|| Proverbs are the intelligence of the ancestors. They reflect the spirit of an era, the collective intelligence of each ethnic group. Though the form of the proverb is short and simple, its form has long been in circulation and common recognition. Proverbs belong to a broadly defined part of social literature, widely spread among common people by way of oral literature. A proverb of less than ten words is often a rich metaphoric recollection of human activities, implying important or interesting principles. The artistic techniques in proverbs, abundant in social color, are linguistic pearls that the common people refined out of their daily lives from ages past.
Yilan proverbs are a kind of local folk language peculiarly created or circulated in the Yilan area. They not only reflect the natural and human behaviors in the Yilan area, but also fully and accurately reveal the common experiences and ideas of the people there. This research of Yilan proverbs places emphasis on the relation between proverbs and local human development. Aside from preserving the oral literature of the area, this study will probe into the geographical environment and the social structure of the Yilan area, showing the importance and closeness of the cultural development in the region. This thesis consists of six chapters. Chapter One, ‘Introduction’, describes the motivation for and approaches to research as well as the study of related areas. This scholar’s studies are collected and used to clarify definitions of proverbs. This chapter also categorizes the differences among the neighboring language areas and explains the way of collecting and recording proverbs, the principles of the phonetic symbols used, the use of literal translation and method of classification. Chapter Two, ‘Geographic Nature and Human History of the Yilan Area in Brief’ sums up the natural environment and human history of the Yilan area, and cross references the intimate bond between proverbs and formal history. Chapters Three and Four are ‘Contents of the Proverbs in the Yilan Area’ which contain 186 items extracted from the massive quantity of proverbs in Yilan, categorize the proverbs in accordance with their content and nature. The categories are divided into natural phenomenon, seasons, and human development. In these two chapters, the topics are further broken down into 10 sections which are ‘Geographical Traffic and Regional Name’, ‘The Seasons and Climate’, Activities of Industry’, ‘Ethnic Development and Activities’, ‘Life and Social Conduct’, ‘Social Turmoil and Ethnic Conflicts’, ‘People and Historical Anecdotes’, ‘Customs, Religion and Characteristics of People’, ‘Folk Opera’, and ‘Slang and Tag Lines’ respectively. The major source of reference of recorded proverbs is of “The History Series in Yilan County – I-Lan Oral Literature”. Each proverb is listed, explained and analyzed phrase by phrase, and is marked with phonetic symbols word by word. Since derivation and circulation are closely linked with regional social structure and geographic nature, Chapter Five, ‘Characteristics and Cultural Meaning in the Proverbs of the Yilan Area’ analyzes the content and behavioral characteristics in the proverbs of Yilan. The chapter then looks into the cultural meaning of the proverbs, mainly the naturalenvironment and human history reflected in the proverb, and the characteristic personality of the Yilan people separately revealed by the proverbs. Chapter Six, ‘Conclusion’, concludes with the function and value of proverbs in the Yilan area, and offers personal insights and suggestions for the future study thereof.