Subordination In Biblical Paremiological Utterances


In most biblical paremiological utterances, nuances may overlap, which makes it difficult to identify the type of subordinate clause. Nuancing and synthesising the semantic and syntactic markers are part of the expressive arsenal of the pragmatics of the paremiological text. In the absence of such subtle nuancing, communicative performance would be inconceivable. Regarding subordination relations, that of a subjective and its regent is the most common. The syntax follows the universal logical schema of any utterance, consisting of a Logical Subject (minimal), a Logical Predicate (maximum), and a conjunction. The differences between languages arise from the different possibilities of expressing the subject, primarily because the predicate, being the axis of the sentence in any language, remains relatively stable. In the vast majority of cases, the subject’s expression must go beyond the limits of the denotational function, since its use as an exemplary element for the receiver, its exemplary function for which it was selected in the utterance, assumes a brief description, but it is also loaded with connotations.

Keywords: Biblical proverbsubordinationpragmaticsparemiological utterancecommunicative performances


From al the relations of subordination, that of a subjective and its regent is the most common. The syntax follows the universal logic of the scheme of any utterance, consisting of a logical Subject (minimum), a logical Predicate (maximum) and the conjunction.

The differences between the languages come from the different possibilities of expression of the subject in the first place, because the predicate, constituting the phrase axis, in any language, remains relatively stable. The subject can be simple, in the minimalist utterances of the type:

Leneşul nu-şi frige nici vânatul lui. (12,27) / The lazy does not fry his own game. (12,27).

The paremiological utterances meaning

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the subject’s expression should not exceed the limits of the denotative function, because its use as exemplary element for the receiver, its significant function, for which he was selected in the enunciation, requires a brief description, but with great connotations.

However, this can be done either by replacing the noun with a substantivized adjective, as in the example above, either through a present or perfect participle, either through a periphrases or a subjective sentence formed by the development of the simple subject.

If we say: [ Unii oameni nu-şi frig nici vânatul lor / Some people could not fry their own game ] the receiver understands the message to the level of the negative assertion, but when we say: the lazy ...we understand that all people in this category are behaving in the same way.

In other words, as neither the rest of sentence structure could not remain at zero degree of the denotative [ unii oameni nu iubesc efortul / some people do not love the effort ], but it is figurative colored [ nu-şi frig nici vânatul lor / could not fry their game ], no subject can remain at this level.

Problem Statement

The etymology of the biblical utterances:

The ancient languages also use nouns or adjectives, substitutes de-participles (adverbials, in general), which have the ability to express synthetically both the determinative and determinant (“lazy man”, “the man who doesn’t like work”, etc.). Romanian has, in this respect, fewer opportunities than Hebrew, Greek, Latin and even than Slavonic.

The substantivized adjectives may be used (lazy, meal, greedy, wise, fool, etc.), passive participles (the outwitted in “All the outwitted are wise”) earned (earned wealth), but may not be used, active participles normal manifestations of the verb very often used in such contexts in classical languages.

For the Latin provides, “cautious” the speaker balances between:

Prevăzătorul îşi agoniseşte din timp hrana / the cautious raises the food in time ” and „Cine este prevăzător îşi agoniseşte...” / “who cautious is raising his food...”, because none of the trials correspond to the original.

The same way, for peritus can be used a periphrasis: a skilful man (cf. 17,24), but is preferred an amplification of the appropriate sentence, obtained through the operation of the development of the part of the sentence in question: the one who is not capable (cf. 17,16)

The confusion of the translator must have been much greater, as the terms of this onomasiology group are extremely frequent in the Bible proverbs as they relate to the component practical application of “wisdom”, the central term of the entire Book of Parables (“wisdom” means “knowledge/science” + “ability”, with all the complementary attributes - temperance, frugality, generosity, right spirit etc.).

