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Life is more than sayings, and many sayings help life. That is the basic overview.
First-class proverbs include brief statements. They assist broad overviews and neat views. Sound, neat and gentle proverbs can be fit for the old and young alike without being insistent, but still worth listening to. Some are also well worth taking to heart, as they give vent to looming moral thoughts and others tell of vital parts of the art of living, like this Dutch one: "Denk aleer gij doende zijt en doende denk dan nog." - "Think before acting and while acting still think." It suggest things like "Be all-round circumspect so that things can work out well," "Monitor your deeds by feedback as you move along," and so on.
Below are several rounds of sifted proverbs of such kinds and some others. There are, naturally, limits to the impacts of "the tongue" (language): often more than notions are needed. But some ideas are well worth keeping in mind, and other ideas may be worth to take into account as we proceed through life.
From the History:
From the 1940s to the end of the 1970s, dozens of North American scholars collected proverbs, proverbial expressions, wellerisms, and proverbial comparisons that were in actual use in the United States and parts of Canada at the time. The scholars acted under the direction of Margaret M. Bryant, adhering to her guidelines for the collecting work. The extensive project yielded almost 150 000 citation slips of such interesting material at first. It took ten more years to sort and edit the proverbs in the collected material. There were about 75 000 true proverbs in it.
Proverbs below were collected in North America, and published by Oxford University Press published a collection of 15 000 of them in 1992, in the Dictionary of American Proverbs. Parts of the content are quotations of Shakespeare, Emerson and other notables. The book is well designed, and contains proverb variants to choose among too. Example:
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
A basic attitude behind the eight proverbs given is that we are encouraged to venture things, but how to venture is left out, and what conditions are fit, is missing too. Thoughtless ones can probably flounder by silly ventures. Some venture proverbs may have been used to justify bad ventures too. Thus, believing in proverbs unconditionally, is risky, and should be discouraged. A neat way of thinking about proverbs so as not to be taken in by them, is here: [Link]
A nice selection to reflect on for upbringing purposes contains typically loose and open-ended rules of the thumb and perhaps underhand suggestions as to how to progress, and things to abstain from. Much depends on which proverbs are given attention, for proverb collections are a medley, and some proverbs are not good for constructive outlets. [See Ap ix-x]
Constructive utterances express things that are often valid, but much could depend on interpretation
IF YOU record well selected, helpful proverbs on tape and listen to the tapes in the evening while going to bed, you could learn thousands of helpful ideas without much effort. After getting them deeply into your system, they may come to mind often, and you may use them to add to happenings, for benefit. The Buddhist practice of Lojong, often translated as Mind Training, uses the same principles to relate to the world constructively.
On this and another page you may find utterances from North America at its relative peak in modern history, before Japanese cars and electronics outdid American cars and electronics - but not all of it, not totally. It was before outsourcing, aggravating environmental hazards through pollution and the like became alarming and demanded a better course along with deep bank crises and insecurity that made confidence dampen a while. Many proverbs reflect shared dreams and often presupposed conditions of fulfilment too. For all that, some ideas look pretty and have value to us in the changing, global times as well.
Good and sober classifications can help us to build further or go on further
If labour standards are largely successful, we may apply them - adapt them to ourself and local conditions.
By mere chance one is not likely to think and express cogently and well. One should study a lot to make deft use of good proverbs
Proverbs that served many Americans "back then and there", may not suit all and sundry, and not here and now either. They can still be entertainment. And what is more, they may assist our handling and we go about our business.
I have devised a sensible, quite all-round scheme that allows for practical use of proverbs. There is more about such figurative gold eggs here: [LINK]
Good sayings may contain sensible conclusions of significant life experiences. They may also express hopes "up in the air like balloons", so to speak. "I hope when I get to Heaven I shall not find the women playing second fiddle," is one interesting statement by Mary Watson Whitney shortly before her death. It suggests the balance of power between men and women should be changed.
