Paremiography: A Proverb Project
o Paremiology (from the Greek – a study of Proverbs)
o Paremiography (a collection of Proverbs)
Part 1: The Prologue
There are 3 difficulties with proverbs. First, as metaphors, they must be recognized and
deciphered correctly. Two, they must be remembered and used appropriately. Three, one who is
skilled in their use must have an APPROPRIATE proverb for nearly EVERY occasion. This last
difficulty is really why the oldest members of the Ibo are considered the most wise. They have
heard them all!
o Have handy a good concise definition of Proverb and Aphorism. When having an
intelligent discussion, it is nice to have a clear idea of our terms. Giving examples is
great, but having a good definition to offer as well is even better. This will lead off your
paper, setting topic.
o Have a short introduction after your definitions that discuss your experiences, thoughts,
interests, reflections, observations, and/or concerns about this topic.
Part 2: The Pariography
Collect the Proverbs of Things Fall Apart (6 from throughout the text)
o Reproduce the proverb in an appropriate quotation (MLA format).
o Summarize the plot events that produce the proverb’s utterance and indicate who utters
o Decipher the general metaphorical meaning of the proverb.
o Explain why the proverb’s content/wisdom is appropriate to the situation and the
character uttering the proverb.
We have discussed how our culture uses proverbs. However, it seems by the general slowness
with which we identify them as ‘ours’ might mean that our culture does not put as much value on
these ‘bits of wisdom’ as 1) we have in the past, and 2) as the Ibo and other African culture do
and have in the past. Have you wondered which other cultures hold ‘wisdom-sayings’ as
immensely important parts of their cultural heritage, a measure of skill or intelligence, an
indication of personal potential, or even as political or religious foundations?
The Research and Narrative Project.
o You will look up examples from the Book of Proverbs. Here is a link to a list of
Solomon’s proverbs by topic. http://www.letgodbetrue.com/proverbs/proverb-topics.php
Here are some that are interesting in the ‘things that God finds abominable’ (under A):
11.1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the
upright is his delight.
28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be
Find a group of 3 of your own proverbs. Explain the meaning (metaphorical, religious)
and importance of the wisdom represented by the proverb. Offer a narrative description
of a situation, choice, decision, or event in which this religious proverb might be useful,
applicable, and or appropriate.
o You will research the proverbs of another culture. Select at least 3 examples. Decipher
the examples of proverbs. Give an explanation of the wisdom of the proverb – that is to
say that you must indicate the sort of (general) situation in which the proverb would be
useful/appropriate/applicable. Again, create a culturally specific (as best you can for the
culture you have chosen) narrative of a situation, choice, decision, or event in which this
religious proverb might be useful, applicable, and/or appropriate.
o Which cultures? The Chinese culture comes to mind. But maybe you want to try
another. Russian perhaps? Italian? Maybe you should choose the proverbs derived from a
culture with which you are familiar or with which your ancestry is associated. Watch out
for websites who merely translate English proverbs into other languages. That is not the
same thing at all. There is a great deal out there, be selective, be persistent, be cautious,
Part 3: Final Reflections
After you are done with your foreign culture proverbs, compare them with the proverbs you
know from our culture and from your other studies in the area (Book of Proverbs, TFA). Reflect
– what might these proverbs (taken alone) might tell us about the culture for which you
completed this paremiography.
This will be done in report format. In most ways, this is just like the MLA project you completed
in first semester. However, I would like you to be able to manipulate illustrations in your word
files, and so an illustration will be required for each of your ‘short stories’ or, more likely the
‘vignettes’ that you write for the Book of Proverbs (3) and the cultural proverbs of your choice
(3). You will need to learn how to do text wrapping and captioning for this project, therefore.
Your choices concerning: the appropriate visuals, achieving consistency in images (size,
medium, etc), the artistic appeal of your illustrations, and the ease of reading your publication
format will all receive consideration in this portion of the rubric.
It is hard to find an ESLR not met by this assignment. Research and technology, communication
in report, visual, and narrative modes, independent and curious pursuit and application of
knowledge, development of lifelong learning skills, appreciation for diversity and an awareness
of other cultures, a concern for ethics and a greater knowledge of the scriptures, and a reflective
component that urges you to internalize what you have learned; what more could you want?