- This term can be used either broadly or narrowly. In the broad sense it applies to all prose narratives following traditional storylines, which are told orally, or were so told in previous generations. It thus covers *fairytales, *legends of all types, *memorates, *fables, *tall tales, and humorous anecdotes. The original author is always unknown; in the rare cases where an individual who shaped the current version has been identified, the tellers are unaware of this (e.g. *The Three Bears). Most tales seem to have been formed by re-combining traditional elements ('motifs') and/ or transferring an established plot ('tale-type') from one hero, or one location, to another.The narrow definition restricts itself to the avowedly fictional narratives in the above list, excluding legends and memorates, since these claim to be true. From an English point of view, this is regrettable, since legends make up a very high proportion of our corpus of traditional narratives and still circulate vigorously, while memorates are a major source for the study of current beliefs.The basic catalogue of folktales in the narrow sense is The Types of the Folktale by Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson (1961); see also Stith Thompson's The Folktale (1977). Its system was applied to British material in Baughman, 1966; it is used in the works of Katharine Briggs and other recent British folklorists.
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
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