Péter Barta writes regularly about the topic of proverbs. His monograph entitled ’A közmondásferdítések ma’ [Anti-Proverbs Today], also co-authored, was published in 2018.
His present book is the first comparative monograph of English, German, French, Russian, and Hungarian anti-proverbs in English. The introductory chapter gives an overview of previous international scholarly literature on proverbs and anti-proverbs. It discusses the common occurrence of novel proverbs and demonstrates which standard proverbs are the most suitable for twisting. The following chapters are divided into two major parts. The first discusses the formal criteria of the changes used in anti-proverbs (in terms of structure, morphology, and phonology) and highlights the general features of the transformation. The second part explores the functional features of anti-proverbs (verbal humour, stylistics, and rhetoric) and classifies the types of humorous effects.
According to the authors, proverbs are not fixed and frozen text at all, but adapt to changing times and values. Anti-proverbs can be regarded as alternative versions of standard proverbs, but they may as well turn into new proverbs that reflect a more modern view of the world. The genre of anti-proverbs is getting more and more popular, especially due to the mass media and the Internet.
Péter Barta is Head of the Institute of Language Mediation at Eötvös Loránd University. His main research areas include paremiology, humour, syntax, and morphology.