Bidayuh Proverbs with Animal and Plant Elements A Reflection of Culture and Philosophy

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Florence G. Kayad
Mary Saman


Indigenous communities refer to animals and plants extensively in their folk proverbs. In this study an examination was conducted involving Bidayuh proverbs, with animal and plant elements, of the Bau Jagoi community in Sarawak, Malaysia by (a) categorising them according to the type and frequency of animal and plant elements used, and (b) analysing their implied and implicit meaning using inquisitive semantics approach. Data were collected from interviews with 12 Bidayuh informants aged 23 to 84 who lived in the same village. A total of 33 Bidayuh proverbs were elicited comprising 20 with animal elements and 13 with plant elements. The behaviours of the animals were associated with mostly negative behaviours in human whereas the characteristics of the plants were used to describe desirable human traits and appearance. The proverbs were also used to describe complex situations, teach moral values and good manners, express intense feelings, and give advice about life. Their deep meaning was related to the people’s living environment and way of life, their thinking and ethics, their beliefs, and customary practices, which reflect their culture and philosophy.


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