Accepted paper:

SMS-messages in a newspaper: a context for contemporary proverbs


Liisa Granbom-Herranen (University of Turku)

Paper short abstract:

Finnish proverbs originate from agrarian context but live in contemporary use in a new context. The focus is on the everyday use of proverbs in SMS-messages sent as short letters to be published in a Finnish daily newspaper. The aim is to discuss some of the challenges in research of proverbs.

Paper long abstract:

Collecting any kind of cultural units means participating in an ongoing discourse in the culture in which they are used, as well as a broader context. It also relates to three dimensions of time: past, present and future. In the same way as the past is a combination of social, economic, geographical and other cultural factors, the present is a unique creation of those tracks of the past. The challenge in the collection and registration of contemporary used proverbs has been in finding them. As the material I look at Finnish proverbs in everyday use. They are included in SMS-messages sent as short letters or opinions to be published in a daily newspaper. One can speak of the paradox of proverbs. Many definitions of proverb say that it is an "old expression". It is a challenge to define a new or future proverb, or to recognize potential proverbs before they actually are proverbs. The difficulty is that when collecting contemporary proverbial expressions, we cannot know which ones will last. It also means that there ought to exist a clear and handy understanding of proverbs, including old and traditional ones, contemporary and modern ones, and future ones. The paradox is that old proverbs are recognizable, but contemporary or future ones are not. One can easily come to the conclusion that there are no new proverbs, as no one can tell which expressions will become established in that way.

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Short folklore forms in contemporary use