Much research may be condensed into more or less figurative statements and even better too. Life experiences of scientists make for proverb-like utterances too. A few examples of the latter: "There is nothing as practical as a good theory," informs Kurt Lewin. "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong," is Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law, as he calls it (it is just a quote).
"The priest persuades a humble people to endure their hard lot, a politician urges them to rebel against it, and a scientist thinks of a method that does away with the hard lot altogether," says Max Percy idealistically on behalf of science. In actual practice, research serves technology, which serves corporations and commerce, which exploit markets, people, animals, plant life and the soil the world over. There are luckily exceptions to this scheme, but to ignore the facts of a thing is not wise. "What we need is not the will to believe but the will to find out," says Bertrand Russell.
This round of quotations were to show there are deep waters, lagoons, and puddles in life, and that some proverbs probably are tailed to puddles of life experiences, but not the deep (existential) waters anyway. It is different with Buddha's great sayings. He said he chose to tell of only what was helpful for good people in general.
Sensible old sayings reach likeable conclusions that fit a lot of times, in part because they reflect human nature, which is harder to change than nature's mild flowers. (cf. cultivars). Some proverbs seem fit for America still, and some may be adapted to the demands and conditions outside of the United States too. Besides, when it comes to likeable outlets and outcomes, it's much up to associates we have.tick tack tao it is now possible to:
Advanced "scientific laziness" (cf. quotation above) makes some invent the refrigerator, others the microwave oven, others again the infra-red oven, and so on. Some developments of "clever laziness" save work and resources through intelligent thought put into system till things work. Some results of the research process tend to save work, like the washing machine.
Some forms of mishap make people try new ways and means, and come up with something handy, like the cheece slicer. The Norwegian furniture carpenter, Thor Bjørklund patented it in 1925.
Leaving that issue aside, the busy inventor could be driven by plotting laziness at bottom - that is, a desire to make life easier, at best like the Golden Age of man, according to Greek mythology.
Proverbs on women - denigrating for most part
American proverbs are less flattering to women than men. It is a sad thing. Example: "A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree: the worse you treat them, the better they'll be."
Sayings that form attitudes to the opposite sex, had better be trustworthy and helpful (constructive). If not, social unbalances, injustice, and great unrest may grow, even suppressions of other people.
Here you get selections from a list of 166 American proverbs with variants on women. Proverbs on wives, mistresses, mothers, daughters and girls were not included - just proverbs on woman or women. All of them are not useful. It is not wrong to be principled in such an issue, but is Socrates the man to lend ears to here? "Everyone should be married. If it is successful, you will become happy. If not, you will become a philosopher." I am not so sure about that, since philosophers are few and far between, and divorces are not.
Now even though much of the above is rooted in American Proverbs [Ap], no offence is intended.
It may be a woman's privilege to bless almost any man's average ambitions and make a good show out of it.
An Army woman who fears no man may be the joy of her husband if she doesn't beat the joy out of him.
A woman's age is allowed to remain in the dark during the forty best years of her life, those between "twenty-nine and thirty-four".
Women can look pretty even after twenty-five. (Joke)
"American" fit for creativity training
Proverbs have variants, and the variants show how the living proverb tradition has worked through retelling: Variants appear, and new proverbs are formed on the pattern of older proverbs, for example. In this lies an opportunity for creativity training, and it can be fun. Conditions fit for creativity should not be locked and censorous in the first place, and should not disregard many of the basic conditions that help creativity on and up among youngsters and grown-ups either.
What makes a proverb "American"? It has been used "in that land of immigrants and their descendants in the first place, next recorded, and finally included in a dictionary as "an American proverb". It is just like that. In A Dictionary of American Proverbs we may see what regions or states given proverbs were recorded in too. [Ap xiii]
Proverbs are for marketing too
Sayings from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson are found in American Proverbs along with quotations by other famous persons, including Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and William Shakespeare, because some proverbs are taken from writings of named persons, maybe modified, and other proverbs do not have known authors linked to them. [See Ap xii; Dp] ◊
Proverbs allow themselves to be worked on as part of creativity training, brainstorming, and marketing. Thus, "The true secret to genius is in creativity (Richard Feynman)."
