Short folklore forms in culture and society


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Slovene Studies – tradition and modernity

Course code: 86

Year of study: Brez letnika

Course principal:
Asist. prof. Saša Babič, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussion classes

Objectives and competencies

To familiarize students with the concept of folklore forms within paremiology, folkloristics and linguistic anthropology from historical, theoretical and empirical point of view. Swearwords, proverbs, riddles, incantations and prayers will be considered as the most representative genres from the group of folklore forms. Students will be acquainted with the global and Slovenian history of collecting and researching short folklore forms, the theoretical aspects of individual genres, the analysis of Slovenian archives of folklore forms, and the research of contemporary material and its analysis.


Among the most important educational objectives of the course are: to understand the structure and function of individual short folklore form, i.e. swearwords, proverbs, riddles, incantations, prayers, within the context and time; to understand their role in society and transfer of social aspects, patterns. Important gained competencies are: critical insight into the short folklore forms and intertextuality; the perception of the dynamics of the different uses of short folklore forms, their variability and various public and media discourses, detection and research of (spontaneous and deliberate) variants.



Short folklore forms are the shortest forms of folklore and often a pragmatic part of everyday speech: greeting, swearing, proverb, riddle, incantation, prayer. All these genres are found in relatively fixed, yet constantly changing functions, forms and contexts. Students will learn about individual genres of short folklore forms in context within lessons:



  • Definition of swearwords and the characteristics of the use
  • Theoretical and methodological points of the swearword research
  • Cretivity and changing of swearwords and their use
  • Categorization of swearwords
  • Contemporary views and uses of swearwords
  • Problematics of field collecting of swearwords



  • Definition of proverbs
  • Theoretical and methodological points of the folklore research of poverbs
  • Creativity and modifications of proverbs and their use
  • Subgeners and categorization of proverbs
  • Intertextuality and its influence on using proverbs
  • Proverb and riddle on the genre border
  • Contemporary view and uses of proverbs



  • Definition of riddles
  • Theoretical and methodological points of the riddle research
  • Creativity and changing of riddles and their uses
  • Sub-genres of riddles and their variability
  • Contemporary view and uses of puzzles


Incantation and prayer

  • Definition of incantation and prayer
  • Theoretical and methodological points of the incantation and prayer research
  • Processes of changing of the incantation and prayer use
  • Categorisation of incantations and prayers
  • Contemporary view and uses of incantation and prayer


Basic literature

  • Babič, Saša 2015: Beseda ni konj: Estetska struktura slovenskih folklornih obrazcev. (Ethnologica – Dissertationes, 6). Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU.
  • Bartmiński, Jerzy 2009/2012: Aspects of Cognitive Ethnolinguistics. Sheffield and Oakville, CT: Equinox.
  • Duranti, Alessandro 1997: Linguistic Anthropology. Cambrige Textbooks in Linguistics. Velika Britanija: Cambrige University Press.
  • Dundes, Alan 1965: The Study of Folklore. University of California at Berkley.
  • Ivančič Kutin, Barbara 2011: Živa pripoved v zapisu. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU.
  • Jakop, Nataša 2006: Pragmatična frazeologija. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU Ljubljana.
  • Parrott Hickerson, Nancy 2000: Linguistic Anthropology. ZDA: Texas Tech University.
  • Stanonik, Marija 2001: Teoretični oris slovstvene folklore. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU.
  • Whorf, Benjamin Lee 1984: Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings (1956), ed. John B. Caroll, Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.I.T. Press, 1984.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna 1992: Semantics, Culture and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-Specific Configurations. New York, Oxford University Press.
  • Bauman, Richard 1963: The Collecting of Proverbs. Western Folklore 22/4. 271–272.
  • Dundes, Alan 1987: On the Structure of the Proverb. Proverbium 16 (1971)–25 (1975). Peter Lang. 961–974.
  • Dundes, Alan 1989: On Wether Weather »Proverbs« Are Proverbs. Folklore Matters. Knoxville. 92–97.
  • Jason, Heda 1987: Proverbs in Society: The Problem of Meaning and Function. Proverbium 16 (1971)–25 (1975). Peter Lang. 617–624.
  • Mieder, Wolfgang 1993: Proverbs are never out of season. Popular wisdom in the modern age. Oxford University Press
  • Ojo Arewa, E. in Dundes, Alan 1964: Proverbs and the Etnography of Speaking Folklore. American Anthropologist, New Series , 66/6, 2. del. 70–85
  • Dolenc, Milan 1999: Zagovori v slovenski ljudski medicini. Ljubljana: Inštitut za zgodovino medicine.
  • Grafenauer, Ivan 1937: Najstarejši slovenski zagovori. Maribor: Zgodovinsko društvo.
  • Kumer, Zmaga 1999: Zlati očenaš: slovenski ljudski pasijon. Ljubljana: Družina.
  • Matičetov, Milko


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Short folklore forms in culture and society ǀ

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