Date: Wed, 13 Dec 1995 21:43:57 -0500
From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Proverbial Knowledge
The universality of proverbs is pretty well-known among folklorists (e.g.,
Mieder), and even some linguists have had a look at the universality of
idioms (although the 'big' works on this point leave me at the moment).
I have your proverb in the 'changed' (or 'variant') form. I guess I thought
it was the original. I always folk-ethymologized it be a sort of gambling
What is it really (since you seem to have a handle on the original form)?
Dennis (always had it wrong but still a native speaker) Preston
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu
Part of communicative competence includes a knowledge of proverbs. Thus,
many English speakers have heard the following proverb: "You pays your money
and you takes your choice." This is listed in the Oxford Dictionary of
Quotations, 3rd ed., 1979:9. Today I heard a variant of this from a native
in which the word "chances" occurred for "choice." How many have heard this
version? Are there any other permutations with this proverb? Does anyone
have other examples of proverbs with variations in English or in any other
My theory is this. Proverbs are universal, and native speakers change them
according to well-defined rules ("chances" is monosyllabic and begins with
a voiceless affricate, etc.).
I will post a summary of examples sent to me or the network + reasons/
explications of the phenomenon.
Does anyone know of any research on this?
Calif. State Univ., Fullerton --- akaye[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]fullerton.edu