun 2021, at 2:08 pm, JOO, Ian [Student]
>>>     <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk <mailto: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
>>>     /Disclaimer:/
>>>     /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./
>>>     _______________________________________________
>>>     Lingtyp mailing list
>>>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>     <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>>>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>>     <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp>
>>     _______________________________________________
>>     Lingtyp mailing list
>>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org  <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp  <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp>
>     -- 
>     David Gil
>     Senior Scientist (Associate)
>     Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
>     Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
>     Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
>     Email:gil at shh.mpg.de  <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
>     Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
>     Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091
>     _______________________________________________
>     Lingtyp mailing list
>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>     <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>     <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp>
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
CNRS & Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20210620/f4db24e1/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list