Reinterpreted constituents as proper names in Italian proverbs

Joanna Szerszunowicz

Uniwersytet w Białymstoku


Among names employed in proverbs, there are constituents which become proper names
in the context of a proverb as a result of etymological reinterpretation. Such components
acquire a meaning, an effect which is not characteristic of proper names. Their semantic
load is conditioned by a possibility of two interpretations of the element in question:
first, as a unit belonging to nomina propria, e.g. an anthroponym or a toponym; second,
as a unit with a particular meaning, for instance, describing the person or the place named.
The analysed components are not prototypical proper nouns, but rather pseudo-proper
names. Proverbs containing such components are interesting from a stylistic perspective,
since thanks to word play, they gain humorous markedness. The aim of the article is to
shed light on this phenomenon by discussing Italian proverbs containing the components in question, analyzing the mechanisms of creating the possibility of etymological reinterpretation
of proper names, describing kinds of these constituents and determining
the number of reinterpreted components in the proverbs excerpted from a dictionary
of Italian proverbs Dizionario dei proverbi italiani by Carlo Lapucci.


proverb, proper name, allusive/ornamental name, etymological reinterpretation

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Cited by

Szerszunowicz, J. (2020). Reinterpreted constituents as proper names in Italian proverbs. Papers in Linguistics, 22(3), 229–244.

Joanna Szerszunowicz 
Uniwersytet w Białymstoku


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