When an ordinary declarative sentence attains the stature of an aphorism, it acquires a whole set of linguistic and logical relations different from that of ordinary sentences. For instance, if someone says, “Global warming is caused by the increasing frequency of sunspots,” several common questions can be asked appropriately: Who said it? Is s/he an expert or a layman? When was it said? Was it said at a meeting of scientists or in a casual conversion? Was it said seriously or in jest? What evidence was offered to support the declaration? Is that evidence true? Does the declaration follow from the evidence logically? If not, why?
When it comes to aphorisms, however, none of these questions is appropriate. Consider, for example, “the early bird gets the worm.” No one cares who said it, when it was said, or where it was said. No one ever offers any evidence to support it. As a matter of fact, it might even be literally false. No one has ever tried to find out; no one even knows how to try to find out because the sentence is not about the real things denoted by its words. The sentence is not about birds or worms. So where would anyone look for evidence? The aphorism is about initiative, perseverance, promptness, or something else that is nowhere stated. Yet, like the gong of a well forged bell, it merely “rings true.” It has the ring of truth.