Word of mouth

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Word of mouth or viva voce, is the passing of information from person to person using oral communication, which could be as simple as telling someone the time of day. [1] Storytelling is a common form of word-of-mouth communication where one person tells others a story about a real event or something made up. Oral tradition is cultural material and traditions transmitted by word of mouth through successive generations. Storytelling and oral tradition are forms of word of mouth that play important roles in folklore and mythology. Another example of oral communication is oral history—the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences and opinions of the speaker. Oral history preservation is the field that deals with the care and upkeep of oral history materials collected by word of mouth, whatever format they may be in.

Contents

Storytelling

Storytelling often involves improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values.

The earliest forms of storytelling were thought to have been primarily oral combined with gesture storytelling for many of the ancient cultures. [2] The Australian Aboriginal people painted symbols from stories on cave walls as a means of helping the storyteller remember the story. The story was then told using a combination of oral narrative, music, rock art, and dance. [3]

Traditionally, oral stories were committed to memory and then passed from generation to generation. However, in literate societies, written and televised media have largely replaced this method of communicating local, family, and cultural histories. Oral storytelling remains the dominant medium of learning in some countries with low literacy rates.

Oral tradition

Oral tradition (sometimes referred to as "oral culture" or "oral lore") is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. [4] [5] The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledges across generations without a writing system.

Sociologists emphasize a requirement that the material is held in common by a group of people, over several generations, and thus distinguish oral tradition from testimony or oral history. [6] In a general sense, "oral tradition" refers to the transmission of cultural material through vocal utterance, and was long held to be a key descriptor of folklore (a criterion no longer rigidly held by all folklorists). [7] As an academic discipline, it refers both to a set of objects of study and a method by which they are studied [8] —the method may be called variously "oral traditional theory", "the theory of Oral-Formulaic Composition" and the "Parry-Lord theory" (after two of its founders). The study of oral tradition is distinct from the academic discipline of oral history, [9] which is the recording of personal memories and histories of those who experienced historical eras or events. [10] It is also distinct from the study of orality, which can be defined as thought and its verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to most of the population. [11]

Oral history

Oral history is the recording of personal memories and histories of those who experienced historical eras or events. [10] Oral history is a method of historical documentation, using interviews with living survivors of the time being investigated. Oral history often touches on topics scarcely touched on by written documents, and by doing so, fills in the gaps of records that make up early historical documents. Oral history preservation is the field that deals with the care and upkeep of oral history materials, whatever format they may be in. [12]

Systems

Long-established systems using word-of-mouth include:

See also

Related Research Articles

Folklore Expressive culture shared by particular groups

Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called folklore studies or folkloristics, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.

Joke Display of humor using words

A joke is a display of humour in which words are used within a specific and well-defined narrative structure to make people laugh and is usually not meant to be taken seriously. It takes the form of a story, usually with dialogue, and ends in a punch line. It is in the punch line that the audience becomes aware that the story contains a second, conflicting meaning. This can be done using a pun or other word play such as irony or sarcasm, a logical incompatibility, nonsense, or other means. Linguist Robert Hetzron offers the definition:

A joke is a short humorous piece of oral literature in which the funniness culminates in the final sentence, called the punchline… In fact, the main condition is that the tension should reach its highest level at the very end. No continuation relieving the tension should be added. As for its being "oral," it is true that jokes may appear printed, but when further transferred, there is no obligation to reproduce the text verbatim, as in the case of poetry.

Tradition A long-existing custom or belief

A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. A component of folklore, common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes, but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word tradition itself derives from the Latin tradere literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time. Various academic disciplines also use the word in a variety of ways.

An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted.

Storytelling Social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment

Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.

Oral tradition Culture preserved and transmitted through speech or song

Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural material is received, preserved, and transmitted orally from one generation to another. The transmission is through speech or song and may include folktales, ballads, chants, prose or verses. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledge across generations without a writing system, or in parallel to a writing system. Religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, and Jainism, for example, have used an oral tradition, in parallel to a writing system, to transmit their canonical scriptures, rituals, hymns and mythologies from one generation to the next.