You may feel uplifted in thought and mind by terse metaphorical expressions, which are not infrequently part of proverbs that are put to good use
An American proverb can also be a hybridised offspring of some European proverbs - lightly modified or just translated into English, as the case may be. American immigration history itself lends credibility to that line of thinking, but there is some speculation into it too. Leaving speculation aside, the gathered proverbs of the study (above) show which states the different proverbs were recorded in, and this may be lined to US polls that tell how many of the population in the various states were of European descent, and which country they came from. If we have no direct, concrete evidence that certain proverbs are translated directly from an European tongue, we get at best statistically founded probabilities. Compare: [Statistics]
Immigrant history also has its statistical data. They may set us on the track to explore or investigate the similarity of proverbs between countries of the Old World and the New World too. That some American proverbs are English proverbs used by English immigrants in the new territories they settled in, looks rather obvious. Proverbs that originate in American soil may be rarer than the imported, immigrated ones. I find it fairly likely that immigrant subcultures kept their cherished proverbs in their new country and as their americanisation went on, rendered the proverbs into English. I would be astonished if that did not happen.
Yet, one is to give due consideration to the alternatives, such as: When for example American proverbs in states with many Norwegian-Americans are look-alikes of proverbs found in Norway (and Sweden and Denmark), theoretically speaking they may be one or more of the following: direct translations from the language; direct translations from another language that contains the same proverb; spontaneous, new occurrences of a look-alike proverbs in the hundreds and thousands.
There are many variants of proverbs. The variants serve as modifications. And to think up alternative expressions is a form a creative outlet, Such a way of handling proverbs may be suspected to have been at work, and indicates how you may use proverbs to stimulate thinking that allows alternatives, so-called divergent intelligence is at the root of it. It may be taken care of and trained too. Neural networks in the brain may get developed thus, and it could be good for you: Nice, not immoderate fun tends to be good for folks.
A good saying should be pertinent and graceous enough. You are free to try to fill in something in the way of proverbs as you wish. There is a series of patterned ways of expressing ideas that can be used to generate many more proverbial sayings - or variations over themes.
The example above about "venture" illustrates how different words are found in recorded variants, and that some variants have changed meanings too.
Fill in something funny, appropiate, interesting:
To find the proverbs in the Dictionary of American Proverbs, check its entry words. In this case, try "port", "goose", "tongue" there. Besides, there neat cross-references for entry words too. [See Ap xv]
It hardly matters where a proverb comes from or where it originates ultimately, so long as it works where we live.
American proverbs are often funny, and funny statements may uplift the mind, and so can metaphors in some of them.
Some Apt Fun First
Most languages in the world, maybe all of them, contain proverbs and proverbial expressions. Proverbs have served as culture presenters and transmitters of traditions. Some regard them as output of folk wisdom. The way of using them presuppose reservations; otherwise many of them easily get too categorical as norm givers and advice bringers. See for yourself: [MORE]
Some proverbs caution and warn against given risks and dangers, others bluff, and still others are for fun. Among the helpful proverbs are some that are aligned with deep trends. Some of these proverbs may also contain tips on how to deal with this and that.
Of course, we need to see a lot by our own light (understanding, what we grasp), and different angles include our own.
Of deep contradictions, in other words existential enough for particle physics
Where one third of the marriages break, one can say truthfully: "Marriage often breaks." If Sweden is referred to, a country where over two thirds of marriages break, it is generally valuable to say "Marriage seldom lasts, so bride-to-be, take sensible precautions ahead of time, to be better of if the marriage breaks," if Sweden is the reference or other enclaves where the majority of marriages break. If we nuance our statements carefully they can be made far more helpful, not so misleading. We use discernment to make sense.
