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A Universalist Conceptualist study of
Arabic-Yoruba Proverbs

(Dr. Lawal Noah O. Jinadu,

Foreign Languages Dept, Arabic Unit,
Lagos State University)


(The Proverb is the horse, when speech is lost, we use proverb to hunt for it)
--- The Yorubas
(Proverbs are the lamp of speech) ---The Arabs



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One of the recent cognitive-linguistic (or rather text linguistics) aspects through which
social interaction(s) is viewed as a linguistic process is intertextuality (a term that subsumes
the relationships between a given text or event, and other relevant texts encountered in prior
experience or knowledge), it is thus construed because it manifests some of the socio-
cultural processes involved in how people effectively act and react to each other through
language systems, and how they mutually share conventional knowledge or wisdom.
Intertextualization is an act of re-discovering the multiple voices, ideas and traditions
embedded within the text. This socio-cultural notions of intertextuality appositely enables
one to conclude that it is a veritable conceptual resources for (de)constructing proverbial
texts (like: proverbial phrases, comparisons, insults, retorts, wisecracks, euphemisms, etc).

Proverb is an absolute means of interacting socially within a given community, it is a lively

repertoire that harbours past and present experiences of a society. Great speakers expecially

the elderly intertextualize shared socio-cultural experiences when they use proverbs, they
spur intertextual processes on the part of their native interlocutees, they induce possible
intertextual processes when they are with the natives of another linguistic form, young
natives are often being invited to intertextualize, Proverb is from this viewpoint an
intertextual product or substance. This paper will attempt to showcase what appears to be
assumed shared cognitive stereotypes which are induced in the employment of proverbs
across two socio-cultural divides (Yorubas and Arabs).

Theoretical constructs of intertextuality as Social Interactions

Lemke¶s conclusion that text-specific meaning relations are instantiations of more global
intertextual meaning relations (1983; 1985), and Bakhtin¶s view of text as what is
constituted by plurality of heteroglossically related social positions and their distinctive
textual voicing (Bakhtin 1981), substantiate the fact that all texts (spoken or written,
proverbial or non-proverbial) are constructed, and possess meaning which text-users
assigned to them in and through their relations with other texts in some social formation
(Thibault P.J. 1998: 401). Beaugrande and Dressler (1981:182) cognitively describe
intertextuality as participants knowledge of other texts, reiterating the fact that text users
possess social and individual knowledge of text-types. To intertextualize means to
(de)construct intertextual product, which in this paper is proverbial texts of the Yoruba
natives of south-western part of Nigeria and Arab natives of North Africa-Middle East.

Within the purview of sociolinguistic perspective, Erickson and schults (1977) observe that
social interaction through the instrumentality of intertextuality is achieved by group of
ïï and not individual, this refers to the fact that people are the context for each other,
they  (i.e strategic in what they do in a given situation), they   (i.e. to previous, future
actions), their actions and reactions are not necessarily   or   , or spatio-
temporally constrained, people react through sequence of actions. Labov (1972) asserts in
consonance with the above perspectives that language is always social, inseparable from the
social contexts of which it is part. These sociolinguistic insights in this writer¶s opinion
further reflect the potentials of proverbs in that it serves as a means by which all the above-
stated social interactions are performed. People use proverbs to act, react, its forms and
usages are not spatio-temporally constrained (i.e people of different ages use proverbial
texts across times and places), they use proverbs to react through sequence of actions.

Relationship between Intertextuality and Proverbiality

As a corollary to the above-stated argument, intertextuality is assumed as cognitive process

through which past experiences (social-cultural) are recalled in the construction and
deconstruction of natural linguistic texts. These experiences include what we heard, read,
learnt, and discussed, when speakers and hearers (writers and readers) make meanings
through texts we say the speaker intertexts (constructs) his experience through text while
the hearer on his part intertext (de- or re-construct) experiences through the texts. This
process indicates various transactions and social interations that take place among the
speech or text participants (Hartman, 1995, Witte, 1992) in actual or effective
communication. The metaphor of intertextuality is currently considered as a useful tool of
understanding the complex relationship among text, talk, and context, and also as a
fundamental resources for making meaning with texts (Chi, 2001).

Proverbiality is a term that indicates a linguistic consideration of a text as proverbial (or as a
proverb), a distinction that sets it apart from other known texts like poems, riddles, songs,
and folktales, etc. Proverb is observed as being typical in form, content, context, function
and goal. Whiting cognitively identifies proverb as:

³A short saying of philosophical nature, of a great antiquity, the product of

the masses rather than the classes, constantly applicable and appealing
because it bears a semblance of the universal truth´

Owomoyela (2005:12) elaborates on the nature of Proverbial text thus:

³Proverb is often incisive in their propositions and terse in their formulation,

are deduced from observation of life and their characteristic and habits, the
environment and natural phenomenon and sober reflection on all these
express an exceptionable truths«´

Mineke Schipper (2006: 22) astutely observed that most definitions of proverbs generally
emphasize four main characteristics:

(1)| its concise fixed artistic form, (2) its evaluative and conservative
function, (3) its authoritative validity, (4) its anonymous origin.

