Understanding Proverbs: A Pithy, Powerful Presentation A Word to the Wise
What is a Proverb? A short saying that uses imagery to provide a generally accepted truth or wisdom; Contains advice and provides a way of looking at the world.
A STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH TO HELP YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT A PROVERB MEANS: 1. WHAT IS THE LITERAL MEANING? 2. THINK OF A SITUATION IN WHICH THIS PROVERB APPLIES TO YOU. 3. WHAT IS THE FIGURATIVE MEANING? 4.WHAT SPECIFIC WORDS CAN BE CHANGED TO CREATE BROADER MEANING?
Step #1: What is the LITERAL meaning of this proverb? “The early bird gets the worm.”
Step #2: Think of a situation in which the message of this proverb applied to you. “The early bird gets the worm.”
Compare Your Answer to Ours... Ms. Connor:“One of my 6th grade teachers used to give extra credit points if you handed in your project early.” Mr. Rabinowitz: “If I get my hands on the tv remote first, we all (my family members) have to watch MY choice of show.” Mrs. Bierer: “Being first in line for the Talbot’s sale, I was able to have a great choice of jackets in my size.” Mrs Lochner: “If I leave earlier in the morning, I avoid a lot of traffic. It takes me less time to get to school that way.”
Step #3: What is the FIGURATIVE meaning of the proverb? “The early bird gets the worm.” *In this step, you are using your earlier brainstorm to move from “literal” to what we call “figurative”...
Step #4: WHAT SPECIFIC WORDS CAN BE CHANGED TO CREATE BROADER MEANING? “The early bird gets the worm.”
HINT: If rewording the proverb is a challenge, start by looking for specific words and images that might actually represent bigger ideas. “The early bird gets the worm.” Is this really a proverb about birds and worms?
HINT: Next, rewrite the proverb by inserting different words and phrases... “The early _______gets the ______.”
Extra Challenge: REWRITE THE PROVERB WITHOUT USING ANY OF THE SAME WORDS. “The early bird gets the worm.” Your rewrite: _______________________________
STEPS TO HELP YOU FIGURE OUT PROVERB MEANING: 1. WHAT IS THE LITERAL MEANING? 2. THINK OF A SITUATION IN WHICH THIS PROVERB APPLIES TO YOU. 3. WHAT IS THE FIGURATIVE MEANING? 4.WHAT SPECIFIC WORDS CAN BE CHANGED TO CREATE BROADER MEANING? NEXT: 5. FIND EXAMPLES IN THE TEXT THAT SHOW HOW THIS PROVERB FITS THE STORY.
“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves” ~Euripedes (Ancient Greek Playwright) Literal meaning: Figurative meaning:
OTHER EXAMPLES OF PROVERBS American proverbs • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket • A friend in need, is a friend indeed • The early bird catches the worm • When the cats away the mice will play • Birds of a feather flock together • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.