By Sw. Anand Prahlad
A groundbreaking examine of proverbs in African-American speech from slave instances to the current
Read or Download African-American Proverbs in Context (Publications of the American Folklore Society. New Series (Unnumbered).) PDF
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Additional resources for African-American Proverbs in Context (Publications of the American Folklore Society. New Series (Unnumbered).)
Although there are no indications in this article of the methodology used for collecting, it is mentioned in another essay (Daniel, Smitherman-Donaldson, and Jeremiah 1987: 495) that the proverbs here were obtained through written questionnaires, followed in a few cases by interviews. The problems with Daniel's approach are those that apply to this type of study in general and that I have noted above. Proverb texts are viewed here not only as survivals, but also as mirrors of culture, two perspectives that have long since been replaced by more complex models in folkloristic theory.
Although I have relied upon much of the data collected for my dissertation, I have added the results of further fieldwork and research and have completely shifted the theoretical framework through which the information is examined. The chapter on blues, for example, represents new territory, as does my theory of levels of meaning. In many regards, I am doing what numerous African-American proverb masters with whom I have been acquainted have done: probing deeper into the dimensions of proverb meanings, attempting a clear articulation of those meanings, and celebrating the magical times when historical, cultural and personal forces intersect with the present moment.
As previously mentioned, four essays on African-American proverbial speech are related to the ethnographic or contextual model: "Towards an Ethnography of Afroamerican Proverbial Usage" (Daniel 1973), "Old Time Negro Proverbs" (Brewer 1933), "Getting the Butter From the Duck" (Folly 1982), and "The Poetry of African-American Proverb Usage: A Speech Act Analysis" (Folly 1991). Daniel's article demonstrates that the focus of an ethnographic approach can be vastly different from the tenets of a performance-oriented perspective.