Dictionary of European Proverbs

Dictionary of European Proverbs

Dictionary of European Proverbs

Dictionary of European Proverbs

Synopsis

This Dictionary contains over 50,000 proverbs, in some 70 European languages and dialects, arranged in 2,500 sets. It is the fruits of over 40 years of collection and research, the only collection of proverbs on anything like this scale ever to be published anywhere in the world. Emanuel Strauss has trawled through innumerable collections of proverbs in all languages, from early printed books and rare items to the latest theses and journals, and grouped together many thousands of proverbs in sets of equivalent meaning. Comprehensive indexes for each language provide access to any proverb by way of its key words. A critical bibliography musters some 500 items, from incunabula to the current decade.

Excerpt

These three volumes represent the result of a lifetime's labour by an unusually dedicated man. Emanuel Strauss first became interested in the study of languages as a young man in his native Poland where he studied at the Jagellonian University of Kraków and became fluent in a number of European languages. Subsequently, he studied in the Ukraine at the Lvov University of Ivan Franko under the great Polish linguist Jerzy Kuryłowicz and discovered the fascination of proverbs, a fascination which never left him in the course of the ensuing years.

Starting from the four magisterial volumes of Poslovitsy I pogovorki russkovo naroda collected by Vladimir Dal (St Petersburg, 1862), he began to note equivalents in as many languages as he could, drawing at first on his own knowledge of a vast number of languages, and then on literally thousands of published volumes, tracking down obsolete forms and dialectal variants.

He met his wife after the Second World War, while lecturing Russian and English at the Academy of Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia. He came to England early in 1948. Thereafter, for over forty years, he pursued the development of his collection with single-minded determination, in parallel with a successful working life as a chief executive in an electronics company. During the course of this career he lived in various countries, including Belgium, Italy and Czechoslovakia, on each occasion rapidly becoming familiar with the local language and using the opportunity to enrich his growing collection of proverbs. Throughout his forty years' travelling, Emanuel Strauss tracked down many rare volumes on his chosen field of interest; today his personal library consists of some 5,000 books, manuscripts, dictionaries and studies relating to proverbs.

Everywhere he went he spent time visiting local academic libraries and continually added to his own burgeoning collection of paremiological literature, accumulating both primary and secondary sources and sparing no effort to track down rare and out-of-print volumes. Many, many leisure hours were devoted to working systematically through these to build up the collection, until it numbered well over 100,000 items. As a subsidiary project he has also been carrying out a thematic analysis of some 50,000 English proverbs, which traces proverbs back historically to origin and source. This work is now nearing completion.