For example, there may be happy marriages Sweden and other countries too, no matter what the average-based statistics yield when it comes to odds for successful marriages. Statistical trends and their odds do not apply full well to individual cases, or individual marriages, and there are differenced between subgroups of the culture too. Also, some couples know how to optimise their relation, by paying due attention to factors that may get critical if not, by deciding to be together in their quality time, and "get rid of pests", and so on. But what stands out as good about statistically had odds (from the divorce statistics), is that such reckoning may help us or prompt us to take sensible precautions that may come in handy in the long run. and when we know the most frequent causes of broken marriages, we may better bulwark against them in time, also if we remarry. That comes probably in addition to learning from one's experiences in the first marriage.
Some trends are not discovered easily without the help of statistics and gallup polls and other investigations. Other trends are more obvious, and a lot is grasped through overview coupled with personal, yet typical experience. Such sum-ups may further expressed both neatly and metaphorically to the end that it is both true to facts or trends and has proverbial shape.
Research summaries may be summed up also, with or without the use of apt metaphors. The advantage is a brief expression that may be recalled well; the disadvantage is that the more we condense topics by the use of fewer words and figurative speech, the less precise we may be too. Here is an example: Jerome Bruner calls a maxim of his "almost a philosophical proverb". It is "Any subject can be taught to any child at any age in some form that is honest." [Coe 119]
Now, this citation requires some added thought, perhaps. First: few things can be taught to newborn babies as they lie babbling in their hospital beds, by someone stands in the room and talks in abstract terms of many difficult subject. No matter how he rants, the babies may not learn anything of it. And yet, "If you can't explain something to a first year student, then you haven't really understood it," says Richard Feynman, with a variant, "If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't really understand it." Maybe that is true, but he talks against himself in another citation by it.
Now if decent learning is what is aspired to, one has to adapt to the subjects. In the example they can find nipples and drink milk, but further than than few may be willing to go the first frew hours.
Teaching is one activity, learning quite another. They should go well along together, based on the fundamentals of what learning is, how it works, and how to benefit optimally from it. But does it happen? Further, if you talk or preach to stones in your way, like a half-blind Bede, you may have taught, but have they learnt? That is the question, and a criterion of fruitful activity on the part of the teacher.
Now consider such as the difficulties of quantum physics and the statements of some of its forefront researchers and thinkers, for example, "One becomes entangled in contradictions if one speaks of the probable position of the electron without considering the experiment used to determine it. We should be forced, for example, to include our own eyes as part of the system (Werner Karl Heisenberg, The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory)." And "I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics," says the Nobel laureate Richard Feynman (1918-88), and also, "If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize," and "In wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation."
As research by Swiss Jean Piaget and Bruner shows, children cannot handle many laws of physics and chemistry. They may not even manage to judge when it is safe to cross the street, taking into account the speed of various vehicles there. Their minds and brains have not matured enough for it. So how one can teach them - so that they understand it - that "All mass is interaction," beats me.
Judged from this and so much else, I think it would be better for Bruner to admit that quantum physics may not be taught to four-year-olds. However, many subjects can be translated into quite sufficient common language. Popularisation of research results show it amply, I figure. Also, to present a thing in a form that the child is mature enough to benefit from - biologically and otherwise - may be possible too, by what may be called "embryonic statements" - they contain information that may be developed and differentiated in time. Simple definitions are of that shape, for example.
One should cultivate gist that matters. Bland and cultivated fairness and carefully gauged probabilities should hardly go ignored. Proverbs and proverbial statements may fit at times under some conditions, and at other times hardly so, and at other times in other conditions, not at all. Somewhere between the self-evident syllogisms and too obscure or diffuse statements, many proverbs do good and are appreciated too - and perhaps just as many proverbs don't. It depends on what they say and what they are taken to imply (suggest) by interpretations.
A largely unsettled body of "teachings and notions", therefore tantalising many
There are good odds and bad odds, and a terse saying may contain a good half-truth (probability) at large, maybe less.
We have freedom to sift evidence and gauge and evaluate much. See a rather related approach in fables of Aesop and what is added to many of these tales. [Fo].
Half-standards and incomplete norms or half-norms can be arrived at by proverbs, by such beliefs and rules of the thumb. Some among the proverbs aim at living well, others do not. And research results can be put to such uses too: "Science is what we have learned about how not to fool ourselves about the way the world is," said Richard Feynman.
