ENGLISH PROVERBIAL STRUCTURES AND THE MEANING OF THEIR INTERCONSTITUENT RELATIONS
Dipublikasikan di: Prosiding Seminar Nasional WACANA BAHASA DAN SASTRA BANDINGAN SEBAGAI KAHASANAH NUSANTARA. 2012 Prodi Sastra Inggris dan PMN
Oleh: Iqbal Nurul Azhar
Abstrak: Penelitian ini memiliki empat tujuan.: (1) dapat mendeskripsikan struktur proverba bahasa Inggris; (2) menjelaskan keeratan hubungan antarkonstituen pembentuk proverba bahasa Inggris (3) menjelaskan pola-pola pilihan kata dalam struktur proverba bahasa Inggris; serta (4) menjelaskan makna hubungan antarkonstituen pembentuk proverba bahasa Inggris. Manfaat teoritis dari penelitian ini adalah: (1) mendukung dan merevisi teori terdahulu tentang proverba bahasa Inggris, serta (2) menambah pemahaman tentang kajian sintaksis, semantik dan proverba bahasa Inggris. Manfaat praktis dari penelitian ini adalah: (1) membantu penerjemah menerjemahkan proverba bahasa Inggris berdasarkan pengetahuan terhadap struktur dan makna hubungan antarunsur pembentuknya, (2) membantu para guru bahasa Inggris menjawab pertanyaan siswa mereka tentang struktur proverba bahasa Inggris dan makna hubungan antarunsurnya, (3) menjadi referensi pengkajian peribahasa bahasa Inggris dan Indonesia. Jenis penelitian ini adalah deskriptif kualitatif dengan menggunakan pendekatan teori grounded. Desain penelitian ini adalah studi kasus tunggal tiang terpancang dengan menggunakan langkah-langkah analisis data kualitatif yang dikembangkan oleh Spradley. Metode yang dipakai dalam proses penyediaan data penelitian ini adalah metode simak dengan menggunakan tiga teknik lanjutan yaitu (1) teknik simak bebas libat cakap dengan strategi simak scaning, (2) teknik catat dengan strategi catat berkode dan (3) teknik rekam. Ada tiga metode yang digunakan dalam menganalisis data dan membaginya ke dalam taksonomi-taksonomi yaitu; (1) distributional method, (metode agih), dan (2) identity method (metode padan). Hasil penelitian menunjukkan: (1) bahwa struktur-struktur proverba bahasa Inggris sangat bervariatif mulai dari bentuk sederhana seperti frasa, hingga ke struktur yang kompleks yaitu kalimat majemuk kompleks, (2) bahwa sifat hubungan antarkonstituennya tidak beku yang ditandai dengan dapat dilihatnya kemunculan fenomena pelesapan, substitusi, permutasi dan ekspansi konstituenkonstituen pembentuk proverba dalam tuturan tulis, (3) pembuat proverba memiliki kecendrungan untuk menggunakan beberapa leksikon khas, yaitu: (a) leksikon tertentu yang dapat membangun struktur lahir, (b) leksikon yang di dalamnya terdapat pemanfaatan aspek fonem, serta (c) leksikon yang memunculkan gaya bahasa, (4) bahwa leksikon pembentuk proverba memiliki peranan yang khas dalam membangun makna proverba.
Kata-kata Kunci: struktur, style, makna, konstituen, proverba
Proverbs play important roles in human’s communication, and because of that, human has to understand their meanings and their logical reasoning behind the existance of the meanings. Human has to understand that proverbs are actually the derivation of both linguistic and meaning forms. Besides, proverbs are able to convey implicit messages which exist in various unique language patterns. The extensive reach of proverbs makes them so attractive to study. By studying proverbs, a numerous number of ideas on how people should think and digest the meaning of a proverb can be extracted, some world’s concepts and categories can be seen, the ways people should transfer local wisdoms from old generations to new generations can be understood, and the creativeness of human to bunch words up so that the words have meanings can be studied.
