Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature and Mass Media
4. “It Pays to Proverbialize” Folk Wisdom in the Modern Mass Media 121
There have been and there continue to be those voices that cling to the claim that proverbs have little significance in modern technological societies. They argue that this traditional folk wisdom is in fact so much on the decline that the death of proverbs is imminent both in oral and written communication.i Such prophecies of gloom are definitely unfounded, as has been shown in numerous publications around the world. Proverbs do indeed continue to play an incredibly important role in human communication of all sorts, be it verbally in normal conversation, more deliberate socio-political rhetoric or in the written words of letters, diaries, reports, essays, and books of all types.ii Proverbs contain the wisdom and insights that humankind has gained through observation and experience, and as so-called “monumenta humana” iii they are the everyday and common-sense philosophy of all people. This has been the case for millennia, as the earliest extant proverb collections on Sumerian cuneiform tablets show. Some proverbs like “Big fish eat little fish” have been traced back to the earliest written records,iv but they might well have been in common use already in pre-literate times. But while some proverbs have an incredibly long history and broad geographical and linguistic distribution, there are also those proverbs which are of more recent origin with but a national or regional distribution. And although some proverbs do indeed disappear over time due to their archaic wording or their outdated message, there are also newer proverbs that fit modern times and...
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