Common English Proverbs and Equivalents in Malay and Chinese is a compendium of 2,600 common English proverbs, idiomatic expressions and phrases and their comparable equivalents in Malay and Chinese proverbs. They are collectively dubbed as peribahasa in Malay, proverbs in English and 諺 語 in Chinese and commonly known as such. As the root of some of these proverbs goes back to the infancy of English, Malay and Chinese civilizations developed independently in the far-flung three corners of the globe, this is also a journey of discovery and exploration on the many marvels of English, Malay and Chinese proverbs, including their meanings and role as a source of traditional wisdom and the development of their variants. Through this collection of proverbs, we can step back in time to many unique periods of English, Malay and Chinese history across the centuries. These thousands of proverbs are an impressive panorama of first-oral-then-written records of the local folks, expressed in 諺 語, 成 語, 歇 後 語, as well as 俗 语 among the Chinese and simpulan bahasa, bidalan, pepatah and perumpamaan among the Malays.
This impressive work enables readers to “overcome the cumbersome and time-consuming ways of referring to three different monolingual proverb dictionaries”. But it is also the latest opus in this often-lonely marathon in his lifelong labour of love. This volume advances three-way translingual and cross-cultural communication, exchanges, dealings, relations, relationships, associations, connections, contacts, interchanges, intercommunication, communion, correspondence and intercourse involving the Malay world. Proverbs are presumed to be traditional sayings and expressions drawing from or based on folk wisdom, morals and shared experience. These often simple, but also meaningful, if not profound phrases form a genre of folklore passed down over generations through daily use, particularly in the oral form. As Ding points out, some proverbs originating from scholars and the intelligentsia in society may be deemed literary in form. But the most popular idioms and proverbs are typically those shared orally and thus popularized by people from all walks of life. This distinguishes popular, even earthy idioms and proverbs from other ostensibly “higher” forms of literature. Easily accessible to anyone, they capture and refract popular culture and non-elite thought, reflecting life in society.