Ü    (1:290-95) had earlier described proverbs pragmatically as:

˷ ΘΨΗϭ ˬΏΎΒγ΃ϭ ΕΎϣΪ͋ Ϙϣ ΎϬϟ ˬΎΤ
˱ ϳϮϠΗ ϲϧΎόϤϟ΍ ϰϠϋ ΎϬΑ Ρ Ϯ˷ Ϡϳ˵ ϲΘϟ΍ ΓέΎηϹ΍ϭ ίϮϣή˷ ϟΎϛ ϝΎΜϣϷ΍"
al-¶amthÉl ka al-ÉrumËz wa al-¶ishÉrah allatÊ )"ίΎΠϳϹΎΑϭ έΎμΘΧϻΎΑ ΎϬχ ˵ Ύϔϟ΃
yulawwihu bihÉ ÑalÉ al-maÑÉnÊ talwÊhan, lahÉ muqaddimÉtun wa
(¶asbÉbun, wa takhtaÎÎu ¶alfÉÐuhÉ bil ikhtiÎÉr wa bil ¶ÊjÉz
(³Proverbs are like symbols and signs indexically employed to refer to
intended meanings, it contain propositions and motives, imbued with words
which are (structurally) characterized by terseness and brevity´

It is obvious from the above references that proverbs are universally brief and terse in form,
philosophical and indexical in content, socio-culturally oriented and constructed (i.e
influence the behavior of people in the society), pragmatic, pedagogic, and
communicatively effective. The application of proverbs by a speaker is portrayed by
Gyekye1 when he says:

³The wise person reflects, imagines, intuits, and then condenses these
reflections, imaginings and intuitions in proverbs« he synthesizes -from
human experience- what is alternately real and true´

Natural conceptual reaction of receiver of proverbial discourse is portrayed in the

observation of Owomoyela (2005) when he asserts : -

³the application of proverbs causes a momentary disorientation on the part

of the hearer, followed by an intimation of some affinity between the subject

Gyekye µs submission is culled from Owomoyela¶s prologue to his captivating book ³Yoruba Proverbs´.

(or situation) under discussion and the content (Proposition) in the proverb,
and finally a recognition of the brilliance of analogy involved.´

What is thus reflected in the above references is what might be seen as actual conceptual
process of intertextuality on the part of the participants of proverbial texts, Proverbials are
observed by this assumption as product and process of intertextuality as a social
construction. this reflections will be palpably and practically displayed through some
selected proverbs later in this paper.

Arab and Yoruba Conceptions of Proverbs

The fact that proverbs and researches on proverb are central to the Arabs cannot be
gainsaid. Many Arab philologists, linguists and literati discussed through ages various
aspects of proverbs.2 The common nomenclature used by arab for proverbs is   
(plural:  ) a term often being collocated -in virtually all arabic corpora- with the term
which signifies consideration of [sth] in terms of [another], the Arabic syntactic
construct ³ 
   ´ therefore means: he describes or exposes (µ
1:548, u

The metaphoric (or rather metonymic) nature of proverb is carefully depicted in the works
  when he states that proverb expresses a subject in comparison (or
contradistinction to) with another, so that one subject is elucidated by the other 3. 

   (CE) in his exposition of the formal nature of    states that a proverbialized
speech is clearer logically, more palatable to audience, and more communicatively effective
to a speech community. 
   (1: 280) explains that the term (  ) is employed
and construed as reflector of human psyche, its user finds solace in it, so much that he
advices, commands, and repels with it,    to him is structurally characterized by its
brevity, precision, and good comparisons.

 added that proverb is a specialized text the lexes and meaning of which are
acceptable to both the privileged and hoi polloi, a commonplace secretly and openly used, a
tool by which invaluable pearls are sought from the mighty and a means through which one
is relieved of his worries.   
 by this piece provides sociological and psychological
perspective of proverbs, it is perceived as a tool of expressing ideas that could not have
been expressed directly except through great difficulty. Another significant viewpoint in
this context is a quote attributed to  !! (u

