«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday
Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna
To Marry or Not to Marry, That Is the Question: Marriage and Singleness as Revealed Through Anglo-American Anti-Proverbs
Anna T. Litovkina
Matrimony Is the Root of All Evil (Edmund & Workman Williams,31921:275)
For centuries, proverbs have provided a framework for endless transformation. In the last few decades they have been perverted and parodied so extensively that their variations sometimes have been heard more often than their original forms.1 Wolfgang Mieder has coined the term Antisprichwort ('anti-proverb') for such deliberate proverb innovations (also known as alterations, parodies, transformations, variations, wisecracks, mutations, or fractured proverbs) and has published several collections of anti-proverbs in German and English (for a summary of relevant research, see Litovkina & Mieder, 2006:1–54). Anti-proverbs may contain revealing social comments. More often than not, however, being based on mere wordplay or puns, they are playful texts generated primarily for the goal of amusement.
All's fair for anti-proverbs: There is hardly a topic that they do not address. Marriage is undoubtedly one of the most frequent themes in Anglo-American anti-proverbs. There is a wide range of aspects of marriage pointed out in them. First of all, anti-proverbs touch the premarital, marital or post-marital roles people might play at a certain phase of their lives (to name just a few, the roles of fiancées and fiancés, brides and bridegrooms, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, widows and widowers, divorced women and men). Undoubtedly, the overwhelming majority of Anglo-American anti-proverbs depicting people in a role significant for marriage revolve around wives. Other popular...
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