;The focus of this study concerns commonly used proverbs in the Taiwan Minnan and Hakka communities in the past four hundred years. We selected two most widely used and representative proverb dictionaries as the source of corpus, namely, the “Fu Chuan Minnan Proverb Dictionary” by Hsu Fu-Chuan and the “Taiwan Hakka Proverb Dictionary” by Huang Yong-Da. Through the analysis of proverbs that convey daily values and beliefs of ordinary people, we aim to compare the attitude toward life of the Minnan and Hakka groups in a more comprehensive way. While the amount of proverbs collected in the two proverb dictionaries do not fully cover all the proverbs of the respective ethnic group, we find it sufficient for the purpose of the current study.
We draw on and analyze the proverbs that reflect the attitudes of life in the two proverb dictionaries, and divide them into six themes: “food and clothing”, “festivals and customary beliefs”, “health care for the elderly”, “business and living”, “money”, and “politics”. Note that other themes, such as the views of interpersonal relationship, marriage, and life-death destiny, are also closely related to the topic. However, due to the large amount of proverb words involved in those themes, we didn’t include them in the present analysis.
Our study shows that the proportion of proverb items under each of the six themes is roughly the same between the two ethnic groups. In particular, the items that involve basic physiological needs, human nature, and basic beliefs (e.g., food importance in “food and clothing”, wealth and interpersonal in “money”, working attitude in “business and living”) have a high degree of similarity between the two ethnic groups. The items that are susceptible to the living environment and conditions (e.g., vocation in “business and living”, faith in “festivals and customary beliefs”, getting rich in “money”) reveal somewhat divergent views concerning the facets, and there are very few cases where the views of the two ethnic groups are completely opposite.
To summarize, in this study we compare the ethnic attitudes and personalities of the Minnan and Hakka groups from the perspective of proverb usage. Our results show that the two ethnic groups have similar attitudes toward life. This is consistent with previous studies in the literature.