ΎϤϋ ϞϘΘϨΘϓ ˬϝϭ΍ΪΘϟΎΑ ήϬΘθΗϭ ˬϝϮΒϘϟΎΑ ϢδΘΘϓ ˬΎϬΗ΍άΑ ΔϠγήϣ ϭ΃ ˬΎϬϠλ΃ Ϧϣ ΔΒπΘϘϣ ϝϮϘϟ΍ Ϧϣ ΔϠϤΟ "
Ϧϣ ϪϫΎΒη΃ ϰϟ· ήϫΎψϟ΍ ϪΟϮϳ ΎϤϋϭ ΎϬψϔϟ ϲϓ ΎϬϘΤϠϳ ήϴϴϐΗ ήϴϏ Ϧϣ ˬΎϬΑ ϩΪμϗ ΢μϳ Ύϣ Ϟϛ ϰϟ· Ϫϴϓ ΕΩέϭ
."ΎϬΑΎΒγ΃ ΖϠϬΟ ϥ·ϭ ΏήπΗ ϚϟάϠϓ ˬϲϧΎόϤϟ΍
³Proverb is a set of utterance contextually adapted, self-explanatory, typically
acceptable and generally admired., it is applicable -without any slight lexical
change- to all possible senses that might be intended, beyond its contextual
meanings, and also beyond the expressed meanings to the implicated senses, it
is often being quoted, even if the contexts are unknown´

One of the prominent Arab scholars obsessed with proverbials is al-imÉm ¶abu al-faÌl al-maydÉnÊ, he was
reported to have collected approximately 5000 proverbs, in a book titled: majmaÑ al-¶amthÉl.
The original Arabic text is expressed thus: ΎϤϫΪΣ΃ ϦϴΒϴϟ ˬΔϬΑΎθϣ ΎϤϬϨϴΑ ˬήΧ΁ ˯ϲη ϲϓ ϻϮϗ ϪΒθϳ ˯ϲη ϲϓ ϝϮϗ Ϧϋ ΓέΎΒϋ ϞΜϤϟ΍ "
"ϩέϮμϳϭ ήΧϵ΍


It is also pertinent to note that proverb -as perceived by many Arab scholars4- is
synonymous or coterminous to terms like: wise sayings or wisdom, elegant speech, rhetoric.
Four types of Arabic proverbs are however identified based on the periods of its formation:
     (Old proverbs),   "   (New),     
(modern or contemporary), ¶   #
!!  (colloquial), while six are identified
based on the reasons for its construction: ¶  "  #    (proverbs
adapted from prophetic traditions), ¶    
 (metaphor), ¶    
(anecdotes), ¶    (from wise sayings), ¶  # (poetry), ¶  
    (Holy QurÑan). (u
  $    1988:34).


The Yorubas ±like Arabs- conceived of proverbs as speech hunter (or retriever), ideas
discoverer, culture reflector, and marker of wisdom and authority, they proudly explain this
notions with the popular proverbial:   

    %The Proverb
is the horse, when speech is lost, we use speech to retrieve it), this notion cross-culturally
intertertextualizes with the arabic notion ³   
  ´ (Proverbs are the
lamp of speech), these two proverbials conceptually viewed speech as ³lost object´
recoverable or discoverable only through proverb (imagined as horse or lamp). Another one
is the proverbial: ³„&   ' () *)*´) (one who knows proverbs has the last word in a
dispute), one who recourses to proverb by this notion is viewed as a sage, an authority that
persuasively dictates communicative acts, and effectively influences the flow of discourse.

Proverb, according to the Yoruba scholars, reflects the philosophy and worldviews of the
speech community (Beir & Gbadamosi, 1959), serves as a powerful signpost of people
pragmatic ethics (Oladeji, 1988), depicts the dynamic reasoning ability of people
(Ogunwale, 1998), uncovers the african philosophy of social communication (Owomoyela,
1981), cognitively assists in understanding education (Agbaja J.B, 2005) and is an
inexhaustible repository of ethical values(Yusuf, 1994).

The term ³ ´ is a Yoruba common term for proverb. It is a construct morphologically

adapted from the verbal phrase ³ ´ which literally means ³he wraps something around
something´5. The nominal µ„ ¶ often collocates with the verb µï ¶ (ï  +which means
he cites proverb or de-, re-construct it, the verb µï ¶ (with the senses: hatch, break/ smash,
narrate) also occurs in structures like: µï     !-hatch egg¶, µï   -narrates
stories¶ , µï  -concoct lies, it suggests the senses of construction and deconstruction of
something. It may be insightful to add that the Yoruba verb µï ¶ compares favourably with
the earlier mentioned arabic equivalent µ 
¶. „ ! (2005:3) states that the term
µ ¶ reveals an important Yoruba view of what happens when one likens something to
another, one brings the (lexical) items into close proximity as possible in order that their
quality be observable side by side in virtually the same place« He added that a speech from
this view likens or compares one thing or situation to another, highlighting the essential

Some of whom are scholars like: al-zamakhsharÊ, he describes proverb as ³jawÉmiµu al-kalim wa nawÉdiru
al-Íikam´ (compiler of speech and rare wisdom); Íamzah al-¶aÎbahÉnÊ and ¶abË hilÉl al-¶askarÊ, compares
proverbs with literary rarities and poetics; al -thaµÉlubÊ, emphasizes the consise nature of proverbs.
In his morphological exposé of this term, Owomoyela argues that the initial ³´ of the phrase ³ ´ is
lexicologically converted from a verb to a noun, he suggested that it is ( ) rather than (o we), on the
ground that the appended object pronoun (it) is midtoned, as much as this opinion is plausible, we feel the
term ( ) is an abbreviated form of the phrase (³   ´ - what (speech) is wrapped ), lexicalized
through the process of elision or contraction.

similarities that the two share.

