The Effect of Culture Type on the Length of Persian Proverbs Compared to their English Equivalents

Amir Mohammadian


The interrelation of culture and language is to the extent that many classifications of culture are based on linguistic factors. In this article, high and low context cultures division is assessed on English and Persian as they belong to different cultural types. Forty Persian proverbs are contrasted with their equivalents in English to investigate whether there is a difference in the number of word forms used in each. In order to avoid linguistic differences which are effective in enumerating word forms, the second lines in linguistic glosses provided for Persian proverbs including a one to one correspondence of each word in English are used to count word forms. Results show that 70 percent of the Persian proverbs in the data are longer than their English counterparts. This shows that relative length of proverbs can be a distinguishing factor reflecting cultural types. The results not only confirm the applicability of this cultural division in the field of proverbs, but also a matter of tendency rather than a dichotomy in belonging to a high or low context culture is proposed. At the end, there are suggestions for further relevant investigations.


Culture, High context culture, Low context culture, proverb, length of proverb

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