Questions tagged [oral-tradition]
Questions related to works of literature which are transmitted through speech or song.
The Boy and the Rattlesnake: What's the origin of this Cherokee fable?
There's a commonly told "Cherokee" fable about a boy and a rattlesnake. What's the origin of this fable? Where do we see it first see it in print and does it indeed go back to Cherokee ...
The Grand Old Duke of York: how did historical events become nursery rhymes?
"The Grand old Duke of York" is a well-known English nursery rhyme concerning the exploits of an not-specifically-identified duke of York. Wikipedia, citing the Opies and other books, gives ...
How does Ahmad Khani's Mem and Zin differ from the pre-existing oral tradition of the story?
Mem and Zin is a classic tale of traditional Kurdish storytelling, passed down through oral tradition for centuries, but also written down in 1692 by the Kurdish poet Ahmad Khani. In the process of ...
How did the Cutty Wren come to be the national anthem of Tristan da Cunha?
"The Cutty Wren", a traditional English folk song, is the "territorial song" (like national anthem for a British Overseas Territory?) of Tristan da Cunha, one of the remotest ...
What's the first appearance of the rhyme about "He died defending his right of way"?
There's a little poem that goes something like this: Here lies the body of Thomas Grey, Who died defending his right of way. He was perfectly right as he sped along, But he's just as dead as if he'd ...
Which element of an amputated virgin breast healing a snakebite is a "Celtic theme"?
The Breton folk song Gwerz Santes Enori has survived for centuries as an oral tradition combining storytelling with music. Its story, quoting Wikipedia's summary, begins like this: The poem's story ...
"Yum yum pig's bum"
I saw a vernacular poem that appears to have been passed down and passed around in various parts of the UK. A couple of different versions: Yum yum Pig's bum Wrap it up In chewing gum Have a slice ...
Why is the Star of the County Down referred to as Colleen?
While listening to the Irish Rovers version of the traditional Irish song "Star of the County Down", I noticed an apparent discrepancy in her name: Near Banbridge town, in the County Down ...
In the song "Whiskey in the Jar", would Captain Farrell have been British or Irish?
In the song "Whiskey in the Jar", would Captain Farrell have been British or Irish? What was the historical setting and context of the song's tale?
What is meant by "saints of forties and sevens" in this traditional Turkish hymn?
In the article "Ritual Change in a Turkish Alevi Village" by Thomas McElwain, I found a description of a sacrifice ritual which includes the following nefes (hymn?) recited for a ram: Erler ...
Thomas McElwain as Ali Haydar?
On this website of translated Turkish poetry, a traditional hymn of sacrifice from a Turkish Alevi village is included in its English translation, with a note at the top signed "Ali Haydar", although ...
How did the story of Robin Hood pass from oral literature to written?
Robin Hood is a famous figure of English folklore, whose existence or fictionality is still a subject of debate. The stories about him started off as folk tales transmitted orally (ballads), but by ...
Who is Queen Brijeena, the subject of a famous chavittu nadakam?
Chavittu nadakam is a Christian-origin dance form from Kerala, India. It's quite similar to the European opera, though chavittu nadakam involves a lot of dancing. The dance is accompanied by archaic ...
What's the origin of the rhyme "My friend Billy had a ten foot willy"?
A simple rhyming song which I heard growing up and which still gets stuck in my head every so often: My friend Billy had a ten foot willy. He stuck it through the neighbour's door. OR He showed ...
Origin of “walking to the end of the rainbow”
I have a problem translating a particular idiom to an other language (Arabic if this is relevant). The idiom is as in the title: "People of that age [middle aged people in their 40's] become little ...
How long did accounts of the Sängerkrieg last as purely oral literature?
The Sängerkrieg, or contest of minstrels, was an event which (supposedly) took place at Wartburg Castle in Germany in the early 13th century. Since its veracity is disputed, I assume there weren't any ...
Is the story of "Tales in the Sand" (or its form) faithful to traditional African stories?
In the prologue to The Doll's House (The Sandman #9 "Tales in the Sand"), Gaiman tells the story of Queen Nada. Neil Gaiman is not African, nor (as far as I could tell) were any of the people who ...
Were any of the Asbjørnsen og Moe stories transcribed directly from oral traditions?
Asbjørnsen og Moe are the Norwegian answers to the Brothers Grimm, the collectors of what is still considered the definitive volume of Norwegian folk tales. How many of these tales were taken from ...
Why, at the begining of the tale Jealous Twins, does the storyteller frame the story?
The Verba Africana website is a fantastic website that publishes recordings, transcriptions, and analysis of African oral literature. One of the stories published on the site is called Jealous Twins; ...
Are there any recorded discrepancies between The Odyssey as oral tradition and The Odyssey as Homer transcribed it?
The Odyssey began as oral tradition, and was later transcribed by someone we now call "Homer." Disregarding the Homeric Question concerning the identity of the person who transcribed these works, it ...
What does "M O" in the Razzle Dazzle cheer song mean?
I would like to know what a particular line in the following cheer poem is a reference to. Razzle Dazzle Leader: My name is (your name) I'm number one My reputation has just begun So if ...