Bibliographies nowadays have recorded approximately 20.000 book’s volumes related to proverbs around the world. Every year, the collection of the volumes increases 200 exemplars (Mieder, 2004: xii). English speaking countries on the other hand have their own proverbs which exceed 1000 entries (see Simpson and Speake, 2002). From all numbers of proverbs, there are at least 248 proverbs appear as common proverbs which are oftenly used in daily communication among themselves (www.learn-english-today.com).
English, as an international language and as a language that plays role in global communications, has been studied well. The studies have been conducted using many perspectives and commonly from its internal aspects of the language such as words and grammar, its psychological characteritics, its usage in literary works, and of couse its learning-and teaching process of acquiring the language. In linguistics sphere, English is considered as the core language to study. Most of linguistic cases are about English language.
Uniquely, though there are many linguistic studies putting English language as the target of the studies, not many of them take English proverbs as their main objective. Books in society though published undertopic English proverbs, yet not many can be called as comprehensive books.
There are around 15 books about English proverbs conserved in many Indonesian libraries or uploaded in the internet. Unfortunately, not many of them discuss proverbs comprehensively using linguistic apperoaches. Most of the books only list various kinds on proverbs, put them in a list, treat the list as a dictionary, and explain the meaning of the proverbs and their functions in society. Most of the books discuss proverbs using socio-cultural perspectives, whereas, using linguistic perspective, hundreds of proverbs are also challenging to research.
This article is an effort to understand more on English proverbs which usually appear in written texts based on their syntactic-semantic aspects. By undestanding this, it is hoped that the readers of the texts who treat English as foreign language, will be faster in digesting the meaning of sentences containing proverbs. They will not ask about the unique structures of proverbs, about why they are syntacticly unique, and they will not easily state that sentences in some texts are errorful before they check the sentences whether they contain proverbs or not.
For the native of English, by understanding the unique internal aspects of proverbs, they will not endoubtedly decide whether an utterance is a proverbial utterance, idiomatic, sayings or ordinary sentences. They will be more careful in utilizing proverbs to make sentences, since once they missconstruct the proverbs, this will make the readers confused, particularly the readers whose mothertonge are not English and have limited experience in encountering sentences containing proverbs. Besides, the error in constructing proverbs can reduce the aesthetic values and also the wisdoms behind them.
Based on the background above and to make the study to become focus, this study is guided by three research questions, those are: (1) how are the structures of English proverbs, (2) how are the relations of the constituents that make up the proverbs (3) how are the patterns of lexical choice used to construct English proverbs, (4) how are the meanings of English proverbs’ interconstituent relation
B. Review of Related Literature
When a researcher is about to conduct a study of a certain language, he usually has to encounter two options; (1) he might adopt one of theories and deductively explains some theoretical aspects of the data being studied, or (2) he might use various theories and utilize them as a binoculars to approach the data being studied (Kridalaksana, 1988: 26).
The first option does not satisfy the writer. Linguistics nowadays has grown rapidly. If the writer only uses one theory, the writer will ignore various interesting facts uncovered by the theory. The second option my bring problems to the writer since it might bring inconsistency on how to percieve certain language phenomena. Yet this risk must be taken so that he is able to focus his attention to the data and not to the single theory he adopts. Though the research is quite flexible, still the research is scientific. All problems being discussed during the study have passed strict procedures.
To start introducing the flexibility of this study, in this part, some works or thoughts of scholars, which directly or inderictly influence the process of conducting the study, are highlighted. The scholars’ works cover various fields, and they encourage the reseacher to behave flexible towards the proverbial phenomena.
A specific theoretical book that discusses proverbs was written by Mieder (2004). He explored proverbs using linguistics perspectives (phraseology). Meider, whose words are mostly quoted in this study, wrote a guide book on how to understand proverbs. His book entitled “Proverbs: a handbook.” focused more on discourse and pragmatical aspects that could be perceived trough proverbs phonomena. The teories in his book have became the foundation of the theories resulted from this study.
Studies on proverbs have been done using personal, cultural, formal, and cognitif aspects such as by Lakoff and Turner (1989), Flavell (1997), and Obododimma (1998). They studied proverbs using different point of views. Lakoff and Turner studied proverbs using methaporical aspects of proverbs, Flavell inventarized proverbs by making a dictionary which told the origin of proverbs, and Obododimma tried to correlate proverbs with gender perspectives.