In his analysis of linguistic forms of yoruba¶s proverb, Ayo Bamgbose (1968), a doyen of
Applied Linguistics in Africa, provides useful insights with regards to the metaphoric (and
metonymic) nature of proverbs:

³the bringing together of two or more lexical items in such a way as to exhibit a
semantic contrast or correspondence, the contrasted items which occur in identical
locations in parallel sentences, are sometimes antonyms and sometimes synonymy
(or items that belong in the same semantic range)´6

The above insight perfectly reflects the vital charateristics of Proverbials, that is, its
possession of contrasting and corresponding lexical elements, for instance, the semantic
incongruity of the lexical elements in the case of metaphor and the contrast of contiguity
with similarity in the case of metonymy. This insight also finds expression in the Yoruba¶s
famous saying: ³— , ,
'"-,   . ï '/. (If a proverb does not apply to a situation,
one does not use it), it purports that proverbs are determined by apt comparison.

Assumed Stereotypes in Arabic and Yoruba proverbs

From several researches and studies on proverbs by Arab and Yoruba scholar (linguists and
non linguists), quite a great deal of socio-cultural stereotypes7 are recovered from Arabic
and Yoruba proverbs. Both Arabic and Yoruba proverbs feature the multiplicity and the
diversity of their original and social background; arabic proverbs reflect theological
principles, ethnicity, family affairs, marriage relationship, royal court contests, tribal
Bedouin settings, ethical matters, social classes as manifested in royalty, wealth and
poverty, metaphorizing human situations through flora and fauna.

Yoruba proverbs -like the arab¶s- reveal the socio-cultural background of the yorubas,
their ethnicity, philosophy, religious plurality, rural or village life, the royal court and
courtiers, tribal distinctive ideas, social class, beauty, riddles and jokes, ethical and
educational instructions, cultural marriages, flora and fauna, traditional religious beliefs and
superstitions, etc.

Aspects of Socio-cultural Construction of intertextuality through Arabic and Yoruba

proverbs (Analysis)

In this section of the paper, we shall contrastively display the selected arabic and yoruba
proverbs, zoom in on the formal textualization, deconstruct them, establish its proverbiality,
uncover the shared assumed stereotypes, pragmatically highlights the intertextuality socio-
culturally constructed. This intertextual analytic activity will be done under the categories:

It is significant to state that this submission perfectly intertextualizes the 9 th century viewpoint of an arabic
philologist, Ibrahim bn sayyÉr bn al-hÉnÊ al-misrÊ, he was quoted to have said that proverbial text is
typified by brevity, preciseness, metaphoricity, and metonymicity (u
  $    1988:38).
a socio-psychological term that signifies a conventional conceptions, Alan Dundes (1994:191) reflects that
stereotypes are like any other generalizations which may be false or true, or a combination of partly false
and partly true. Sheba, Janet O. (2005:9) agrees with Alan and notes that stereotypes need not be true with
regards to the veracity of Yoruba proverbs at her disposal.

By Formal textualization we identify the distinctive linguistic structural taxonomy of each
of the proverbial texts and their propositions (the ideas and experience textualized; under
proverbiality we consider what sets the text apart from other non-proverbial such as the
metaphoricity and metonymity; under the category constructed stereotypes or universals,
we search for the socio-cultural experiences that the two natives intertextualized, the
intertextuality beyond the two socio-cultural divides; by intentionality we cross-examine
the pragmatic and communicative purposes of each proverb. It is important to state that the
bulk of the selected Yoruba proverbs displayed in this work are adapted from the
overwhelming collection of owomoyela¶s treasury titled: ³Yoruba Proverbs´.8

(1) Arabic: ((- 45 6| 7) ϥΎΒϳ˵ ΔNπ˸ϴNΒϟ΍ NϦϣ˶ ΐ
˵ Π ˵ NήNϔϟ΍
˶ Ϩ͉ ϟ΍ Υ
(The fine pullet shows its excellence from the egg).

Yoruba389 :;4<=>=??@>> :A : B C@C@

(An exemplary person shows his precociousness from childhood).

