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Folk-Tale Networks: A Statistical Approach to Combinations of Tale Types

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to study combinations of tale types using a networks approach and calculating the centrality index of each type (degree, betweenness, eigenvector centrality). The network of tale types seems to take the form of a ‘small world’ with a few types serving as bridges between highly connected sets of tale types. The centrality of each type also seems to depend more on its age than on how widespread it is.

Open access
“Fortune Telling is a Curse on Your Children”: Conver Sion, Fort Une Telling, and Beliefs in Magic Among Roma Women in Estonia

Abstract

Missionary work by Pentecostal Finnish Roma (Kaale)1 started among the Roma in Estonia during the 1980s. These mission activities, carried out by both Finns and local Roma, intensified over the next two decades and continue today. The article looks into a specific case of how converted (Pentecostal and Baptist) and non-converted (Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic) Roma women in Estonia conceptualise the practice of fortune telling. For this purpose, the role of fortune telling as a traditional Roma skill and occupation is discussed as a part of the conceptualisation, together with the possible efficacy of fortune telling and its relation to beliefs in magic that also shape the women’s attitudes towards it. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, the article argues that although fortune telling is considered satanic by born-again believers and is therefore abandoned, its condemnation is not straightforward in less controlled narration situations, thus posing an extra challenge for Roma women in the conversion process.

Open access
The Goldfish and Little Red Riding Hood: Characters and their Combinations in Fairy Tale Jokes and Parodies

Abstract

There are two types of joke that can be described as fairy tale jokes: those with punchlines that include fairy tale characters, and fairy tale parodies. The paper discusses fairy tale jokes that were sent to the jokes page of the major Estonian internet Web Portal Delfi by Internet users between 2000 and 2011, and jokes added by the editors of the portal between 2011 and 2018 (CFTJ). The joke corpus has had different addresses at different times, and was a live ‘folklore field’ for the first few years after creation.

Of all the characters, the Goldfish appeared in the largest number of jokes (76 out of a total of 286 jokes), followed by Little Red Riding Hood (72). Other fairy tale characters feature in a 14 or fewer fairy tale jokes each.

Several fairy tale jokes circulating on the Internet varied over the period observed. Fairy tale jokes generally get their impetus from the characters and from plots with unexpected outcomes. A seemingly innocent fairy tale character is often linked to a sexual theme: sexuality holds first place as the source of humour in fairy tale jokes, although this may be caused by the so-called genre code of jokes.

Open access
A Life History of the ‘Irish’ Ecotype Tied Stones and Loose Dogs

Abstract

The term ecotype was first introduced to the field of folkloristics by Carl Wilhelm von Sydow (1878–1952), who proposed the idea that folktales develop from base forms due to transformations triggered by specific environmental conditions before eventually stabilising within cultural districts. The general analogy was popular amongst folklorists who readily invoked the concept to deconstruct a wide range of genres including rhyming couplets, folk ballads, folktales, fairy-tales, personal narratives, legends and urban legends. It is unfortunate, however, that ecotypes have largely been ignored by scholars working in the fields of paremiology, especially when one considers not only the established inter-relationships between proverbial material and other folkoristic genres, but also the recent pioneering cross-cultural analyses of idiomatic expressions in European languages and beyond.

This paper will provide a template for the analysis of folk expressions by examining the life history of an Irish ecotype, tied stones and loose dogs. It will show that folk expressions are a fertile area of research that can be deconstructed using literary and historical research based on the historic-geographic method. At the heart of this template, I argue, is the need to read texts within their contemporary cultural, historical and socio-economic frameworks to decode meanings according to instantiation, the motivations for their use, and the question of agency in folk groups. By collecting, examining and construing inter-relations between folkloristic texts across a range of cultural products – folklore collections, popular culture periodicals and political discourse – and by informed cultural contextualisation of its instantiations, we can re-construct the extensive cultural underpinnings that inform a range of everyday folk expressions.

Open access
“The Narrative is Ambiguous and that Location Isn’t the Right Location”: Presenting and Interpreting Medieval Saints Today in Canterbury, Durham and York

Abstract

Drawing on research for the Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present project, this article explores how the project’s medieval case study cathedrals – Canterbury, Durham and York – present their saints and shrines, and how visitors react to and interpret them. While looking at various narratives – predominantly about saints in historical and contemporary contexts – attached to these cathedrals, I also aim to offer some glimpses into how people interact with and relate to space. I argue that beliefs and narratives about saints play a significant role in the pilgrimage culture of the cathedral. I will also explore how the lack of a clear central narrative about the saint leaves a vacancy that will be filled with various other narratives.

Open access
The Practice of Wearing Crystals in Contemporary New Spirituality in Estonia: Supporting Oneself in Everyday Life

Abstract

This article concentrates on the practice of wearing crystals in Estonia. The practice is currently a popular phenomenon in New Spirituality on a global scale, although it is not an entirely novel trend. Crystals are part of the materiality of New Spirituality and so the aim of the article is to emphasize the meaning-making process of this materiality and of vernacular interpretations in the practice. Following the methodology of material culture studies, I focus on mutual relationships and interaction between humans and crystals and the significances gained through practice. Based on the perspectives of vernacular religion, the practice is embedded in people’s everyday lives. People wear crystals to support their human qualities and daily activities, and in practice crystals as material objects evolve intimate and profound relationship with people.

Open access
The Agricultural Deities of Q ’Eqchi’ Mayas, Tzuultaq’as: Agricultural Rituals as Historical Obligation and Avatar of the Cultural Reservoir in Rural Lanquín , Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Abstract

This study, based on fieldwork in rural Lanquín, Guatemala, discusses cultural continuity and the sense of historicity through agricultural rituals and worship of the agricultural deity Tzuultaq’as. The place, Lanquín, and the Q’eqchi’ Maya peasant farmers are situated within a two-fold tension and contradiction. Geographically remote in relation to the economic centers in Guatemala, and marginal in infrastructural development, while their cash crop harvests never fail to be effected by the fluctuations of the global market. From the eclectic stance merging both theories of cultural essentialism and constructivism, by juxtaposing the emblematic event of the anti-Monsanto Law movement in 2014 in Guatemala, and by the calendrical cycles of ritual events, routines, and ceremonials in rural Lanquín, the subsistence practices of milpa (corn field) cultivation emerge as a central theme for cultural survival and continuity. The aggregated clusters of ritual processions and the system of symbolism used manifest the Q’eqchi’ peasant thought and practice of sustainability and conservancy in their construction of a modern cultural identity that maintains congruency with the cultural essence of a nativist identity.

Open access
Alcohol as a Unifying Force in the Shamanic Community: Nanai Case Study

Abstract

The issue raised in the present article is shamanists’ ideas about why there should be unity in drinking in the shamanic community. In the framework of the shamanic worldview, each act of drinking, not only ritual acts but also everyday acts, can comprise the features of worshipping the spirits and making an offering to them. Hence there is the need to make an offering during any domestic drinking, and an obligation to share the drink with everyone present. From the shamanic perspective, by rejecting alcohol a person demonstrates a refusal to subordinate him or herself to the spirits, which can cause problems.

Open access