Even in the context of which we extracted the above expression is seen as it outlines the scope of the semantics of such terms...could acquire wisdom, but has no skill (17,16). In Greek (and other languages) there were consecrated terms for the respective concepts, as there were for the man characterized by unfair and fair spirit. In Romanian we use the derived forms, structure loan-translations, semantic or mixed loan-translations and whole sentences. The Greek díkaios and adikos become in Romanian “the one who loves justice” and “the lawless”, “the one that condemns the innocent”.

That explains the large number of subjective sentences in the enunciate proverbs (implicative proverbs, with as reviewer the human qualities):

Cel ce binecuvintează va fi îndestulat, iar cel ce blestemă va fi blestemat / he who blesses will be well-fed, he who curses will be cursed. (11,28); Cel ce iubeşte învăţătura iubeşte ştiinţa, iar cel ce urăşte certarea este nebun. / He who loves teaching loves science, and he who hates to quarrel is crazy. (12.1), etc. (Anania, 2000).

Research Questions

To all these are added the subjective structures required by the impersonal verb must or the verbal impersonal expressions which are commonly in regents of the subjective subordinates:

e bine, nu-i bine, (nu) se cuvine, se cade... / it is okay, it is not well, it is not proper, it is proper...

Or, in general statements with ethics norm character, such appropriate verbs are used appropriately. In this regard, Romanian inherits from Latin, which has so many expressions of “necessity”, etc. ( opus est, necesse est ), Greek behaves in a more flexible manner, for it has more opportunities of expressing the impersonal, and the Slavic languages are characterized by “personalizing” the impersonal, meaning that the types of verbs as must/need have also reflected normal bending, sometimes in incorrect Romanian equivalents ( eu trebuiesc, tu trebuieşti etc. / I need to be / You need to be etc. (Muntean, 1966).

In the texts selected by us, we do not find too many examples of this subjective types (called in the normative grammars, “type b subjective”), perhaps because of the successive translations in the languages of the various stages of intermediate Romanian, we have replaced other formulas, given the difficulty of translation:

“Nu se cuvine să pui la plată pe omul drept, nici (nu se cuvine) să osândeşti pe cei nevinovaţi... (17,26). / It is not fair for the righteous man to pay, not is appropriate to condemn the innocent... (17, 26).” We must add immediately, however, that option determined by the translators that there were already many Romanian popular proverbs constructed in subjective subordinates) (Teodorescu, 1972, p. 114).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to observe the strucure and the rapport of subordination in biblical paremiological utterances. Constantin Negreanu ( 1983) indicates 491 syntactic patterns out of a total of 5994 popular proverbs, that is to say 8,20%, whereas the subjective and the attributive are the only two recurring subordinates in Romanian (Teodorescu, 1972, p. 131).

  • Cine poate oase roade, cine nu, nici carne moale. / Who can gnaw bone, who does not, nor soft meat.

Cine caută nevastă fără cusur, neînsurat rămâne. / Who is searching for his wife without blemish, remains unmaried.

Cine caută vreme, pierde vreme. / Who is searching for time, loses time.

  • Trebuie să dai câteodată o lumânare şi dracului. / You must sometimes give a candle to the devil.

Trebuie să mănânci un care de sare cu cineva ca să-l cunoşti bine. / You need to eat salt with someone to know him well.

E mai bine să fie cineva la colţ de ţară şi la mijloc de masă. / It’s better for someone to be around the corner of the country and at the middle of the table.

Research Methods

5.1. The phenomenon can be explained in terms of pragmatic analysis:

The “denominative top” of the subjective, that is to say the phrase that names the creature, the object, etc. should be thoroughly put into relief, and the “communicative top” (a phrase which informs) completes its metaphorical definition of elements, both sustaining the act of performative generated by proverbs.

Of the other sentences, the attributive subordinated phrase commonly seen, confirming from the perspective of the researcher’s finding the above explanations.

