I’ve noticed an annoying and persistent tendency for people to inaccurately claim that certain sayings are Chinese proverbs. ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ is one example of such. ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is another.
These are admittedly only a couple of examples, so I may be going a bit far, but nonetheless, I claim that the following proverbs are true:
- C0: For any proverb P, ‘P is a Chinese proverb’ is a proverb.
- C1: For any proverb P, P is not a Chinese proverb if and only if P is claimed to be a Chinese proverb.
Since it is unnecessary for the Chinese to claim that a statement is a Chinese proverb (we need merely claim it to be a proverb), I make also the following claim:
- C2: For any proverb P, ‘P is a Chinese proverb’ is not a Chinese proverb.
Can these claims be consistent, and which (if any) can I consistently claim to be Chinese proverbs?
Addendum: Oftentimes, the claim that a proverb is Chinese is used by orientalist woo-peddlers to create credence for their claims. Allow me therefore to go so far as to claim:
- C3: For any proverb P, if P is claimed to be a Chinese proverb then P is false.
Is this consistent?