This article examines three fundamental approaches to the definition of proverbs. The first is represented by Shirley Arora, whose study of proverbs used by Spanish speakers in Los Angeles attempts to gauge the ways in which different ethnic groups perceive and qualify the distinguishing features of proverbs. The second approach is that of Devorah Silberstein, who has studied the socio-linguistic function of proverbs. And the third approach is that of Russian semiologist Grigory Permyakov, who assumes that proverbs signify certain social or cultural situations ascertainable through semiological studies that may likewise be used to reveal the metastructure into which all proverbially structured idioms can be introduced by means of reduction. The three studies have been chosen because they form a hierarchy. The first and most basic of these — Arora's — is linguistic; here only the textual elements of a proverb, without reference to external variables, are of interest to us. The second study correlates the different elements of proverbs with socio-functional situations. The third study combines the former two in focusing on the manipulative use of proverbs made by speakers and hearers in certain social or moral contexts. As a touchstone for each of these definitions, the present author uses a structurally ambiguous Hebrew proverb, "The straw that broke the camel's back".
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||מחקרי ירושלים בפולקלור יהודי|
|State||Published - 2001|