FORMAL TEXTUALIZATION (henceforth FT): the observed structural taxonomy of the

arabic proverbial text is declarative, contains elements (Subject, P-redicate, C-omplement)
contextually preferred to the usual PS(CA) structure, it proposes (textualizes) a fine pullet
appearing from an egg. The Yoruba textual structure is declarative, and maintains the usual
structure (SPCA), it textualizes a child precocious at childhood through his speech seeming
competence. PROVERBIALITY(P): the Arabic text is concise and metaphorical, its
elements (pullet, egg, showing) which are typical of the fauna (domestic fowl) compare
with the situation of the human (child) in its infancy and youthfulness, The yoruba
proverbial text is metaphorical, the element (?D?@

  ) is
metonymic, CONSTRUCTED STEREOTYPES(CS): The arabs socio-culturally construct
the stereotypes ³precocious child shows excellence earlier in life´ through the proverb,
which reflects socio-cultural significance of domestic fowl, the Yorubas proverb construct
the same stereotypes through: ³?D?@ 
 EThe two proverbs cross-
culturally intertextualize, the Yoruba proverb can be taken as an explanation of the arab¶s
and vice versa, symptomatic of a marked level of parallelism. INTENTIONALITY(I): both
texts pragmatically invite the audience to intertextualize the socio-cultural significance of
the stereotypes and arrive at the fact that ³a precocious child (asamu, pullet) displays
marked oral competence earlier in life (egg; childhood).

˵ ϴNόϟ΍ ϲ
(2) Arabic: (ö F-  GF  ) Ϧ ˶ ˸Τ NΘδNΗ NϢNϔϟ΍ Ϣ˶ ό˶ ˸σ΃
(feed the mouth and the eyes are bashful).

Yoruba:  4
4  (if the mouth is fed, the eyes become bashful)

FT: Arabic structural taxonomy: imperative, Yoruba¶s structure: declarative, both

structures textualize the meanings displayed above , P: the two texts are brief,
figurative, and metonymic, the lexical elements (the nominals; - 
4 , the verbalö F4 ,H   , )are of the figurative
tagged synecdoche, they are metonymically representative of a human being that eats,
and becomes shy as a result. CS: socio-culturally the two natives construct the
Owomoyela thrilled majority of Yoruba scholars both linguists and literati, he is credited for his historic and
overwhelming compilation of more than 5000 Yoruba proverbs.

stereotypes of human psychological behavior (the feeling of being bashful towards an
extended (albeit intended) generosity) through the proverbs, the proverbs cross-
culturally intertextualize each other, the stereotypes are shared, the intertextual
substance (lexical items) exhibits marked degree of parallelism. I: the speaker of two
natives invites the interlocutee to re-construct the stereotypes, they often pragmatically
express it to appeal to the psyche of their audience, that the stereotype is true, the
interlocutee might be encouraged to apply the proposition or be wary of the
opportunistic intent of the proposition.

(3) Arabic: (IJF7ö77 KF) ϊNϘNΗ ΎϬϟ˶ ΎN ˸η΃ ϰNϠNϋ έ˵ Ϯϴ ϟ΍
( Birds of a feather flock together)

Yoruba: # >=BBBBA1
L=>K% birds fly in a flock of their own kind)
1)2" 2" 3 (), (Fish swim in a school of their own kind)

FT: Arabic and Yoruba structural taxonomy: declarative, they textualize the propositions
displayed above. P: the texts are relatively concise and metaphoric, the lexical forms (the
nominals: IJBB verbals: KFA1
L= -
,, are the targets of comparison,
the situation of birds flocking together are compared against the humans and their social
groupings. CS: the two natives construct the sociological stereotypes (people of same
tastes move together) through the proverbs, a cross-cultural intertextuality is vividly
observed, the stereotypes are shared, the intertextual substance (lexical items) display
noticeable degree of parallelism. I: interlocutee(s) is requested to re-construct the shared
stereotypes, the speaker pragmatically use the proverbs to encourage the audience to
socially align themselves with the people of their tastes.

4. Arabic: (7G M-) ή˶ ˸ϔ χ

˶ Ϟ˵ ˸Μϣ˶ (
˶)ϚN ΎNϣ
(nothings scratches (your body) better than your finger)

Yoruba: (

(no one knows how best to scratch a body other
than its owner)

FT: arabic structural taxonomy: expressive, Yoruba structure: declarative, both structures
textualize the propositions stated above. P: the texts, like the earlier texts, are terse and
representational; the composite lexical items (the arabic elided nominal µ4¶-µyour
body¶, expressed byYoruba nominal µ¶;   the verbal: G
   ,, are
employed to compare the µappropriacy and effectiveness of solving personal µinternal¶
problem by oneself¶ to the effectiveness of scratching one¶s body by one¶s finger. CS: the
two natives constructed the stereotype µstrict personal problem should be solve by
oneself¶ through the proverbs, same intertextuality is constructed, the stereotypes are
shared, the intertextual substance (lexical items) manifests considerable level of parallelism.
I: interlocutee is expected to re-construct the stereotypes and concede to its veracity, the
speaker might pragmatically use the proverbs to encourage the audience to face their
problems themselves.