Thanks to the tall "contents" of being in a human shape and body, many odd-looking things a man has to do, follow quite naturally
A young man idle, an old man needy.
A man can die just once.
Every man has a fool up his sleeve.
Many a man sees a wolf at the door because his wife saw a mink in the window.
A man is newly married who tells his wife everything.
Men are born the slaves of women.
Praise makes a bad man worse. (Partial)
Every man has one black patch, and some have two. ◊
Man gets and forgets, woman gives and forgives.
Men must work and women must weep.
Man is like a banana: when he leaves the bunch, he gets skinned.
A man never becomes an orator if he has something to say.
Man can't live in this world alone.
Man is [still] greater than the tools he invents.
The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.
There are two good men - one dead, the other unborn.
All fools are not animals without a heart, and some even get applause
A man chases a girl until she catches him.
A man without a country is like a man without a soul.
Every man to his own poison.
A man is as big as the things that made him difficult. (Our variant)
A poor man is always behind.
Only an old man has patience enough to plant a [whole] tree.
A man is as big as the things that made him mad. (Our variant)
The man who does not know himself, is a poor judge of the other fellow.
A shrewd man feathers his own nest.
All men are fools, but all fools are not men.
Men apt to promise are apt to forget.
Men build houses, women build homes.
Man is the only animal who can be skinned twice.
One man's meat is another man's poison.
Men seek less to be instructed than applauded.
Impoverishments of many kinds happen to serve future maiming unless it's bulwarked against, and the servile goodies had better go against maiming fares while there is time
Don't be a yes-man. [And if you say "yes" to that, what are you then?"
Every man should measure himself by his own foot rule.
No man can serve two masters.
When a man marries, his troubles begin.
The last man to admit he is wrong is himself.
Source: American proverbs [Ap], pp 396-405.
Man seems oblivious of the fact that his own nest is mighty trouble.
Discern to find great concerns involved
Try to assess what is the governing idea in a set of proverbs about a thing. They often reflect problems, they may contain tips for or against certain developments, and on how to handle the thing, maybe loosely.
To be able to ascertain the value of any maxim, assertion or proverb, you should get able to sift, probe and ponder on several sides to issues expressed by dubious statements. "Practice makes perfect." Here the idea is that good practice makes more adequae, to say the least.
Perhaps you may ask, "Is there any common concern of great interest involved?" To delve into that topic, it may help to adjust to common methods of literature analysis to go for such proficiencies that are called for, and allow for ample time to mature.
Decent and not immoderate literature analysis is good to know in this sort of work, and so is probability statistics at its best, and the gift of forming neat-looking conclusions.
Above, a central concern, a Leitmotif, is detected in a consecutive series of proverbial extracts, and fragments of different proverbs are fused and welded so that a few novel sayings appear. At the heart of this: "A man grows up to oust some others and get space to marry and harvest its troubles" - is not the old man's lot to get an inkling of that?
Example 2Another strain:
So: A good man who has lost trees, is not thereby barred from measuring. Is there any sort of relation between "lost trees" and "measuring"? If so, "why haven't I seen it before?" Most persons judge utterances they cannot understand, as silly, unless top physicists and other notable authorities tell them, after all. It is a sad thing. There is more on that note in the third section here: [LINK]
A fresh outlook on life and a few of its features may look silly at first, like much that is new-born. Yet, at times what first appears to be silly-looking, contains clues that are vital. But to find out of that, we may have to find finer shades of meanings that go into the cryptical statement, if it is feasible.
On a literalist level the statement is found to be almost not worth telling, because what is told looks obvious, but the two parts of the period seem unrelated. The question is: Are they related in some interesting way to us? Is there a meaning - depending on how we read the terse saying, that expresses something vital to know about, for example?
You may address the kinky topic of "lost trees": "And what is "good" anyway? And are there any possible figurative ways of expression into it, even novel ones? Ask: What might be suggested by "lost trees"?
