The study of the language embodying and transmitting folklore: an endeavour to reveal its relevance to sociolinguistics
This paper tries to examine and determine the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics since folklore being constituted by all the facets of the traditions, customs and culture of the speech community is embodied and composed in, and manifested and transmitted by means of language, particularly speech, and sociolinguistics discovers and ascertains the relations of language to society. To explore the issue in question, the researcher first explicates the role of language in folklore and then highlights the aspects of language studied in sociolinguistics. Finally, the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics has been established and exhibited.
Keywords: Speech, speech community, folklore and sociolinguistics
The general studies of the varied aspects of social life that interest us to a substantial extent include folkloristics, sociolinguistics, sociology, social and cultural anthropology, ethnology and ethnography. Though these studies are known and established as different subjects of learning or disciplines, it is not always possible to make a clear distinction between them. They are even found to be overlapping and inter-dependent in many respects. This factor encourages the present writer to examine how the subject-matter and/or medium of one social science can contribute to the study of another social science. For the convenience of the current investigation, the researcher has narrowed down the area and zeroed in on folklore and sociolinguistics.
That is, the present paper purports to be an endeavour to investigate and ascertain the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics since folklore is embodied and composed in, and manifested and transmitted by means of spoken language and sociolinguists discover and determine the relations of language to society. To explore the issue in question, the researcher first elucidates the role of language in folklore and then ascertains the aspects of language studied in sociolinguistics. Finally, the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics has been established and exhibited.
Language and folklore
Folklore being constituted of the customs, beliefs, attitudes, life style, joys, sorrows, entertainments, events, states, habits, traditions, and so forth of a particular group of people or community manifests itself as myths, legends, proverbs, riddles, tales, poetry, and other forms of artistic expression and passes down through the oral tradition. Hence, speech, a primary and productive skill of the language used by a specific community, performs a very significant part in containing, carrying, transmitting and communicating the varied products of the experience and knowledge of the people of the community. That is, the spoken word of course used in social contexts functions as the medium of folklore that not only encompasses the cognitive, cultural and social effects of the society/community but also profiles the trends of the society/community (Dundes 1965).
Social scientists have always considered language as an inevitable factor in social life since culture is only transmissible through coding, classifying and concentrating experience through some form of language. Hoijer (1964) maintains that there exists a functional interrelationship between socially patterned habits of speaking and thinking and other socially patterned habits. According to Worsley (1970), a developed language is a unique and distinctive human trait, and human society is a higher level of organization of behaviour than merely instinctive or animal behaviour. Sapir (1970: 68) also acknowledges language as a valuable guide to the scientific study of a particular culture, because ‘the network of cultural patterns of a civilization is indexed in the language which expresses that civilization’. It is therefore obvious that the speech of a particular community embodies and transmits its folklore, and folklore is naturally an authentic manifestation of the speech.
Moreover, Malinowski (1923) observes that an utterance in a primitive language is totally incomprehensible unless it is placed into its cultural setting and related to the circumstances in which it occurs. He argues –
Language is essentially rooted in the reality of the culture, the tribal life and customs of the people, and ... it cannot be explained without constant reference to these broader contexts of verbal utterance. (op. cit.: 306)
This postulate makes it clear that speech is intelligible when it is explained with reference to its context. And folklore can provide us with the context we need to interpret the language or speech of a community that no more exists in its primitive or previous form but is manifested in its customs and traditions.
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- Dr. M Maniruzzaman (Author), 2008, The study of the language embodying and transmitting folklore - an endeavour to reveal its relevance to sociolinguistics, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/93337