JoLIE 14:2/2021


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Teodora Popescu

1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia






Proverbs, as ‘the wit of one and the wisdom of many’, are timeless, still keeping the interest of linguists, anthropologists, paremiologists and educationalists awake. Proverbs epitomise life experiences and common judgment and are typically used to call attention to lessons learnt by humanity at large, to give advice, to celebrate virtues, behaviours, or to promote desirable attitudes. The aim of this paper is to analyse the manner in which work has been conceptualised in proverbs in four languages: Romanian, French, Russian and English. The methods used were analysis of specialist literature, cataloguing of proverb collections in the four languages (monolingual, bi- or multilingual), selection of a representative corpus of 122 work-related proverbs, corpus analysis using lexical-semantical and ethno-cultural analysis, as well as conceptual metaphor identification. The main instruments used were dictionaries of proverbs, both in print and online format (mono-, bi-, and multilingual). Following the identification, interpretation and categorisation of proverbs in the corpus, they were clustered around nine main concepts, which were further on analysed from the perspective of similarities and differences.

The relationship between language and culture is undoubtedly indissoluble, however, it is extremely revealing to see how economic, social and political advancements have changed or enhanced the conceptualisations of various human activities, in this specific case, those related to work.

Results revealed a prominent tendency of Romanian and Russian proverbs towards metaphorical imagery. In the case of the concept of laziness is evil, in Romanian it appears that sloth is much more consistently censored, in an ironic and sarcastic vein when compared to English, whereas in English a more neutral and impersonal tone was encountered.


Keywords: Conceptualisations of work; Proverbs, Cultural constructs, Conceptual metaphors.





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How to cite this article: Popescu, T. (2021). Conceptualisations of work in Romanian, French, Russian and English proverbs. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 14(2), 107-126. doi:



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