(5) Arabic: (  4ö7I7 K  ) ϞΘ˶ ϗ˵ ϥΎN ˸Ϡδϟ΍ ϰNϠNϋ N΃NήNΠNΘ˸γ΍ Ϧ
˶ Nϣ
(one who dares the king faces death)

Yoruba: (
  (one that dares the king faces death)
— .4 
' 1)1)    -

When a courtier seeks disgrace, he asks, ³What can the king do?´

FT: the structural taxonomy of both texts: declarative, the proverbs textualize the
proposition expressed by the lexical elements. P: both texts are concise, characteristic of
proverbial texts, the composite lexical items less metaphorical. CS: the natives construct the
socio-cultural stereotypes (kings (authorities) must not be dared) through the proverbs,
same intertextuality is constructed by the two natives, stereotypes are cross-culturally
shared, the intertextual substance (lexical items) exhibits appreciable level of parallelism . I:
intertocutee is expected to react by conceptually re-constructing the stereotypes, and agree
to the socio-cultural implicatures, the speaker might pragmatically employ these proverbs
to warn, advise, and instruct the audience.

(6) Arabic: ( 17  ) Δϴ͉ ϧ˶ Ϊ͉ ϟ΍ NϻNϭ Δ˵ ϴ͉ Ϩ˶ NϤϟ΍
(death and never a disgrace).

Yoruba: 04 (death is preferred to disgrace)

FT: Arabic text expressive, permissive of an assumed elited lexical element: (  
ï +7 % +7, while the Yoruba text is declarative, the proverbs textualize the
proposition expressed above. P: both texts are brief and representational, the composite
lexical elements ( death    -disgrace) are structurally
antithesized. CS: the two natives construct the stereotypes (it is better to die than being
disgraced) through the proverbs, same intertextuality is constructed, stereotypes are cross-
culturally shared (both natives are portrayed as brave and ), the intertextual substances
(lexical items) demonstrate high level of parallelism. I: interlocutee is provoked to
intertextualizes shared experience and agree to the truth of the proposition, speaker of these
texts might pragmatically employ it to spur the audience to reject a demeaning act. 

(7) Arabic: ( G5I7 7!7 ) ϥ΍N  ϥ

˶ Ύ N ϴΤ
˶ ˸Ϡϟ˶
(Walls have ears)

Yoruba: N  (wall has ears)

FT: structurally both texts are declarative; both textualize the above translated proposition
or idea. P: both texts are very terse, pregnant, and figurative; the predication (attribution) of
ears (7!7  ,to the walls (G5I7 
, is significant in the structures, the situation of
somebody who is not actively engaged in a conversation, and who may be eavesdropping,
might be compared to that of inanimate wall having ears. CS: the two natives construct the
stereotypes ³be wary when you talk (secretly) even behind closed doors´ through the
proverbs, same intertextuality is constructed, stereotypes are cross-culturally shared, the
intertextual substance (lexical items) display high level of parallelism. I: the interlocutee is
invited to cognitively intertextualize the propositions and arrive at the same conclusion,
citers of these texts pragmatically use it to caution the audience in their strict personal

(8) Arabic: (- KI11KF G 5!7) Ώ ˶ ΍ΰϴϤ˶ ϟ΍ NΖΤNΗ NϊNϗNϭNϭ ή˶ ˸ NϘϟ΍ NϦϣ˶ ή͉ Nϓ
(he ran from drops(of rain), fell under the gutter)
( έΎϨ͉ ϟΎ Α˶ ˯ΎNπϣή͉ ϟ΍ Ϧϣ˶ ή˶ ϴΠ˶ NΘ˸δϤ˵ Nϛ)
Yoruba: NC-@ @

O=?.(he ran from death and sought refuge in a


FT: both texts is structurally declarative, both textualize the juxtaposed proposition, P: both
texts are concise and representational typical of proverbial text, Yoruba text however
appears to be more figurative, the fact that human is described as µseeking refuge in a
scabbard¶ expressed by the clause µ

L= :?
O= ?¶ (lit: falls into the scabbard-  ) is
expressive of the linguistic unconventionality, one wonders if any human could coexist with
sword in the scabbard unscathed. CS: the two natives construct the stereotypes of the
situation of a µa person who has got him/herself in a worse predicament than the
previous one¶ through the proverbs, same intertextual process is provoked, experience and
philosophy are socio-culturally shared, the intertextual substance (lexical items) display
high level of parallelism. I: interlocutee is invited to re-construct the stereotypes embedded
in the proverb, agree to its veracity. Native interlocutors might pragmatically use these
proverbs to express the unfortunate circumstances one may find himself when one chooses
wrong alternatives.