5.2. The explanation can only be that the object defined/described in the paremiologic statement must be highlighted through its attributes - positive or negative. When this is not possible through synthetic speech (the substantivized adjective) the analytical path - an attribute or an attributive subordinate:

Fericit este omul 1/ care se teme totdeauna 2/, iar cel 3/ care învârtoşeşte inima lui va cădea în nenorocire 4/. (28,14). Happy is the man 1/ that fears always 2/and the one 3/ who has a courageous heart will fall into misfortune 4/. (28,14).

5.3. It is important to note that we are talking about determinative attributives, i.e. indispensable to the qualitative/actionable salience of the supposed subject, because the additional explanatory-by their nature - would violate rules deals with the concentration of the paremiologic utterance. (Saumian, 1968).


We can identify in our corpus of proverbs other types of subordinates: conditionals, concessive, temporal, circumstantial. Typically, such sentences appear in atypical utterances, i.e. in the exhortation formulated like proverbs, in the Bible orations:

Dacă vine mândria, va veni şi ocara... (11,2) / If it comes pride, the reproach will come too... (11.2); Dacă ai găsit miere, mănâncă atât cât îţi trebuie ... (25,16); / If you found honey, eat as much as you need ... (25,16); Chiar dacă vei pisa în piuliţă pe cel nebun, tot nu-l vei despărţi de nebunia lui. (27,22). / Even if you’re going to beat the crazy, you will still not part him of his madness. (27,22).

In such situations, the utterance is amplified a lot, as we have already pointed out, which means that you can add other types of subordinates, as well as final, causal subordinates etc.:

Dacă ai găsit miere 1/, mănâncă atâta cât îţi trebuie 2/ saturi şi să verşi.3/ (25,16). / If you found honey, eat 1/as long as you need 2/, lest you fill up and puke.3/ (25,16).

The other example given here is noted and in a fuller form, developed into a true rhetoric period, about which we can say that represents a sum of proverbs, if we accept as definitive only simple binary structure or, at most, doubled:

Nu te bucura 1/ când cade vrăjmaşul tău 2/ şi când se poticneşte 3/ să nu se veselească inima ta, 4/Ca nu cumva să vadă Domnul 5/ şi să fie neplăcut în ochii Lui. 6/ (24,17-18). / Do you enjoy 1/ when your enemy falls 2/and when he stumbles across 3/ your heart not be cheerful, 4/ lest the Lord is seeing 5/and this be obnoxious in his eyes. 6/ (24,17-18).


Concerning the problem studied here, i.e. the biblical paremiological utterances, the difficulty lays in identifying the type of subordinate clause. A great part of the expressive arsenal of the pragmatics of the paremiological text is nuancing and synthesising the semantic and syntactic markers. But, in the absence of such subtle nuancing, the communicative performance would be impossible.

In all cases cited above, the overlapping of nuances is possible that make it difficult to identify the subordinated type. But the refinement and consolidation of semantic and syntactic marks etc. are part of the expressive arsenal of the pragmatics in the paremiologic text discourse. In the absence of such subtle nuances, the communicative performance nor would be conceivable.


  1. Anania, V. B. (2000). Poezia Vechiului Testament. Cartea lui Iov. Psaltirea. Proverbele lui Solomon. Ecleziastul. Cântarea Cântărilor. Plângerea lui Ieremia. Versiunea revizuită după Septuaginta. Bucureşti: Editura Institutului Biblic şi de Misiune al B.O.R.
  2. Constantin N. (1983).Structura proverbelor româneşti. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, p. 114 şi 131)
  3. Muntean, G. (1996). Apa trece, pietrele rămân. Proverbe româneşti. Bucureşti: Editura pentru literatură.
  4. Saumian, S. K. (1968). Problems of theoretical phonology. The Hague: Mouton..
  5. Teodorescu, E. (1972). Propoziţia subiectivă. Bucureşti, România: Editura Ştiințifică.

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18 December 2019

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Toma*, R. F. (2019). Subordination In Biblical Paremiological Utterances. In A. Sandu, T. Ciulei, & A. Frunza (Eds.), Multidimensional Education and Professional Development: Ethical Values, vol 27. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 788-792). Future Academy.