The Proverbs Are Children Of
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 “passe?” 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
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