The Theme of Family and Home in the English and Russian Proverbs
|PROVERBS AND SAYINGS
|HOME, FAMILY, BLOOD RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATIVES IN ENGLISH PROVERBS
|A COMPARISON OF ENGLISH AND RUSSIAN PROVERBS
|Proverbs that are used in similar situations to convey the same messages in English and Russian
Family relationships were the most important traditional values among Russian and English for many centuries. It doesn’t mean that nowadays idea of family is not so important, but it traditional meaning has changed. That’s way in this work I write about traditional English and Russian families, about traditional relationships between family members. Allthough many usual families in Russia and England were similar, but every of them had their own traditional particularety. For English „my family” traditionally ment a husband, a wife and children. For Russian people this meaning was wider (there were also grandmothers and grandfathers, sisters and brothers). Sometimes also cats and dogs were called as a family mambers. It was so because of history then living conditions were not so good, many families were in need. It all encouraged the way of living in Russian families – many generations lived in one house together.
Proverbs are records of the development of civilization throughout its history. I strongly believe that to know people's culture and values, one should study their proverbs. As Ralph Linton says, “The culture of a society is the way of life of its members; the collection of ideas and habits that they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation.” (Charters-Black 1995: 24) People express their beliefs, customs, habits, knowledge, morals and any other capabilities in their proverbs.
In this work I examine the meaning, use, and purpose of English proverbs in their natural context and compare them with Russian proverbs as a means of expressing cultural and social values. It is intended to show how proverbs that differ in their culture and their wording can be used in the same situations to express similar or opposite ideas. Greg Wilston describes proverbs as: “… germs of wisdom. They are un-masked and un-adulterated images of society. In them one finds people’s ideas about life, the ideals and values they hold dear, and the elements they consider supreme in the spiritual as well as material life.” (Wilston 1990: 117)
This work attempts to answer the following questions:
1. What functions do proverbs play in society (English and Russian)?
2. How do people in England use their proverbs, and why?
3. How are proverbs used in Russian society?
4. What is people's attitude towards proverbs in English and Russian societies?
5. What are the similarities and differences between English and Russian proverbs?
6. What suggestions can be drawn from this study?
Beginning of this work focuses on a wide definition of proverb, its history and also there is a description of traditional sources of proverbs. Mainly information is used from different dictionaries.
In the second part of this work I will present English proverbs in as much depth as possible to reflect English traditional family, traditional attitude to a house and traditional relationships between English family members and to provide a framework for understanding the proverbs. As proverb users rely heavily on metaphors and similes from their surroundings, it is important for them to have knowledge and understanding of the realities of life, customs, social values and traditions of the society there they live. As I myself come from the area of the study (Latvia, Daugavpils – Russian spoken town), I share the experiences and understand in depth the culture of this society, knowing well how and when people in Russia use their proverbs and what the proverbs mean to them. I think that comparing English proverbs with proverbs from another culture with different values would give a better chance to bring a valuable treasure of English nation to light and help it to be more broadly understood.
Therefore the third part of this study compares the concepts, meanings, and uses of English proverbs with Russian proverbs as expressions of two cultures. This part is based on extensive fieldwork in Latvia. To analyse my data in this section, I relied on the comments of Russian informants concerning the meaning and usage of Russian proverbs. It was impossible to collect English proverbs in the UK in their natural context as I haven’t any possibility to stay in England. So I used different English books of sayings and proverbs, also many different dictionaries. In opposite, I used questionnaires to investigate the meaning and the use of Russian proverbs; I interviewed some individuals, both academic and nonacademic. I collected a lot of data from my questionnaires from educated and uneducated informants, classified it and arranged it by subject matter.
In this part of work, I have pointed out the similarities and differences between English proverbs and Russian proverbs in their meaning and usage. The aim is to view the similarities and differences between these two cultures through their proverbs and to find out how people in different cultures might share or differ in their feelings in similar given circumstances or situations. In this work I try to research proverbs in their natural context, it means in daily conversations. What’s way little attention has been paid to their formal study, to their use in literature, in mass media - on TV, Radio, in newspapers. It can be a topic for the next research. What I use as a corpus in this study are 28 English proverbs connected with theme of home, family, relatives that I think are frequently used in English society.
In the last Chapter, I will review the result of this study, draw conclusions from them. The chapters are followed by an appendix containing lists of proverbs, questionnaire and a bibliography.