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«Bis dat, qui cito dat»

«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday

Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna

Bis dat, qui cito dat – never has a proverb more aptly applied to an individual than does this Medieval Latin saying to Wolfgang Mieder. «He gives twice who gives quickly» captures the essence of his entire career, his professional as well as personal life. As a Gegengabe, this international festschrift honors Wolfgang Mieder on the occasion of his seventieth birthday for his contributions to world scholarship and his kindness, generosity, and philanthropy. Seventy-one friends and colleagues from around the world have contributed sixty-six essays in six languages to this volume, representative of the scope and breadth of his impressive scholarship in paremiology, folklore, language, and literature. This gift in return provides new insights from acknowledged experts from various fields of research.
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Rules Are Rules: Maxims in Our Time


Charles Clay Doyle

I hate simple questions; the answers are always so complicated! Recently an acquaintance asked me if proverbs and maxims are the same thing. With no premeditation, I heard myself answering, "Not exactly." But I could not, on the spur of the moment, articulate a substantial answer. I mumbled something about maxims stating rules.

Even though folklorists, for the most part, know better, the lay public often clings to the notion that proverbs as a genre typically propound rules that govern human behavior – rather than doing what the great majority of proverbs actually do: Make general observations about the social world (often comical or satiric observations) or proffer warnings or advice (often ironic or facetiously cynical advice) about personal behavior or attitudes.

The case may be different in fundamentally oral cultures, ones that lack a prevalently-employed system of writing in which regulations for conduct can be fixed and preserved, legalistically, as it were. For instance, certain African societies seem to have relied on the competing citation of proverbs to resolve legal disputes. Some similar process may, indeed, have prevailed in England in the early Middle Ages, when oral principles of Germanic law, with some influence of Roman law and ecclesiastical law, began to be loosely and informally recognized as "Common Law." Even after the cross-Channel predation of 1066, when so-called Law French emerged as the language for extensive written transcripts of judicial proceedings and legal precedents, maxims current in oral...

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