So, as many of you may have noticed, I have been twisting Malay proverbs into stories, for want of anything better to fill my blog with. Of course, I say proverbs, but as far as I could tell at the time, they could have been anything. That's the problem I'm facing at the moment. You see, in Malay, everything was so much easier to say. in English, we have idioms, proverbs, figures of speech, aphorisms, etc. etc. etc. but in Malay, all of those are categorised under one word : peribahasa. Of course, hyponyms of peribahasa would include simpulan bahasa, pepatah kata, bidalan, etc. etc. etc. but if one was feeling lazy and couldn't remember which class that particular peribahasa fell under, he would only have to write peribahasa and be able to get away clean.
Unfortunately, not so with English. Only earlier this evening did I bother to take the time to read up on the fundamental differences between idioms and proverbs, and I found out that I've already made a mistake. Fortunately, out of the three fables I've written so far, I've only erred in one of them: the first one. "Like the owl who misses the moon" is not a proverb, its a SIMILE. Dang. Well, I won't try to pretend that I've never made such a mistake like that by editing the post again, for it is only human to err (that one is a proverb, by the way).
The main reason why I started researching these differences is because of an obstacle that was presented to me by my next peribahasa: "kaki gajah"; translated, "elephant feet". What does it mean? Well, it means, "big feet". In Malay, this kind of peribahasa would be called a simpulan bahasa, and as unenlightened as I was, I was aware that this two-word phrase could not be called a proverb. I look it up on Google, and apparently, an idiom is "a saying whose meaning can not be predicted from its individual words". Basically, "raining cats and dogs", which means "raining heavily" is an idiom because, when you think of rain, and then you think of cats and dogs, the last thing that comes to mind is heavy rain, right? Therefore, it is an idiom, because the meaning is obscure and not what you would expect from the individual words. Make sense so far? Therefore, in that sense, "elephant feet" should be an idiom, right? Perhaps not. Because when you think of elephants, and then you think of feet, of course you're going to think of BIG FEET. Is this peribahasa not obscure enough in its meaning to be called an idiom? Ah, it is the little things in life that drive the strongest constitutions into insanity, like water dripping on a rock. (That one's a simile!)