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 speaker and interlocutor participate. In this work, we analyze 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 are analyzed. Most of the proverbs have subject and predicate in the 3rd person, which is related to universal character of proverbs. The subjects are mainly in the nominative, including proverbs with unstated subject. Since genitive NPs in existential sentences and some dative NPs have 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. Subject in proverbs mainly refer to human, sometimes 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 sentenced as metaphors, but very often 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 saying the proverb to a particular interlocutor in a specific situation, very often his personal experience and he as the narrator are hidden behind general truths and traditional values expressed in a proverb.
Key words
proverbs; subject; syntactic analysis; semantic properties
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