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miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2012

characteristics of the different tales

What is a Folk Tale?

A folk tale is a story or legend handed down from generation to generation usually by oral retelling. Folk tales often explain something that happens in nature or convey a certain truth about life.

  • The beginning of the story starts with "Once upon a time . . . " or a similar phrase.
  • Magic events, characters, and objects are part of the story
  • One character is someone of royalty (king, queen, prince, princess, etc.)
  • One character is wicked.
  • One character is good.
  • Goodness is rewarded in the story.
  • Certain numbers like three and seven are in the story (three eggs, seven sisters, etc.)
  • The story ends with ". . .they lived happily ever after."



African talesy

Way of Communicating

There is a rich, fertile legacy of folklore from Africa. On this vast continent, folk tales and myths serve as a means of handing down traditions and customs from one generation to the next. The storytelling tradition has thrived for generations because of the absence of printed material. Folk tales prepare young people for life, as there are many lessons to be learned from the tales. Because of the history of this large continent, which includes the forceful transplanting of the people into slavery on other continents, many of the same folk tales exist in North America, South America, and the West Indies. These are told with little variation, for the tales were spread by word of mouth and were kept among the African population.

In addition to the folk tales, there are myths, legends, many proverbs, tongue twisters, and riddles.


Anansi, the Spider, is one of the major trickster figures in African folk tales. This spider can be wise, foolish, amusing, or even lazy--but always there is a lesson to be learned from Anansi. The spider tales have traveled from Africa to the Caribbean Islands. Sometimes the spelling is changed from Anansi to Ananse. In Haiti the spider is called Ti Malice. Anansi stories came into the United Stated through South Carolina. The Anansi spider tales are told as "Aunt Nancy" stories by the Gullah of the southeastern part of the U.S.


Use of Nature

In the African folk tales, the stories reflect the culture where animals abound; consequently, the monkey, elephant, giraffe, lion, zebra, crocodile, and rhinoceros appear frequently along with a wide variety of birds such as the ostrich, the secretary bird, and the eagle. The animals and birds take on human characteristics of greed, jealousy, honesty, loneliness, etc. Through their behavior, many valuable lessons are learned. Also, the surroundings in which the tales take place reveal the vastness of the land and educate the reader about the climate, such as the dry season when it hasn't rained for several years, or the rainy season when the hills are slick with mud. The acacia trees swaying in a gentle breeze, muddy streams that are home to fish, hippos and crocodiles, moss covered rocks, and giant ant hills that serve as a "back scratcher" for huge elephants, give the reader a sense of the variety of life in this parched or lush land in this part of the world.

Types of African Folk Tales


These are very well-known folk tales from Africa. In the Uncle Remus stories, Bre'r Rabbit is the outstanding trickster figure. Hare, or Little Hare, appears in this role in the eastern part of Africa. The tortoise is a primary trickster figure in the Nigerian tales. Bre'r Rabbit and the Tar Baby is similar to Anansi and the Gum Doll of West Africa. The Tar Baby motif has been traced from India to America through Africa, Europe, and Spain.


In African versions of this tale, the tortoise wins because he uses his wits. In the European versions, on the other hand, the tortoise wins through sheer endurance and grit. The triumph of brain over physical strength is a common thread that runs through the trickster tales from Africa. The trickster figure is clever, witty, and unscrupulous, as are trickster figures all over the world, but the African trickster almost always wins out because of his brilliance.


There are many thousands of proverbs from African folk tales. A single tribe may have as many as a thousand--or even several thousand--of their own. So there are proverbs in abundance from this continent. Many times, a proverb is spoken in a tale by a character, rather than being left for the end of the story. Some of the more familiar proverbs do not need a story context in order to figure out the meaning. For example, "Do not set the roof on fire and then go to bed"; "He who runs and hides in the bushes does not do it for nothing; if he is not doing the chasing, we know that something is chasing him"; and "Chicken says: We follow the one who has something."


Many stories are deliberately left without an ending. This leaves the ending wide open for audience discussion and participation. The ending of the tale would be determined by the group of people involved in the exercise. The ending, therefore, is flexible and might change depending upon who is participating.


Making a simple loop from string and telling a tale with the string by twisting and turning the string to represent different parts of the story, is one of the oldest forms of storytelling in the world. In parts of Africa, the native children who cannot speak a word of English can often communicate with an English-speaking foreign visitor via a string story. It is a way of getting acquainted without words, and is a form of communication as different cultures share string stories. Some of the African string figures are the same as those of Pacific Ocean islanders or Eskimos of the far north.


