«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday
Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna
Categorization as a Key to Understanding the Use of Proverbs
We do not easily get rid of our categorizations. "Once young […]" wrote Barbara Kirschenblatt-Kimblett to her Facebook friends when she celebrated her 70th birthday. Kirschenblatt-Kimblett is a paremiologist and the mental architect of the European Jewish Museum in Warsaw. She knows well how proverb patterns like Once a thief, always a thief function in our minds. The focus of this article is on the question of categorization as an important mechanism in proverb use and what it may entail. Study of different functions of proverbial speech (Lauhakangas, 2004 & 2007) raises the questions of categorization and leads to an investigation of the connections between proverbial thinking and some central tendencies to generalize our experience and see contrasts and borderlines in our social surroundings.
An important verbal strategy that can function in proverb use is our readiness and ability to change the mood of discussion and text even backwards. The possibility to shift the register by using a proverbial interpretation will be exemplified in this article. The term 'register' is according to linguist Michael Halliday usually defined simply as functional variation between texts (1985:44). Here, the term must be broadened to folkloristic interpretation in order to reach its cultural relevance in language use – now especially in proverb use.
Aims and Methods of the Case Study
The best methodology for this kind of research is to find anecdotes in real life. The precondition for recognizing proverb use is familiarity...
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