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

Full Text:



Benedict, R. (1934). Patterns of Culture. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Collis, H. (1992). 101 American English Proverbs: Understanding Language and Culture Through Commonly Used Sayings. Lincolnwood (Chicago): Passport Books.

Ferraro, G. P. (1994). The Cultural Dimension of International Business (Second ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.

Francis Katamba, John Stonham. (2006). Morpholgy (Second ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Full IPA Chart. (2015). (IPA Webmaster) Retrieved 6 22, 2016, from International Phonetic Association:

Galanti, G. A. (2004). Caring for Patients from Different Cultures (Third ed.). philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Ghomeshi, J. (2008). Markedness and bare nouns in Persian. In S. Karimi, V. Samiian, & D. Stilo (Eds.), Aspects of Iranian Linguistics (pp. 85-112). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Grzybek, P. (2004). A Quantative Approach to lexical Structure of Proverbs. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 11(1-2), 79-92. doi:10.1080/092961705123313833665

Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond Culture. New York: Doubleday.

Hassan Zolfaghari, Hayat Ameri. (2012). Persian Proverbs: Definitions and Characteristics. Journal of Islamic and Human Advanced Research, 2, 93-108.

Helen Spencer- Oatey and contributors. (2013). Introduction. In H. Spencer-Oatey (Ed.), Culturally Speaking: Culture, Communication and Politeness Theory (Second ed.). London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Hofstede, G. H. (1991). Cultures and Organizations, Software of the Mind, Intercultural Cooperation and its Importance for Survival. London: McGraw- Hill International (UK) Limited.

Kwak, S. (2010). Negation in Persian. Iranian Studies, 43(5), 621-636. doi:10.1080/00210862.2010.518028

Mahootian, S. (1997). Persian. London and New York: Routeldge.

Mahootian, S. (2008). Inversion and Topicalization in Farsi Discourse. In S. Karimi, V. Samiian, & D. Stilo (Eds.), Aspects of Iranian Linguisticcs (pp. 277-288). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Rong, H. (2013). Proverbs Reveal Culture Diversity. Cross-Cultural Communication, 9(2), 31-35. doi:http//

Shelby, M. (2015). Difficulties and Problems in Learning English. Retrieved 7 2, 2016, from Teach This:

Taylor, E. B. (1871). Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom (Second ed., Vol. 1). University of Michigan: Murray.

Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and Social Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Trompenaars, F. (1993). Riding the Waves of Culture. London: Nicholas Brealey.

What is Culture? (2014, 5 27). (University of Minnesota ) Retrieved 6 22, 2016, from Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA):

Williams, R. (1976). Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontara.

Zahrana, R. S. (1995). Understanding Cultural Preference of Arab Communication- Pattern. Public Relation Review, 21(3), 241-255.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.