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  • Author or Editor: Outi Lauhakangas x
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When people use a proverb or a proverb-like saying, it mostly represents an action to change the atmosphere of the situation going on. A social-psychological approach gives an apparatus to interpret different functions of proverbial speech and its relations to the use of humour in general. The article is based on the author’s study of functions of proverbial speech in social interaction. Proverbs are considered as a special kind of social strategy. Among the categories of the functions of proverbial speech listed in the Appendix, priority is given to those strategies in which a humoristic solution is most often preferred to serious social strategies. An obvious category in which proverbs are used humorously is ‘turning the situation into a joke’. In potentially conflicting situations such as negotiations it is important that both parties have an opportunity to joke about the situation. The liberating effect of humour, when somebody is using a proverb in a proper situation, is often an outlet for an individual’s own inner emotional tension. Something of the socially unburdening function of proverbs has also been recorded for proverb texts themselves. One can find lots of exaggerating expressions and humorous incongruity in the imagery of proverbs.

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