A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional or fictional. Narratives can be presented through a sequence of written or spoken words, still or moving images, or any combination of these. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, which is derived from the adjective gnarus. Along with argumentation, description, and exposition, narration, broadly defined, is one of four rhetorical modes of discourse. More narrowly defined, it is the fiction-writing mode in which the narrator communicates directly to the reader.

Folklore studies Branch of anthropology devoted to the study of folklore

Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or folk life studies in the United Kingdom, is the branch of anthropology devoted to the study of folklore. This term, along with its synonyms, gained currency in the 1950s to distinguish the academic study of traditional culture from the folklore artifacts themselves. It became established as a field across both Europe and North America, coordinating with Volkskunde (German), folkeminner (Norwegian), and folkminnen (Swedish), among others.

The word oral may refer to:

Oral literature or folk literature is a literature that is spoken or sung as opposed to that which is written, though much oral literature has been transcribed. There is no standard definition, as folklorists have varying descriptions for oral literature or folk literature. A broad conceptualization refers to it as literature characterized by oral transmission and the absence of any fixed form. It includes the stories, legends, and history passed from generations in a spoken form.

Walter J. Ong

Walter Jackson Ong was an American Jesuit priest, professor of English literature, cultural and religious historian, and philosopher. His major interest was in exploring how the transition from orality to literacy influenced culture and changed human consciousness. In 1978 Ong served as elected president of the Modern Language Association.

The history of communication technologies have evolved in tandem with shifts in political and economic systems, and by extension, systems of power. Communication can range from very subtle processes of exchange, to full conversations and mass communication. The history of communication itself can be traced back since the origin of speech circa 500,000 BCE. The use of technology in communication may be considered since the first use of symbols about 30,000 years BCE. Among the symbols used, there are cave paintings, petroglyphs, pictograms and ideograms. Writing was a major innovation, as well as printing technology and, more recently, telecommunications and the Internet.

Traditional stories, or stories about traditions, differ from both fiction and nonfiction in that the importance of transmitting the story's worldview is generally understood to transcend an immediate need to establish its categorization as imaginary or factual. In the academic circles of literature, religion, history, and anthropology, categories of traditional story are important terminology to identify and interpret stories more precisely. Some stories belong in multiple categories and some stories do not fit into any category.

Orality

Orality is thought and verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy are unfamiliar to most of the population. The study of orality is closely allied to the study of oral tradition.

Oral-formulaic composition is a theory that originated in the scholarly study of epic poetry and was developed in the second quarter of the twentieth century. It seeks to explain two related issues:

  1. The process by which oral poets improvise poetry.
  2. The reasons for orally improvised poetry having the characteristics that it does.
John Miles Foley

John Miles Foley was a scholar of comparative oral tradition, particularly medieval and Old English literature, Homer and Serbian epic. He was the founder of the academic journal Oral Tradition and the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri, where he was Curators' Professor of Classical Studies and English and W. H. Byler Endowed Chair in the Humanities.

American Sign Language literature is one of the most important shared cultural experiences in the American Deaf community. Literary genres initially developed in residential Deaf institutes, such as American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, which is where American Sign Language developed as a language in the early 19th century. There are many genres of ASL Literature, such as Narratives of Personal Experience, Poetry, Cinematographic Stories, Folktales, Translated Works, Original Fiction and Stories with Handshape Constraints. Authors of ASL literature use their body as the text of their work, which is visually read and comprehended by their audience viewers. In the early development of ASL literary genres, the works were generally not analyzed as written texts are, but the increased dissemination of ASL literature on video has led to greater analysis of these genres.

Personal narrative (PN) is a prose narrative relating personal experience usually told in first person; its content is nontraditional. "Personal" refers to a story from one's life or experiences. "Nontraditional" refers to literature that does not fit the typical criteria of a narrative.