9. Arabic: (öF-7 ) ΎϬϧ˶ ΎNγ˸ήϔ˵ Α˶ Ϣ˵ NϠ˸ϋ΃ Ϟ

˵ ˸ϴNΨϟ΍
( the horse knows its knight best)


.(the horse knows its knight)

FT: both texts are structurally declarative, they textualize the propositions clearly translated
above, P: both texts are short and depictive, the situation of µhorse- # ¶
knowing its µ knight ±-7 

as a result of long familiarity and extraordinary care
of the knight¶ is comparable to that of similar human relationship that involves one
(inferior) identifying with a superior that often care for him/her. CS: the natives construct
the stereotype µlong relationship (between superior and inferior) brings about mutual
identification¶ through the proverbs, same intertextual process is spurred, experience and
ideas are socio-culturally shared, the texts show high level of parallelism. I: interlocutee is
expected to reconstruct the stereotypes through the proverbs, agree to its cultural
authenticity. Native speakers pragmatically employ these proverbs to express an assumed
universal truth, or provide reasons for an observed extraordinary relationship.

10. Arabic (al-Íubbu ¶aÑmÉ ) ϰNϤ˸ϋ΃ ΐΤ

˵ ϟ΍
(love is Blind)

Yoruba: 0--
4 (Love is blind)

FT: structurally both texts are declarative, textualize the proposition expressed above. P:
both texts are concise, metaphoric and representational, distinctive of proverbial texts, the
predication of the adjectival µblind¶ (öF7-
4) to the subject µlove¶ (G0-), is
very significant, discernible also is that the abstract term µlove¶ is figuratively personified,
described in terms of human attribute µblindness¶. CS: the natives construct the stereotype
µpeople connive at the shortcomings of beloved ones ¶ through the proverbs, same
intertextual process is provoked, experience and philosophy socio-culturally shared, the
two intertextual substances (lexical items) display marked parallelism. I: the audience is
expected to reconstruct the stereotype, consent to its veracity, native speakers might
pragmatically employ this texts to express the assumed universal truth or appeal to the
conscience of the audience in order that he/she be thoughtful and reflective in a particular
romantic engagement.

˵ ΄NΗ Ρ
mÉlun tajlÊhi al-riyÉhu ta¶khudhhu al-) ϊΑ˶ ΍ϭ ΰ͉ ϟ΍ ϩ˵ ά˵ Χ ˵ Ύϳή͋ ϟ΍ Ϫ˶ ϴϠ˶ ˸ΠNΗ ϝΎNϣ
11.Arabic: (zawÉbiÑ
(property acquired through wind will be dispersed by the storm)

Yoruba: 0 -

(house built of saliva will be destroyed by

FT: structurally both texts are declarative, textualizing the propositions translated above. P:
both texts are relatively terse and conceptually depictive, the arabic text contains lexical
items (71  !17F; mÉlun-property) which are of natural phenomena,
personified in the structure, wind and storm are co-hyponyms, the latter is stronger in
effect; Yoruba text however comprises lexical items (
)in which
saliva and dew are forms of liquid, dew is more intense. CS: the two natives construct the
stereotypes µthings acquired through incongruous or inapposite means vanish through
the same or similar means¶ through the proverbs, same conceptual intertextual process is
induced, experience and philosophy are shared albeit the intertextual substance (lexical
terms) reflect the distinctive socio-cultural links, semantic parallelism is vividly discernible.
I: the interlocutee intertextualizes the constructed stereotype, ascents to its veracity, the
speaker might pragmatically use the proverb to express the universal truth contained in the
proverbs or attempt at dissuading the audience from acquiring properties through improper

12. Arabic: (KKIF15 7) Ώ ˵ ΎϨ͉ ϟ΍ NΔϳ͉ ϭ˶ ά͉ ϟ΍ ϊ˵ N ˸ϘNϳ ˸ΪNϗ

(Old camel might cross the desert)

Yoruba: P:>= ;<= >=

O=B;1?C:<=. (palm-wine tapster will eventually
descend from atop the palm-tree)
P:>= ;<=>=;QQC.(stammerer will eventually manage to say

FT: the texts are structurally declarative, they textualize the proposition translated above. P:
the texts are short and conceptually mimetic, typical of the proverbials, the situation of µ
7-Old Camel¶ crossing the seeming uncoverable µ15-desert¶ regarding its
slow pace, in case of arabic, and the situation of µ
-tapster¶ who eventually descend
(1?C:<=) considering the long period of his stay on the palm tree (
)¶ metaphorizes the
situation of µone faced with daunting time-consuming task which might be accomplished in
the long run¶. CS: the two natives construct the stereotype µdifficult task is accomplished
with persevearance¶ through the proverbs, same conceptual intertextual process is incited,
experience and philosophy are shared, the intertextual substance (lexical items) reveal the
socio-cultural distinction: arab-camel-desert and Yoruba-tapster-palm tree, semantic
parallelism is observed. I: interlocutee is invited to construct the shared stereotypes and
arrive at virtually same conclusion, the speaker might pragmatically use these proverbs to
express the share philosophy of patience and perseverance, or exhort the audience to imbibe
the quality of patience.
7 ö -54G 17G  ) ϦϴNΗή͉ Nϣ (Ϊ΍ϭ ήΤΟ ϲϓ ) Ϧ ˵ NΪ˸Ϡϳ˵ Nϻ
˵ ϣ˶ ΆϤ˵ ϟ΍ ύ
13:Arabic: ( 
(the believer is not stung twice in the same hole).

