e-revija / e-magazine             ISSN 1581-145X

Proverb’s Wisdom - project description

Devoted to Permyakovs memory


In Moskow region in Zhukovski lived a wonderful man. He was known as Permyakov (it was his pseudonym, his real name was German) Grigory Lvovich (1919 – 1983). He was a soldier during the Great Patriotic War. He knew German well. He had an opportunity to speak to enemy’s soldiers with the help of a loud-hailer. Permyakov was wounded during the war and became an invalid. His life was not long. It was one side of his life, but there was also another. He was a pensioner without any scientific reputation. Only due to his will and power, mind and hard work he became a well-known scientist of the world. Permyakov is a paremiologist. He researches different clichés – proverbs, sayings, mysteries, tokens. The culture of each nation is full of clichés. Every cultured man must know them.

Once Permyakov made an experiment: 300 moscovites were tested. None of them could say immediately how many clichés they knew when they were asked about (they usually answered: 20 – 30). But the test showed that there was not a person who had known less than one thousand folk sayings. Besides 800 clichés were known almost to all of them, and nearly 400 were familiar to everyone.

It has been mentioned for a long time that different people have similar proverbs. Let’s compare. Two bears don’t live in one den (Russian proverb). Two “mambas” (snakes) don’t sleep in one hole (African proverb). Two nightingales don’t seat on one branch (Turkish proverb). Two clever women don’t seat rice in one field (Republic Bank of Ivory).

Permyakov proved that proverbs – are not only popular folk texts, but also special language symbols widely used in speech. These symbols are necessary for speech. These symbols give special information, mean typical situations in mind and life, relations between different objects  (words are signs of different things or conceptions, a simple information). Permyakov proved that clichés in the whole world are similar, have the same logic contents. Proverbs of various people differ in details, in images which help to explain the logic contents of the proverbs. Images reflect the real life of different peoples (There are bears in Russia but there are no «mambas», «mambas» live in Africa ).

Permyakov found and described typical situations. Besides, he, and that,s very important, made it a system. It is necessary to mention that national proverbs` fond of all peoples is not a chaotic row of more or less interesting expressions. It is a well disposed and a rather difficult logical system. The scientist showed it in the book “Proverbs and sayings in the East” (Moscow: Science, 1979). You can find texts of more than two hundred people in it. . In 2001 the book was republished (Moscow: “Labirint-M.P.”).

Books by G.L. Permyakov are translated into different languages. His followers put the proverbs of various people (from Europe , India , Somali, etc.) in the same way as Permyakov did. The offering project is based on Permyakov’s scientific achievements.

The main idea of this project is that the teams of different countries exchange complements of material which contain established form of proverb and additions to it.


Addition means:

n      A detail description of typical situation, which the cliche models and signs. For example, here is a Russian proverb: Ожегшись на горячем молоке, дует на холодную воду (Anyone, who has burnt his lips by hot milk, will surely blow on cold water). And the description is the following: after some bitter or painful experience one is supposed to become careful and keep away from the cause of one’s troubles or sufferings. Besides there is a proverb–synonym in Russian language: Пуганая ворона куста боится (A frightened craw is afraid of any bush).

n      Sometimes it is necessary to comment their historic and ethnographic origin, etc.

n      Children can also make up stories from their lives or other ones on the themes of the proverbs.

n      Besides they may draw pictures of their own to illustrate proverbs.

Secondary school № 11 from Zhukovsky ( Moscow region, Russia ) is the initiator of this exchange. G. L. Permyakov lived and died in Zhukovsky and the town is mentioned in the prefaces of all his books. The material of Zhukovsky’s team is published on this site.

Russian participants can add the compliment of materials offered by school № 11 (different stories, pictures, drawings, etc.).

The task of foreign partners (also those for whom Russian is not their native language, there are a lot of nations in Russia ) is to find an equivalent in their own culture. (Compare the Russian proverbs about horror with the English ones: A burnt child dreads the fire, Once bitten, twice shy). They also have to create the same additional material, translate it into English, send it to Russian partners both in English and their own languages.

Don’t be worry if you haven’t found the equivalent. You may send proverb you like most of all and additions to it.

Every day children’s life as well as literature (books and other publications) can be the source of proverbs sent.

Work at proverbs is useful for children from different points. First of all children know little and hardly understand proverbs for a long time (sick associative imagination). This form of activity helps to develop associative as well as logic thinking. The work at proverbs will enrich the knowledge about culture of other people (including their own) and will be a new step for learning foreign languages. Besides, this mutual work will be the reason to learn much about each other through stories applied to proverbs. It is significant that there is an element of a play in such kind of work.

The winners of the project may be: the real its participants, the pupils who will be interested in the results, relatives who will take an active part in finding necessary equivalents, teachers, who will get new methodic literature. Besides this experience will be understood as a model one, it can be repeated in different variations of nations because there are proverbs everywhere.

The basic programme of each school contains hours for dealing with proverbs. Proverbs are learnt at the lessons of humanitary circle in every school in Russia . Besides, the project as well as the programme of disciplines will reflect mutual aims to  bring up young people.

As a result of our mutual work we would like to see the creation of English-Russian dictionary-encyclopedia with the help of which it would be possible to learn about different spheres of life of each nation. At the same time it would be useful and unusual methodical literature. They will never be out-of-date, because of their large human value. They will be the reflection of pupils fate, predilection, possibilities, as well as the epoch. Their value will only rise in this aspect. We hope that the project activities will give the opportunities for pupils to learn much about languages and life, to have new valuable information in different spheres of life.



© Viljenka Šavli