Cross-cultural Wisdom in English and Amharic Proverbs


  • Melakneh Mengistu Addis Ababa University


English-Amharic proverbs, paremiology, intertextuality, cross-cultural wisdom, linguistic determinism and relativity, thematic universals.


Proverbs are integral parts of spoken communication which reflect the national spirit and the traditional wisdom of a particular country. However, comparative studies of international proverbs have illuminated that a similar kernel of wisdom could be gleaned from cross-cultural contexts (Grauberg 1989). To that effect, a comparative analysis of popular English and Amharic proverbs has been undertaken under 30 thematic categories to determine their propositional equivalence. The comparative approach thus revealed a striking degree of thematic intertextuality between the corpus of English and Amharic proverbs. The bilingual proverbs   encapsulate the antiquarian legacies of both cultures ranging from traditional folk wisdom to philosophical abstractions of didactic-moralistic nature which transcend racial, temporal and spatial boundaries without prejudice to their national peculiarities.