Briggs (1985), Christian (1979), and Yao-yun (2008) also wrote some works related to proverbs. Briggs studied proverbs from the appereance of them in Spain. Christian listed several kinds of proverbs and discussed them based on their rhymes and contextual meanings. While Yao-yun studied proverbs using education formal aspects.
Some Indonesian writers also inspires this study. They wrote Indonesian proverbs. They are Yunus, Tarigan, Sudarma and Sande. Yunus (1984) wrote traditional East Javanese proverbs. Tarigan (1979) listed and explained the meaning of many local proverbs. Djayasudarma (1997) studied many Sundanese proverbs from cultural perspective. Sande (1994) put Toraja’s proverbs as his main focus of study. All of them explain proverbs using cultural perspectives.
Other Nusantara scholars studied proverbs using linguistic approaches. They were Macaryus (2009:93-101) and Hasan accompanied by Azma (2009:179-182). Macaryus classified the functions of water that became one of proverbs’ construction components, while Hasan dan Azma, they focussed their study on the diction of fauna in the proverbs. The two works facussed on meaning and diction of proverbs. Among the linguists who put proverbs as their main focus, there was one linguist who explicitly focussed his study on structural and semantical aspects. He was Sumarlam (2006).
C. Research Method
The sources of this study are two books and one website that list English proverbs. The two books are: English Proverbs Explained (1982) written by Ronald Ridout and Clifford Witting and Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (2002) by John Simpson and Jennifer Speake. The website is http://www.answers.com
From the three sources, the study obtains 259 proverbs and put them in a certain table and treat them as data corpora. The process of making the corpora is very strict since it involves validation procedures.
This study is a qualitative study using grounded theory approach. The design of this study is embedded single case study using Spradley’s (2007) phases. The method used to obtain the data is the nonparticipant observation method. This method involved one basic technique and one further technique. The basic technique to collect data is tapping, and the further techniques are recording and taking not. There are two methods to divide the data into taxonomies, those were; (1) distributional method, and (2) identity method. The two are used in turns to find the patterns that can answer the research questions.
D. Findings and Discussions
Based on the analysis of data, it is found that the structures of proverbs vary in form. Some of the structures are in the form of phrases, some are in clauses (simplex and complex). No a single-word-structure-proverb found in the data corpora. Other uniquety of English proverbial structure are; English proverbial structures can be formed into interrogative, e.g. What is the good of a sundial in the shade? (corpus number (c.n) 249) and When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman? (250) and conditional sentence, e.g. If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers’ hands (c.n.123) and If it were not for hope, the heart would break (c.n.124). These uniquety do not occur in Indonesian or other local language proverbs.
The proverbs various structures when they are grouped based on their characteristics, can be devided into two, those are monomember structure, and polimember structure. Monomember structure is a structure which characterizes only one proverb, while polimember structure is a structure which characterizes more than two proverbs. Among the two, the study emphasizes on the second since it is very interesting and really resembles various patterns. Besides, the researcher’s limit of time makes him narrow the analysis on this area.
Based on the study of polimember structures, it is found that these structures can be divided into two, those are phrasal proverbs and sentential/clausal proverbs. Phrasal proverbs can be divided into two: verbal and adjectival phrase proverbs. Sentential proverbs can be divided into four, those are: (1) nonverbal sentence proverbs, e.g. “A bully is always a coward,” (c.n.20) “Patience is a virtue” (c.n.177), (2) verbal sentence proverbs, e.g. “A bad penny always turns up” (c.n.12), “Good wine needs no bush” (c.n.108), (3) in-between-verbal-nonverbal sentence proverbs, e.g. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” (c.n. 213), “Handsome is as handsome does” (c.n.110), and (4) proverbs with no clear category, e.g. “Like father, like son” (c.n.137), “Better be an old man’s darling, than a young man’s slave” (c.n.46). These findings give the answer to the first research question.
Beside finding the structures of proverbs, the study also finds another fact related to the possibility of gammatical rules breaking. Some proverb sentences contain grammatical errors, such as in: “Findings keepings” (c.n. 90), “Losers weepers, finders keepers” (c.n.144),” Waste not, want not” (c.n.246).
