Archive for April 28th, 2015

April 28, 2015

Anti-proverb

fruit fly by Emily Grandin

An anti-proverb or a ‘perverb’ is the transformation of a standard proverb for humorous effect. Paremiologist (proverb scholar) Wolfgang Mieder defines them as ‘parodied, twisted, or fractured proverbs that reveal humorous or satirical speech play with traditional proverbial wisdom.’ They have also been defined as ‘an allusive distortion, parody, misapplication, or unexpected contextualization of a recognized proverb, usually for comic or satiric.’

To have full effect, an anti-proverb must be based on a known proverb. For example, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, quit’ is only funny if the hearer knows the standard proverb ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ Anti-proverbs are used commonly in advertising, such as ‘Put your burger where your mouth is’ from Red Robin. Anti-proverbs are also common on T-shirts, such as ‘Taste makes waist’ and ‘If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.’

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