Proverbial expressions and trite sayings are the flowers of the rhetoric of a vulgar man.
Would he say that men differ in their tastes; he both supports and adorns that opinion by the good old saying, as he respectfully calls it, that What is one man’s meat, is another man’s poison.
After all, a well-chosen maxim (a memorable phrase) or a well-known proverb add considerable communicative and emotional quality to the political discourse and might well underscore the value system and mentality of the people (Raymond 1956; Mieder 1997).
It would be a welcome task to trace the humanistic value of proverbs in sociopolitical discourse throughout the centuries, including the proverbial rhetoric of Cicero, Thomas More, Martin Luther, Otto von Bismarck, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to name but a few of many candidates (Mieder and Bryan 1996).
This effective preoccupation with proverbs for sociopolitical improvements can also be observed in the impressive oratory of Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Bernie Sanders in the modern age.
The ubiquitous proverbs underscore various political messages and add metaphorical as well as folkloric expressiveness to the worldview that social reformers and politicians wish to communicate.The fact that such contradictory proverb pairs as “Out of sight, out of mind” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “Look before you leap” and “He who hesitates is lost” exist makes it perfectly clear that proverbs are not based on a logical philosophical system.Proverbs are as contradictory as life itself, and depending on their use in a certain context, they prove to be either true or false.Proverbs are indeed everywhere and have been studied form a multitude of perspectives from the classical times of Aristotle to the humanists like Erasmus of Rotterdam and on to such great minds as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bertolt Brecht in more modern times who both did not only use proverbs but also showed great theoretical interest in them (Mieder 2014b, pp. Their steady appearance in the epideictic inaugural addresses of American presidents is certainly proof positive that they continue to be of considerable humanistic value in sociopolitical discourse (Mieder 2005, pp. In his enlightening article on “Maxims, ‘Practical Wisdom,’ and the Language of Action: Beyond Grand Theory”, the political scientist Ray Nichols has argued convincingly that political rhetoric must be characterized by “‘practical wisdom,’ ‘practical knowledge,’ ‘practical reason,’ [and] ‘practical judgment’” (Nichols 1996, p.687) that literally calls for proverbial praxis in the rhetoric of politics.Altogether this handbook presents ample proof that the ubiquitous proverbs always have been and most certainly continue to be part of oral and written communication.They serve the human inclination to summarize observations and experiences into generalized nuggets of wisdom that in turn can be employed as ready-made comments on everyday relationships and sociopolitical affairs of various types.The collection and study of proverbs goes back to antiquity with comprehensive studies existing in various languages (Lambert 1960, pp. Archer Taylor’s (Taylor 1931) is considered the classic survey of the origin, content, and style of proverbs including a final section on such sub-genres as proverbial expressions, proverbial comparisons, and wellerisms.The more recent (2004) presents an update of sorts by including the modern paremiological scholarship with a special section on the various scholarly approaches to the study of proverbs: (1) proverb journals, essay volumes, and bibliographies; (2) proverb collections and future paremiography; (3) comprehensive overviews of paremiology; (4) empiricism and paremiological minima (the most frequent 300 proverbs for a given language, see (Mieder 1992; Haas 2008)); (5) linguistic and semiotic considerations; (6) performance (speech acts) in social contexts; (7) issues of culture, folklore, and history; (8) politics, stereotypes, and worldview; (9) sociology, psychology, and psychiatry; (10) use in folk narratives and literature; (11) religion and wisdom literature; (12) pedagogy and language teaching; (13) iconography: proverbs in art; and (14) mass media and popular culture (Mieder 2004, pp.Proverbs as strategic signs for recurrent situations have long played a significant communicative role in political rhetoric.Folk proverbs as well as Bible proverbs appear as expressions of wisdom and common sense, adding authority and didacticism to the multifaceted aspects of sociopolitical discourse.