This research has not only been successful to know the English proverbial structures, but also to know the relations of the constituents that make up the proverbs. Based on the study, the relations of the constituents that make up the proverbs are not the same with the rigid/frozen relations proposed by Sumarlam (2006). The dissimilarity lies on the characteristics of English proverbs that are so dynamic. This is shown by the relations of the constituents that are not closely bound.
|Like father like Son||And like son, like father, if one may so vary the old expression. Neither of them reading men.||1983. ‘M. Innes’ Appleby & Honeybath. xii.|
|Actions speak louder than words||Deeds speak louder than words. First she tells you the most damning things she can, and then she begs you to believe he’s innocent in spite of them?||1898. C. G. Robertson Voces Academicae i. i.|
Experience is the father of wisdom
|He by the longe and often alternate proof had gotten by greate experience the very mother and mastres of wisedome.||1547. E. Hall Chronicle (1548) Rich. III 31|
From the table above, we can see that the structures of proverbs that in common knowledge are known as rigid or frozen (as Sumarlam says), in fact they are flexible. The flexibility depends on the writers’ language style. Since this, the answer of the second research problems has been found. This aswer calls for revision of the proverbs definition proposed by some researchers (Sumarlam and Mielder). The original definition:
“A phrase that has a rigid structure and compact shape, has a figurative meaning, contains an element of wisdom, truth, and moral values, and widely circulated in the community because of the process of transfer of culture from generation to generation”
By considering the result of this study, has to be changed in to:
“A phrase that usually has rigid structure and compact shape, usually has a figurative meaning, contains elements of wisdom, truth, and moral values, and widely circulated in the community because of the process of transfer of culture from generation to generation.”
After finding the structure and the closeness of the the relations of the constituents that make up the proverbs, this study also finds two patterns of word choices to construct proverbs. Those are, the choice of constructing proverbs using special lexical patterns, and of constructing proverbs using special phonemical patterns.
The first choice can be either a lexical pattern, lexical couple patterns, or lexical group pattern. The examples of these pattern are the use of lexicon make in proverbs “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “a still tongue makes a wise head,” lexicon no in proverbs “no cross, no crown” and “no cure, no pay,” lexicon and in proverbs “bear and forbear” and “give and take,” lexicon let in proverbs “let sleeping dogs lie” and “let the cobbler stick to his last,” lexicon like in proverbs “like father like son,” and “like master, like man,” lexicon for in proverbs “an eye for an eye” and “nothing for nothing,” lexicons do not at the beginning of the sentence in proverbs “don’t change horses in mid-stream” and “don’t cross the bridge till you come to it,” lexical couple patterns such as: better-than in proverbs “example is better than precept” and “prevention is better than cure,” lexical couple patterns all-that in proverbs “all is fish that comes to the net” and “all is well that ends well,” lexical couple patterns every-has in proverbs “every cloud has a silver lining” and “every jack has his jill,” lexical couple patterns he-who in proverbs “he who hesitates is lost” and “he who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day,” and lexical group pattern such as, do not make in proverbs “a swallow does not make a summer” and “two wrongs don’t make a right,” as good as in proverbs “a miss is as good as a mile” and “enough is as good as a feast,” lexical group pattern is known by in proverbs “a man is known by the company he keeps” and “a tree is known by its fruit,” lexical group pattern it is-that in proverbs “it is a long lane that has no turning” and “it is a poor heart that never rejoices,” lexical group pattern “you can not make-without” in proverbs “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs” and “you cannot make bricks without straw.”
By using phonemes choice approach, it is found several phonemic styles, those are alliteration, assonance, consonance, consonant rhyme, and parallelism. Alliteration is defined as the the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. Two of proverbs are the example of the styles, those are: “A miss is as good as a mile and cut your coat according to your cloth.” Assonance is defined as the repetition of the sound of a vowel or diphthong in nonrhyming stressed syllables. The examples of assonace are “A friend in need is a friend indeed” and “losers weepers, finders keepers.” Consonance is defined as the recurrence of similar consonants in close proximity chiefly as used in prosody. “All is well that ends well, to err is human, to forgive divine” are the examples of this style. Consonant rhyme is defined as rhyming with similar consonants, and can clearly bee seen in a proverb “beware of an oak, it draws the stroke; avoid an ash, it counts the flash; creep under the thorn, it can save you from harm.” The last, parallelism is defined as the use of successive verbal constructions in poetry or prose that correspond in grammatical structure, sound, meter, meaning, etc. Proverb “A man is as old as he feels, and a woman as old as she looks,” and proverb “A place for everything, and everything in its place” are the examples of parallelism.
