Pragmatic functions of Hakka proverbs: Humor, praise and food

Tsung Shueng Huang, Shelley Ching yu Depner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter investigates Hakka plant proverbs that serve humorous, ironic, praising and encouraging pragmatic functions. Data are mainly extracted from Hakka proverb books and proverb-related theses. Conceptual Blending Theory (Fauconnier and Turner in The way we think: conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. Basic Books, New York, (2002) and qualia structure (Pustejovsky in the Generative Lexicon. MIT Press, Cambridge, (1995) comprise the theoretical backgrounds to analyze the data. Results show that: (1) The function of humor is applied most widely in Hakka plant proverbs, followed by irony, encouragement and praise; (2) in humorous and ironic proverbs, negative prototypical features are preferred for metaphorical descriptions associated with human traits; (3) in praising and encouraging proverbs, plant vehicles present limited variants concerning qualia structure while their prototypical features are mainly linked to agriculture. Proverbs are precious cultural artifacts, and we are highly motivated to preserve and promote the teaching of Hakka.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmbodiment in Language (II)
Subtitle of host publicationFood, Emotion and Beyond
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789811017995
ISBN (Print)9789811017971
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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