[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
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,
• 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.
> 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
>> (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”).
>>> 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?
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> 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>
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Prof. M.M.Jocelyne FERNANDEZ-VEST
CNRS & Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
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