- Milena Levunlieva added an answer:3Does anyone know how to analyse cultural belief systems or proverbs?
I am conducting a research on inheritance rights of women, laws are there but in practice, it is almost non existed. I am interested in deconstructing the belief system in the culture that create obstacles. Any one can guide me how to analysis this phenomenon.
Speaking from my personal experience, the best way to analyze proverbs is to use to cognitive semantic approach and view each proverb as a metonymic reframing of a general situation (in your case gender-related inheritance rights violation) as a specific one (the situation presented in each one of the proverbs you'll be analyzing). As to situations, they are defined by: 1) their temporal frame; 2) the agents and the patients/beneficiaries involved in the activity; 3) the activity itself (state, dynamic state, process or event). In any case, you can perform deep structure analysis of each [proverb first (The case for case revisited, Fillmore 1968) and then, after you've uncovered the essence of each situation under scrutiny, you can turn your attention to the semantic component of each proverb. The question you need to ask here is, What are the means of conceptualizing a highly abstract sphere of life, such as ideology or culture, as a specific event, activity or process. For example, in Bulgarian we have a proverb that says, He who bends his head low does not get hurt by a sword. Historically, this is a reflection of the time when Bulgaria was dominated by different invaders, but the specific situation through which this is conceptualized is one of taming violence through obedience and docility.
An important problem you need to solve, however, before you start the analysis is the criteria of excerpting your corpus. One way to do so is to look for proverbs with certain lexical items as key semantic components. Another way to compile your data is to think of a prototypical specific situation (say family relations and the obligations of women in the house) and take out all the proverbs that relate to this. Then you can short-list only those that are associated to the issue of ideology.
To illustrate this technique, I'm sending you a relevant excerpt from my PhD thesis.
Good luck in your research,