Yoruba: R=<= 4QAC  (One gets bitten by a snake only once).

'(... "&1)()"..( fire of the stinging tragia plant does not burn a
person twice.

FT: the texts are declarative, the two textualize the proposition expressed above. P: the texts
are concise and depictive, the negated but suggestive proposition that a  -believer is
not stung twice (7 S  ), and the Yoruba assertive statement ³R=<= 4Q
AC  one gets bitten by a snake only once, are representational, the lexical item µ4
snake¶ is expressive in the Yoruba text and implicit in the arabic text making it more
suggestive of other stinging creatures. CS: the natives construct the stereotype µone is not
likely to fall into same trap twice¶ through the proverbs, same conceptual intertextual
process is triggered, socio-cultural experience and philosophy are shared, the intertextual
substance display high level of parallelism. I: the audience is invited to re-construct the
intertextuality and arrive at the expected conclusion, the citer of these proverbs might
pragmatically use it to express the philosophical truth embedded in the proverb or share his
personal experience with the audience, or make mild appeal so that sad experience is not

14. Arabic: ( öö7-7M) ϢNϠNχ ΎNϤNϓ ϩΎNΑN΃ NϪNΒ˸ηN΃ ˸ϦNϣ

(he that resembled his father transgressed not)

Yoruba: #   4

(one resembles ones father)

FT: the texts are structurally declarative, bear the propositions expressed through it. P: the
texts are terse and depictive, the composite lexical items µ  -ö7-his father¶ , a
njo-ö-resembles¶ are representational, the arabic phrase (-7 M ±did not
transgressed) is significantly distinctive and semantically suggestive. CS: the natives
construct the stereotype µlegitimate child shares his/her parents quality¶ through the
proverbs, same conceptual intertextual process is generated, socio-cultural experience and
philosophy are shared, the intertextual substance display high level of parallelism. I:
receivers of text is invited to re-construct the intertextuality and perhaps agree to its
philosophical veracity, the speaker might pragmatically use the texts to articulate the shared
stereotypes contained in the text, or extol the observed genealogical traits in the receiver, or
encourage the receiver to live up to the expectation (comparable to that of his ancestors).

15. Arabic: (K7  K1  ) Δ˳ NΑϮNϗ Ϧϣ˶ ΐ

˳ ΋˶ Ύϗ Ϟϛ˵
(all cocks originate from egg).

Yoruba: # 
(egg turns a cock)

FT: the texts like others are declarative, it textualize the propositions expressed above,
Arabic structure is a converse of Yoruba structure and vice versa, P: the texts are brief and
succinct characteristic of proverbials, the composite lexical items µK7ö 

K1    öare essentially metaphoric, the situation of cock emanating from egg is
comparable to the situation of human originating from human fetus in the womb. CS: the
natives construct the stereotype µconsiderably older people grow from the younger ones¶
through the proverbs, same cognitive intertextual process is activated, experience and
philosophy are shared, the intertextual substance display appreciable level of parallelism. I:
the audience is invited to re- or de-construct the intertextuality, and accede to its
philosophical accuracy, the interlocutor might pragmatically use the texts to convey the
shared stereotypes or make a passionate plea to the younger audience that in no time they

will assume some responsibility, or try to dispel an unwarranted pressure put on the younger
ones by the elderly.


In the paper we have been able to discuss intertextuality as an aspect of cognitive linguistics
through which social interaction is considered as linguistic process. The fact that
Intertextuality is construed as what is socio-culturally constructed is carefully portrayed
through proverbial texts. The paper explains the theoretical constructs of intertextuality as
Social Interactions, considers the relationship between intertextuality and proverbiality by
citing relevant submissions of different scholars, gathers information on the concepts of
proverbs on the part of the Arabs and the Yorubas, relates some assumed stereotypes
embedded in the proverbs.

The paper practically analyses some aspects of socio-cultural construction of

intertextuality via a conscious display of the selected arabic and yoruba proverbs, it zooms
in on the formal textualization, deconstructs them, establishes its proverbiality, uncovers the
shared assumed stereotypes, pragmatically highlights the intertextuality socio-culturally
constructed under the analytic categories: Formal Textualization, Proverbiality, Constructed
Stereotypes, Intentionality.


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