Structural Analysis of the Dogri Proverbs

amitabh-vikramAmitabh Vikram Dwivedi is assistant professor of linguistics at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, India. His research interests include language documentation, writing descriptive grammars, and the preservation of rare and endangered languages in South Asia. His most recent books are A Grammar of Hadoti (Lincom: Munich, 2012), A Grammar of Bhadarwahi (Lincom: Munich, 2013), and a poetry collection titled Chinaar kaa Sukhaa Pattaa (2015) in Hindi. As a poet, he has published more than 100 poems in different anthologies, journals and magazines worldwide.

Below is 3 of 6 in a series of monthly installments of Poetry in Translation from lesser known Indo-Aryan languages—namely, Hadoti, Bhadarwahi, and Dogri for Visitant.


Dogri, a Western Pahari, Indo-Aryan language, is spoken in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, India. This article comprises the structural analysis of the Dogri Proverbs. The proverbs have been analyzed using the following structural patterns: 1) if X then Y; 2) better X than Y; 3) either X or Y or neither X nor Y; 4) X happens but Y does not happen and vice versa; 5) and X positive and Y negative. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) has been used, considering the worldwide readership.

(IPA): International Phonetic Alphabet
(W2W): Word-to-Word Translation
(LT): Literal Translation
(EE): English Equivalent


Structure 1: If X then Y


(IPA):   həθ      na        a:ji      θu     koɖi
(W2W): Hand  not   come   spit   bitter
(LT): If something doesn’t come in hand, spit at it.
(EE): Sour grapes
The expression “sour grapes” originated from Aesop’s fable, The Fox and the Grapes. A fox tries to eat grapes from a vine but cannot reach them. Rather than admit defeat, he declares them to be sour and undesirable. There are many who pretend to despise and belittle that which is beyond their reach.


Structure 2: Better X than Y


(IPA):   tʃɔ:r   kɔ:la   pəɳd   ka:li
(W2W): Thief    more    bale    hurry
(LT): The bale is more hurried than the thief.
(EE):  “Put the cart before the horse
To mean, to put things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities; to put something inconsequential as more important than something more essential.


Structure 3 : Either X or Y or neither X nor Y


(IPA):    tʃae        peʈa        tʃae   beʈa
(W2W): either   stomach    or    son
(LT): Either stomach or son.
(EE): One has to compromise one’s personal desires to feed the family.


Structure 4: X happens but Y does not happen and vice versa


(IPA):    pind      peja       ni       mənɡte      pele
(W2W): village  settle    not     beggar      ready
(LT): The village is not yet inhabited, but the beggars have come.
(EE): “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
To mean, “don’t rely on something you are unsure about; making plans based on assumptions can lead to disappointment.”

or alternatively:

Rome wasn’t built in a day.” To mean, it takes a long time to do an important job


Structure 5: X positive and Y negative


(IPA):    dəndə   ɡjə      səʊəd    ɡja      əkkʰã   ɡəijã    dʒəha:n    ɡja
(W2W): teeth     lost    taste     lost      eyes     lost      world       lost
(LT): If teeth are lost, taste is lost; if eyes are lost, world is lost.
(EE): “An eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth would lead to a world of the blind and toothless.”

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is a traditional expression of revenge. It references King Hammurabi’s Code and a biblical phrase in the Old Testament Book of Exodus regarding the legal penalties for violence. It has led to the clever maxim advocating for non-violence.


Dwivedi, Amitabh Vikram. (2015) Proverbs and Identity: A Study of Hadoti Proverbs. Entrepalavras, Vol.: 5, No. 1 (5) PP: 8-19, Pub.: Revista de Linguistica do Departmento de Letras Vernaculus da.

Gourav (2017). Structural Analysis of Dogri Proverbs. (Master’s Thesis).



[image: Fox and the Grapes | Odkness]


2 thoughts on “Structural Analysis of the Dogri Proverbs

  1. Its a good initiative…but I personally feel that the aim of the researcher has not yet been achieved….IPA and EE need revision.


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