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Re: Common root of proverbs?

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on July 13, 2005

In Reply to: Common root of proverbs? posted by Angela on July 13, 2005

: A high percentage of English proverbs are quite similar or even literally the same as the Spanish, French or Italian ones. Does anyone know the common root of these proverbs, and how they spread over these countries?

A high percentage of English proverbs are quite similar or even literally the same as the Spanish, French or Italian ones. Does anyone know the common root of these proverbs, and how they spread over these countries?

Well, I think one reason is that the life-experiences of the peasant cultures of Western Europe had a general family resemblance, in terms of religion, flora & fauna, farming techniques, and family and social organisation, so it's natural that proverbs in the various European languages should also resemble each other in the way that (say) Tuareg and Inca proverbs might not. For example, evidently both the French and British peasantry knew the same market-trader's trick of selling a man a piglet, pretending to put it in a bag to carry home and substituting a cat, which has given rise to the English saying "buy a pig in a poke" and the French "acheter chat en poche".

It's also true that much popular literature and many stories were common to Western Europe from early in the Middle Ages - e.g. Aesop's fables, and collections of saints' lives such as the "Golden Legend". (VSD)