Family folklore is the branch of folkloristics concerned with the study and use of folklore and traditional culture transmitted within an individual family group. This includes craft goods produced by family members or memorabilia that have been saved as reminders of family events. It includes family photos, photo albums, along with bundles of other pages held for posterity such as certificates, letters, journals, notes, and shopping lists. Family sayings and stories which recount true events are retold as a means of maintaining a common family identity. Family customs are performed, modified, sometimes forgotten, created or resurrected with great frequency. Each time the result is to define and solidify the perception of the family as unique.

Indigenous cultures in North America engage in storytelling about morality, origin, and education as a form of cultural maintenance, expression, and activism. Falling under the banner of oral tradition, it can take many different forms that serve to teach, remember, and engage Indigenous history and culture. Since the dawn of human history, oral stories have been used to understand the reasons behind human existence. Today, Indigenous storytelling is part of the broader indigenous process of building and transmitting indigenous knowledge.

References

  1. "by word of mouth". thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  2. "Why did Native Americans make rock art?". Rock Art in Arkansas. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  3. Cajete, Gregory, Donna Eder and Regina Holyan. Life Lessons through Storytelling: Children's Exploration of Ethics. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010, ISBN   0253222443
  4. Vansina, Jan: "Oral Tradition as History", 1985, James Currey Publishers, ISBN   0-85255-007-3, ISBN   978-0-85255-007-6; at page 27 and 28, where Vansina defines oral tradition as "verbal messages which are reported statements from the past beyond the present generation" which "specifies that the message must be oral statements spoken sung or called out on musical instruments only"; "There must be transmission by word of mouth over at least a generation". He points out that "Our definition is a working definition for the use of historians. Sociologists, linguists or scholars of the verbal arts propose their own, which in, e.g., sociology, stresses common knowledge. In linguistics, features that distinguish the language from common dialogue (linguists), and in the verbal arts features of form and content that define art (folklorists)".
  5. Ki-Zerbo, Joseph: "Methodology and African Prehistory", 1990, UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa; James Currey Publishers, ISBN   0-85255-091-X, 9780852550915; see Ch. 7; "Oral tradition and its methodology" at pages 54-61; at page 54: "Oral tradition may be defined as being a testimony transmitted verbally from one generation to another. Its special characteristics are that it is verbal and the manner in which it is transmitted."
  6. Henige, David. Oral, but Oral What? The Nomenclatures of Orality and Their Implications Oral Tradition, 3/1-2 (1988): 229-38. p 232; Henige cites Jan Vansina (1985). Oral tradition as history. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  7. Degh, Linda. American Folklore and the Mass Media. Bloomington:IUP, 1994, p. 31
  8. Dundes, Alan, "Editor’s Introduction" to "The Theory of Oral Composition", John Miles Foley. Bloomington, IUP, 1988, pp. ix-xii
  9. Henige, David. Oral, but Oral What? The Nomenclatures of Orality and Their Implications Oral Tradition, 3/1-2 (1988): 229-38. p 232; Henige cites Jan Vansina (1985). Oral tradition as history. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  10. 1 2 "UNC Writing Center Has Moved". www.unc.edu. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  11. Ong, Walter, S. J., "Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word". London: Methuen, 1982 p 12
  12. Keakopa, M. (1998). The role of the archivist in the collection and preservation of oral traditions. S.A. Archives Journal, 40,87-93.
  13. Dolgin, Alexander (6 October 2008). The Economics of Symbolic Exchange. Springer Science & Business Media (published 2008). p. 228. ISBN   9783540798828 . Retrieved 2014-12-03. Word of mouth can overcome the information cascade devised by marketing specialists. This is important as objective testimony to the power of the bush telegraph.
  14. "Luther asserted, 'It is the manner of the New Testament and of the gospel that it must be preached and performed by word of mouth and a living voice. Christ himself has not written anything, nor has he ordered anything to be written, but rather to be preached by word of mouth.'" Quoted in: Whitford, David M (25 September 2014). "Preaching and Worship". T&T Clark Companion to Reformation Theology. Bloomsbury Companions. Bloomsbury Publishing (published 2014). p. 161. ISBN   9780567445087 . Retrieved 2014-12-03.