Introduction

Depending on their cultural settings proverbs like “All roads lead to Rome = Todos os caminhos vão dar a Tavira = Kaikki tiet vievät Turkuun”, … move on several levels of cultural and universal comprehension. Proverbs from different people and different speech areas enable various interpretations. In addition, the same proverb may be used in several contexts and for many purposes. Proverbs have always been liable to bring on problems of translation and of general explanations. They can be classified according to different criteria: historical, linguistic, thematic, educational, logical etc.

Thus, the above described rich diversity of viewpoints among paremiologists (scholars studying proverbs and proverbial expressions) around the world could be canalized to mutual benefit by contributions of complementary cultural fields. At least, paremiologists, paremiographers and enthusiasts of proverbs in Europe can unite knowing that a key value is solidarity and promoting an active citizenship, especially in times of crisis. To stimulate a debate and develop mutual learning between countries in order to promote good practice and encourage cooperation will be the central aim of the Colloquium, in this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (2017).

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In previous meetings concerning linguistic issues (e.g. http://europhras.org), historical approaches or dealing with problems of translation paremiology has been only an additional or separate theme of more extensive issues. Paremiologists have not yet taken the bridge-building position they could have been able to have. As experts of tradition and communication, paremiologists and paremiographers have a huge potential contribution to mutual understanding between cultures in a globalized universe.

Excellent collections of proverbs have been published since 15th century. Among them we can cite the multilingual collections from Gyula Paczolay (European proverbs in 55 languages, 1997), Arvo Krikmann and Ingrid Sarv (Eesti vanasõnad, 1987), Metīn Yurtbaşi (Turkish proverbs and their equivalents in Fifteen languages, 1993), the dictionary of Chu-Hsien Chen (The dictionary of Taiwanese proverbs and common sayings, 2009), as well proverb journals by Wolfgang Mieder (Proverbium: yearbook of international proverb scholarship, 1984-), Julia Sevilla-Muñoz (Paremia, 1993-). There have also been efforts to find criteria for classifying proverbs. One of the recent examples is the international type system http://lauhakan.home.cern.ch/lauhakan/cerp.html of a late Finnish academician Matti Kuusi.

It is time for Portugal, in Western Europe, to take a more active role by increasing proverb study and enthusiastic interest on paremiology as we have done in the recent past as shown with the examples from F.R.I.L.E.L. (Adágios, provérbios, rifãos e anexins da língua portugueza tirados dos melhores authores nacionaes e recopilados por ordem alphabetica, 1780) and António Delicado (Adágios portuguêses reduzidos a lugares communs, 1923). This is an effective way to reinforce identity of each country and to contribute for a better mutual understanding among nations from other cultural areas in the world.