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What Goes Around Comes Around

What Goes Around Comes Around

Kimberly J. Lau
Peter Tokofsky
Stephen D. Winick
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    What Goes Around Comes Around
    Book Description:

    In this collection of essays prominent folklorists look at varied modern uses and contexts of proverbs and proverbial speech, some traditional and conventional, others new and unexpected. After the editors' introduction discussing the history and status of attempts to define proverbs, describing their contemporary circulation, and acknowledging the especially important work of paremiologist Wolfgang Meider, the contributions examine the continuing pervasiveness and idiomatic relevance of proverbs in modern culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-512-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. What Goes Around Comes Around: The Circulation of Proverbs in Contemporary Life
    (pp. 1-19)
    Kimberly J. Lau, Peter I. Tokofsky and Stephen D. Winick

    When it comes to proverb scholarship, we have all been taught by the same master, Wolfgang Mieder, without question one of the greatest paremiologists of all time. His body of work on proverbs is so extensive as to make it nearly impossible to say anything new, but we nonetheless dedicate our efforts in this collection to that very purpose as a way of thanking him for his brilliant leadership in the field of international proverb scholarship, his unsurpassed intellectual generosity, and his incredible humor, kindness, and spirit. We only hope that the essays in this volume do justice to the...

  4. “In Aqua Scribere”: The Evolution of a Current Proverb
    (pp. 20-36)
    Charles Clay Doyle

    The name Wolfgang Mieder is not written in water. Like the names Archer Taylor and B. J. Whiting, it will long endure wherever paremiologists labor—if not chiseled in granite or cast in bronze, then firmly inked on high-quality acid-free paper. However, if Wolfgang Mieder did assert, with unmerited modesty, that his name might prove to be “written in water,” what would be the implications, proverbially speaking?

    The old expression is much alive at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A well-read portion of English speakers may associate the phrase specifically with the poet John Keats, who is reported to...

  5. “From One Act of Charity, the World Is Saved”: Creative Selection of Proverbs in Sephardic Narrative
    (pp. 37-57)
    Isaac Jack Lévy and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt

    Proverbs are used to speak the message in Sephardic narratives, and they do so with “the authority of generations” (Mieder and Mieder 1981, 310). The taletellers weave proverbs into their stories with creative selection in a variety of ways. They may choose a proverb as the opening or closing frame and link it in the telling to the heart of the message; they can cement the appeal to the past of the narrative, which begins “many years ago”¹ and ends with the wisdom of the ages; and, in literary fashion, they can even title their narrative with a proverb. Through...

  6. Baseball as (Pan)America: A Sampling of Baseball-Related Metaphors in Spanish
    (pp. 58-85)
    Shirley L. Arora

    Baseball as America is the title of major exhibition of baseball-related memorabilia organized by the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and currently touring the United States, with stops at ten cities around the country. The exhibition, which opened in New York City in March 2002 and will end in Houston, Texas, in August 2005, offers an unprecedented opportunity to view some five hundred artifacts that until now could only be seen by people who could visit Cooperstown. The official web site of the exhibition stresses the close links between baseball and the cultural history of...

  7. “You Can’t Kill Shit”: Occupational Proverb and Metaphorical System among Young Medical Professionals
    (pp. 86-106)
    Stephen D. Winick

    During the 1990s, I observed several folklore forms at work among young medical professionals in New York City and Philadelphia. Among them were the proverb “You can’t kill shit,” and its variants “Shit never dies” and “Scum never dies.” These proverbs proved fascinating not only in themselves but as a theoretical window into the workings of occupational proverbs, both as a subset of the proverb genre and a subset of occupational folk culture. On the one hand, the existence of such proverbs suggested that mainstream proverb theory needed some refinement. On the other, the specific meanings of these proverbs, and...

  8. “Cheaters Never Prosper” and Other Lies Adults Tell Kids: Proverbs and the Culture Wars over Character
    (pp. 107-126)
    Jay Mechling

    We rarely think of proverbs as “fighting words,” but the neoconservative camp in the “culture wars” that began brewing in the 1980s has appropriated proverbs and their folklore cousins—moral maxims—as ammunition in the very public rhetoric aimed at bringing morality and “common sense” back into American life. Folklorists know all too well the sorry history of the political uses of folklore in totalitarian regimes, but who would suppose that in the early twenty-first century, proverbs would be taken up as a weapon to promote an ideological cause in the United States? Writers of advertising copy, certainly, have used...

  9. The Proverb and Fetishism in American Advertisements
    (pp. 127-151)
    Anand Prahlad

    In 1977, Mieder and Mieder called our attention to the uses of proverbs in American advertisements. Undoubtedly, many of the same observations they make about proverbs are still applicable twenty years later. For example, they note that proverbs are “the most popular folklore item used by Madison Avenue” (1977, 309). A perusal of contemporary magazine advertising reveals this is still the case. The Mieders also mention some of the reasons for this, including the brevity of the genre, the poetic qualities of proverbs that draw attention to them and make them stick in the reader’s mind, and their ability to...

  10. “The Early Bird Is Worth Two in the Bush”: Captain Jack Aubrey’s Fractured Proverbs
    (pp. 152-170)
    Jan Harold Brunvand

    The English author known as Patrick O’Brian (1914–2000) was prolific and accomplished in many literary genres. (His real name was Richard Patrick Russ, and he invented his “Irish” background.) “O’Brian” wrote short stories, novels, poetry, biographies (including a notable one of Pablo Picasso), and reviews; he edited anthologies, and he made numerous English translations of French works. But Patrick O’Brian’s masterpiece, a series of twenty maritime novels set during the Napoleonic War,¹ published from 1969 to 1999, is what earned him the enthusiastic praise of critics along with legions of devoted readers around the world (e.g., Prial 1998, Lapham...

  11. As the Crow Flies: A Straightforward Study of Lineal Worldview in American Folk Speech
    (pp. 171-187)
    Alan Dundes

    “We do not see the lens through which we look.” So wrote anthropologist Ruth Benedict (1887–1948) in an essay entitled “The Science of Custom” that appeared in The Century Magazine in 1929. Although this essay was later expanded to become the first chapter of her classic Patterns of Culture, published in 1934, for some reason, this succinct articulation of the difficulty of perceiving one’s own culturally relative cognitive categories was omitted. From a folklore perspective, it suggests that one of the important potential contributions of folklore with respect to identifying the characteristics of that critical lens may be that...

  12. Contributors and Editors
    (pp. 188-190)