Many of the folk tales have musical participation by the audience that adds much to the tale. It is common for the audience to answer questions aloud, to clap their hands in rhythm to word repetition (chorus), and to join in the chorus. The audience participation cannot be cut short, or the audience will let the storyteller know it. Some of the tales have a repetitive quality to them (such as, the same chorus may be used repeatedly) because the audience wants to enjoy the story and participate in the experience for as long as possible.


There are a wealth of crocodile tales from Africa. In parts of West Africa, a person attacked by a crocodile is said to be the victim of the vengeance of someone he has harmed. It is said that he who kills a crocodile becomes a crocodile. A South African Vandau proverb reminds us that: "The strength of the crocodile is in the water." In another tale, the fox claims to have the answer to killer-crocodiles who terrorize the people. He says the solution is simple. He eats their eggs. The ending proverb is, "Get rid of your enemy before he is Language can be conveyed by stronger than you."


drums. The Ashanti and other West African tribes, just by the rhythms and intervals in beating their drums by their fingers, the flat of their hand, or the thumb, can convey messages and be understood over long distances. Many different tones can be made by the pressure of the arm under which a drum is held. The stick for beating the drum came later. We still refer to a turkey leg as the "drum stick."


This type of tale is from Africa, where lions live in the wild. It is the idea that the Lion, King of the Beasts, lets his victims go for one reason or another, and then this good deed is rewarded in the end by the victim saving the life of the lion. It is the "one good turn deserves another" motif. This kindly lion theme spread from Africa to Europe.


"Opete" is the Twi term for the vulture. This bird is believed to be an instrument of the gods by the Ashanti and other West African peoples. This feeling of the sacred bird has survived in the New World and in the Caribbean.



What is a folktale? (folk tale)
A folktale is a story or legend forming part of an oral tradition. Folktales possess many or all of the characteristics listed below.

  • Are generally part of the oral tradition of a group.
  • Are more frequently told than read
  • Are passed down from one generation to another
  • Take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told
  • Sometimes take on the personality of the storyteller
  • Speak to universal and timeless themes.
  • Try to make sense of our existence, help humans cope with the world in which they live, or explain the origin of something.
  • Are often about the common person
  • May contain supernatural elements
  • Function to validate certain aspects of culture



This tales are told in their local dialects (Japanese folktales for example) which may be difficult to understand because of intonation and pronunciations differences, conjugations and vocabulary.
The animals or creatures are known by their abilities, foxes are mentioned frequently for instance. Another characteristic that these tales contain is marriages between humans and non-humans.
The Asian tales allow children to experience the culture and heritage or tradition.



Australia traditional storytelling, handed down from generation to generation, has always been part of the landscape. Since the beginning of time (the Dreaming) storytelling played a vital role in Australian Aboriginal culture, one of the world’s oldest cultures. Aboriginal children were told stories from a very early age; stories that helped them understand the air, the land, the universe, their people, their culture and their history. Elders told stories of their journeys and their accomplishments. As the children grew into adults they took on the responsibility of passing on the stories. These stories are as much a cultural necessity as they are entertainment and are still passed on orally though many are now recorded in print, audio and video.


What is a Tall Tale?

A tale tale is an extravagant, fanciful or greatly exaggerated story. Usually focuses on the achievements of the ultimate hero. The folktale is a story, passed down verbally from generation to generation. Each storyteller told the stories a little differently, making them more interesting and fascinating as the ages passed. Different folktales bear the characteristics of the culture, folklore and customs of the people from which they originated.

What is a Myth?

Myths are traditional, typically ancient stories dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people. The purpose of myths is to account for the origins of something, explain aspects of the natural world or delineate the psychology, customs, or ideals of society. In many myths, the main characters are gods or demi-gods and the story may have some religious meaning or background.

In the Inuit tale of the”
First Tears” retold by S.E. Schlosser, we discover how Man learned to cry.

Excerpt: "Once long ago, Man went hunting along the water's edge for seals. To Man's delight, many seals were crowded together along the seashore. He would certainly bring home a great feast for Woman and Son. He crept cautiously towards the seals. The seals grew restless. Man slowed down. Suddenly, the seals began to slip into the water. Man was frantic. His feast was getting away."

What is a Legend? 

A legend is a traditional tale handed down from earlier times and believed to have an historical basis.

Example”Jesee James and the Widow”









What are Urban Legends?

Urban Legends are apocryphal stories involving rather fantastic contemporary incidents which have a tantalizing bit of plausibility to them. Urban legends contain many folkloric elements and are disseminated through mass media.

Example “The Dance”









What is a Fable

A fable is a short narrative making a moral point. Often employs animals with human characteristics (powers of speech, etc.) as the main characters of the story.

Example: “The ant and the Grasshopper

What is a Fairy Tale? 

A fairy tale is a fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children.

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