Chinese Proverbs in American Verbal Culture

Ekaterina A. Iakovleva, Olga V. Nikolaeva


The paper deals with the question of Chinese proverb quotations in American mass and social media discourse. This is a specific aspect of a much broader issue of intercultural communication, that is how proverbs being both verbally and culturally unique enter entirely different society and eventually become the part of its verbal culture and communication. Despite significant research made in the field of language contacts, especially loanword phenomena, there are still apparently few works devoted to proverb borrowings. However, the evidence proves that foreign language proverbs freely and extensively circulate in many world languages. In this regard contemporary English, where their frequency as well as diversity has recently become remarkably conspicuous, deserves a special study. Numerous proverbs of other countries are not only quoted in the English-language communication, but also enter proverb corpora and dictionaries of English. It holds particularly true for the phenomenon of Chinese proverbs. The empirical data show that adoption of these set phrases by American English is becoming more and more common. It seems that the reasons for the integration of Chinese wisdom into American verbal culture lie in strengthening of China position on international scene as well as expansion of diplomatic contacts and ties. In this paper we address the question of what actually governs the ways of naturalization of Chinese sayings and proverbs in the American English.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2016.v7n1s1p284

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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