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Title: "Like a Crab Teaching Its Young to Walk Straight": Proverbiality, Semantics and Indexicality in English and Malay
Contributor(s): Goddard, Cliff  (author)
Publication Date: 2009
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Abstract: How are proverbs connected to notions of ritual, ritual communication, and ritualized communication? Along with greetings and partings, apology formulas, and the like, proverbs fall squarely under the rubric of "smaller" ritual, in the sense of formulaic communicative practices of everyday life: utterance forms with a quality of ready-madeness, fixity, and iteration, drawn from (and understood to be drawn from) a limited corpus. To be sure, they are not situation-specific in the same way greetings and partings are. Rather, proverbs are typically used to impose particular construals upon situations. Like scriptural allusions and quotations, proverbs epitomize "double-voicing," in Bakhtin's terms, standing aside from the ongoing flow of discourse even while being integrated into it. They necessarily bring a complex interdiscursivity into the speech situation. As Hasan-Rokem (1992: 129) put it: "The application of a proverb imbues the specific situation with cultural meaning by linking it to a chain of situations all of which may be interpreted by the same proverb." Proverbs can also be seen as falling under the rubric of ritual communication - or better, "ritualized" communication - in that they recapitulate and reproduce established cultural values. They are communicative vehicles that both enact traditional authority and are partially constitutive of it.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Ritual Communication, p. 103-126
Publisher: Berg Publishers
Place of Publication: New York, United States of America
ISBN: 9781847882950
Field of Research (FOR): 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
160103 Linguistic Anthropology
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Series Name: Wenner-Gren International Symposium Series
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter

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