Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Redefining Folklore

Folklore was always somewhat mystical to me. I used to think that folklore was restricted to stories of the past. I also wrongly thought that it was contained to certain non-urban cultures and mostly from people of ethnic background. I am pleased to learn that I take place in my culture’s folklore. Folklore or folk culture is spread through direct contact, usually from family or peers. It can be shared in three ways. The three genres of folklore are verbal folklore, material folklore and customary lore. Verbal folklore is something that is very prevalent in my Mexican-American subculture. Something that was used in our family is the use of naming practices. In my family, the grandfather chooses the first name. The middle name is a saint name chosen by the child at their confirmation. They have two last names, the first the paternal name and the second the mother’s last name, usually marked by the initial. For example my grandfather’s name is Aquileo Guadalupe Reyes H. When he moved to America, he dropped the maternal last name. We all have legal American names, but are well aware of our “Mexican” names.
I think it is important to understand the traditional culture of your family. Knowing the naming techniques of my family gives me a valuable insight to the folklore of my family. It gives me a connection to the past and makes it more apt that I will continue my family traditions into the future. Verbal folklore is important in creating connections as well. I believe of the three genres, it is the most engaging and creates the most long-lasting connection between family members. Verbal folklore covers a wide variety of types including traditional phrases, jokes, stories, traditional prayers, folk songs and many other verbal interactions.
There are other questions that still arise regarding verbal folklore. First of all, if these stories are written down and passed on as an heirloom is still considered verbal or does it cross into material or customary. I am interested in learning the effects of technology on folklore. Is it helping to continue folk culture or impeding it by making families less close and less likely to pass on verbal folklore? I am excited to learn about specific folklore and hopefully more stories from fellow classmates.