SUBJECTS IN CROATIAN PROVERBS

Author:
Ivana Matas Ivanković, Goranka Blagus Bartolec
Email:
imatas@ihjj.hr; gblagus@ihjj.hr
Summary
Proverbs are specific miniature structures, contextually produced, and passed down from generation to generation. As a speech act, they are universal, they come from many individuals that have had the same experience, but at the same time, they are presented in a particular situation in which the speaker and the interlocutor participate. In this paper, we analyze the subject in Croatian proverbs. The study is based on a collection of nearly 800 proverbs from which 1,200 sentences with predicates and subjects were extracted, and then the grammatical and semantic features of the subject were analyzed. Most of the proverbs contain a subject and a predicate in the 3rd person, which is related to the universal character of proverbs. The subjects are mainly in the nominative case, including proverbs with an unstated subject. Since genitive NPs in existential sentences and some dative NPs have the semantic and pragmatic properties of subjects, they are analyzed as subjects as well. Most of the subjects in proverbs are nouns, but they can be expressed with pronouns, adjectives, infinitives and clauses. Subjects in proverbs mainly refer to humans, and sometimes to an animal, plant or an object (mainly entities from the human environment). As a thinking being, man often refers to inner or moral values as subjects in proverbs. Proverbs are used in everyday communication, but they stem from folk literature, which has plenty of different figures of speech, often based on figurative meaning. Implicit comparisons are put into the form of sentence as metaphors, but very frequently proverbs use metonymy and synecdoche in calling a thing or concept not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept. Although the speaker is uttering the proverb to a particular interlocutor in a specific situation, very often his personal experience, and he as a narrator, are hidden behind general truths and traditional values expressed by a proverb.
Key words
proverbs; subject; syntactic analysis; semantic properties
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