XLVIII Международная филологическая научная конференция

Having your cake and eating it in English and other European languages: a comparative study of the metaphorical concepts involved

Izabela Dixon
Koszalin University of Technology, Poland
Harald Ulland
University of Bergen

13:00 - 13:20

Ключевые слова, аннотация

Proverb equivalents, Multilingual paremiography, Contrastive paremiology, Proverbial metaphors, Proverbs in corpora.


As R. Petrova points out in her chapter on Contrastive Study of Proverbs (in Hrisztova-Gotthardt & Aleksa Varga, 2015), when comparing equivalent proverbs in different languages, sometimes a remarkable variation of images expressing the same concept can be found. It seems that the English proverb You can’t have your cake and eat it and its foreign equivalents illustrates this point well. In our paper we analyze the most effective strategies for choosing proverbial equivalents in other languages while discussing the very notion of paremiological equivalents, both intra-linguistic (paremiological synonyms) and inter-linguistic. To be counted as equivalent, proverbs in different languages need to have something in common, such as structural components apart from the meaning. The titular proverb consists of two parts: (1) A statement of «impossibility» You can’t… plus (2) a situation (have your cake) and a contradiction of that situation (eat it). The corresponding proverb in French On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre, (literally: One cannot have the butter and the money for the butter) would yield a similar structure to the English proverb and produce a similar effect. In some languages, proverbs conveying similar dualities can be expressed formally by the numeral two, as is the case in German Man kann nicht auf zwei Hochzeiten gleichzeitig tanzen (lit. You cannot dance at TWO weddings at the same time). In our paper, candidates for equivalents of the cake proverb in a number of languages (Germanic, Romance, Slavonic and others) will be discussed, paying special attention to the variety of metaphorical concepts involved. We will also attempt to give a brief survey of occurrences of these proverbs in some text corpora of some of the languages.