Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature and Mass Media
3. “Anti-Proverbs and Mass Communication” Interplay of Traditional and Innovative Folklore 87
The conscious manipulation of so-called fixed proverbs is absolutely nothing new. After all, proverbs are anything but sacrosanct pieces of universal wisdom. Instead they express generalized observations and experiences that are as varied as life itself, quickly leading to such contrasting proverbial claims as “Out of sight, out of mind” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “Look before your leap” and “He who hesitates is lost.” Proverbs may be true in certain contexts, while in others they may prove to be false. The truth value of each and every proverb very much depends on its use and function in particular situations. While the verbal duelling with traditional proverbs is a well established phenomenon throughout the world, people have also delighted in humorously or critically confronting individual proverbs and their claim to be absolute truths. This has been accom- plished both in oral and written communication by changing the original wording of proverbs or by adding a short comment to them, the result being a humorous, ironical or satirical twist on the fixed phrase and its apparent wisdom. Take, for example, the 18th-century American proverb “Money can’t (won’t) buy happiness” and its more modern extended parody “Money won’t buy happiness, but it will go a long way in helping you” and also the short variation “Money can’t buy you love”, popularized by the well-known song “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964) by the Beatles (Mieder/Kingsbury/Harder 1992: 416; Mieder 1989: 210–211). Both of these textual alterations have become proverbial in...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.