The discovery of the six patterns above complements the phonemic styles mentioned by Aurora (in Mieder, 2004: 7). Aurora mentioned three phonemic styles of proverbs namely alliteration, parallelism, and rhyme consonants. This study, on the other hand, adds two more phonemic styles, those are assonance, and consonance.
Based on lexical choice, it is found nine language styles. Those are: ellipsis, paradox, repetition, metathesis, anastrophe, rhetoric question, hyperbole, apostrophe, and allusion. Ellipsis means the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or be understood from contextual clues. The example of ellipsis are: “East or west, home’s best,” and “Once bitten, twice shy.” Paradox means a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory. The example of paradox are “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Good fences make good neighbours.” Repetition is defined as the action of repeating something that has already been said or written. This style can be seen from proverb “All is well that ends well,” and proverb “An eye for an eye.” Metathesis means the transposition of sounds or letters in a word: The example of metathesis are: “Live not to eat, but eat to live,” and “More people know Tom Fool than Tom Fool knows.” Anastrophe is defined as the inversion of the usual order of words or clauses. The example of this style are: “After a storm comes a calm, and “Between two stools one falls to the ground.” Rhetoric question means a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply. The example of this style are “What is the good of a sundial in the shade? And “When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman?” Hyperbole is is any rhetorical device or figure of speech that employs exaggeration. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally. The example of hyperbole is “It is a long lane that has no turning,” Apostrophe is defined as an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified). The example of this style is “He who hesitates is lost, He that cannot obey cannot command.” Allusion means an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly or an indirect or passing reference. The example of this style is “when Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman?” These findings become the third answer of the research question of this article.
Proverbs are derivation of linguistic as well as meaning form. They can reflect various implicit messages exist in the typical language patterns. Moral values that exist in some proverbs sometimes need to pass decoding proses before their meanings are digested by the readers. This happens because some proverbs have unique shapes and the readers need reveal their hidden meanings by doing reflection process from their original form. By this fact, proverbs can be divided into two types, namely direct proverbs, and reflective proverbs
The second discussion underlines the co called synonymic symbolic patterns. Synonymic symbolic patterns are synonymous relationship between symbolical patterns of nouns as a part of the proverbs. Synonymic relations show that in some proverbs, there are nouns which actually have no synonym relationship at all, or even not in the same field and nuances of meaning, yet when the have undergone the process of interpretation, they turn out to have the same message.
The following table contains distinctive nouns (as parts of proverbs) which refer to the same meaning. They refer to valuable things.
|All that glitters is not gold||Appearances can be deceptive. What look good on the outside may not be so in reality.|
|No cross, no crown||No one can expect to achieve anything worth while without pain|
|Silence is golden||There are times when it is better to be silent than to speak|
|Speech is silver, silence is golden||There are times when it is better to be silent than to speak|
|Time is money||Time is valuable and should not be wasted.|
Based on the above findings, the researcher can eventually find a conclusion about proverbs, that is: “when we’re talking about a proverb, we are actually talking about three major aspects exist in the proverb. The three aspects, since they refer to the internal characteristics of provers, are called the “internal triaspects” of English proverbs. These three internal aspects are: (1) the structures, (2) the styles, and (3) the meanings of proverbs.
E. Closing Remarks
This study has been digging deep into all things related to the internal intricacies of English proverbs. However, the writer believes that there are many things associated with the internal aspects of proverbs eluded by this study. There are stills many informations about proverbs have not been discovered. For that reason, the writer invites linguists, primarily phraseologist, to crowd together to conduct researches or studies related to English proverbs primarily related their internal aspects.
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 Dosen Fakultas Ilmu Sosial dan Budaya Universitas Trunojoyo Madura