Something that soons shows up to the student of proverbs from other times and nations, is that they use concrete words and ordinary happenings to tell of something that is not concrete and may be out of the ordinary. Idioms are such expressions where what is stated, does not mean what you might be lead to think if you read it literally, without knowing about fixed expressions (idioms) and what symbols and certain figures of speech signify. Thus, it a proverb speaks about the fox, it might be a type of cunning human that is really referred to by it.
If you detect an interesting and all-good, valid meaning by the words about "A good man . . ." above, try to say how you can be sure that your interpretation of it is valid. It could be good for you to try that, but if so, you should tell just how you succeed too. That is part of the scientific procedure, and may be part of a sensible scholar's ways too. Anyway, the enigmatic idea behind the second example was to indicate that a good teaching may be offhand-looking in the first place, and those who appear to make sense of it, they interpret, and some "put some of their own eyes into their understanding," to say it with Feynman. They project themselves into the thing, is another and far more common way of saying the same.
Summary so farAll in all, it is likely that you can be reckoned with as an expert of enigmas and cryptic utteances if you have reckoned-with education for that sort of things. Role, status, and position for it serve to back you up too.
A central concern of proverbs on many kinds of subjects - love, hate, work, leisure, and so on - can be found by a "string of beads", a consecutive series of takes.
It is better to settle for pertinent descriptions than risk a lot by silly metaphors or jokes, as the expert of extracts may seem silly till she or he is fairly well understood.
The following sayings contain tips for pondering. They are new, but aligned with derived from the sample of American proverbs right above, in the previous chapter - and they refer to probems "the American way", accordingly. Enjoy yourself; often there is nothing better to do -
The idling young one may be a fool and think differently: prepare your future accordingly
ALL FOOLS are not yes-men.
Every man who needs applause, has a fool inside his belly.
An idle young man [probably] gets worse if praised for it.
Every man has a fool up his sleeve - some have two. ◊
Insincere yes-men who serve two masters may wrong them both and themselves in he end.
Learn to study and measure in front of the important things of life if you reach up to it
MARRIAGE without room for variation must be permanent war.
He who is without any purpose, often finds room for variations and courtesy.
Every man should measure how his troubles begin a long time before marriage.
Men are born the slaves of women and go on to chases all sorts of applaudable girls anyhow. *
There are two good men - Mr. Without-Land is one, and the other can be Mr. Very Difficult after a long time.
A good man without a purpose can be compared to an old man. ◊
Where half of all marriages break, the odds of divorced fathers (or 'milk cows') are not so good
WHEN man marries, he's the last to admit his blunder.
The man who marries, should find lots of room for blunders, but does he?
When man only marries and admits his blunder, there can be plenty of room for courteous variation - perhaps.
"When man marries just one woman, he's [likely to be] the last to admit his blunder," said the Mormon.
Kinnes, Tormod, coll. A thousand selected American proverbs.
Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang, main ed: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) Oxford University, New York, 1996.
Coe: Bruner, Jerome. The Culture of Education. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996.
Dp: Fergusson, Rosalind: The Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs. Penguin. Harmondsworth, 1983.
Em: Atkinson, Brooks, ed: Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Modern Library. New York, 1950.
Fo: Handford, S. tr: Fables of Aesop. New ed. Penguin. London, 1964.
Po: Holm, Pelle: Ordspråk och talesätt. Bonniers. Stockholm, 1973.
Sjun: Allen, Gay: Waldo Emerson: A Biography. Viking. New York, 1981.
Sl: Beyer, Horst & Annelies: Sprichtwörter Lexikon: Sprichwörter und Sprichwörterliche Ausdrücke aus Deutchen Sammlungen vom 16. Jahrhundert bis zus Gegenwart. Seehamer. Weyarn, 1996.
Sx: Beyer, Horst & Annelies: Sprichtwörterlexikon: Bech. München, 1985. (The same book, another edition)
Talw: Rusk, Ralph: The Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Columbia University. New York, 1949.
Wikiquote, sv. "Richard Feynman". Accessed 22 May 2009.
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