chapter  13
26 Pages

Folk Song Texts as Culture Indicators

SCHOLARS and enthusiasts in the field of folk song have long believed that the orally transmitted poetry of a people, passed on by them as part of their noncritically accepted cultural heritage, might yield crucial information about their principal concerns and unique world-view. However, in spite of extensive study and collection of folk song texts, little has been done in a sys­ tematic way to test this idea. One of the very few such attempts is Sebeok's analysis of Cheremis lore (Sebeok, 1956, 1959, 1964). The present study de­ velops the hypothesis: that folk song texts, if analyzed in a systematic fashion, give clear expression to the level of cultural complexity, and a set of norms which differentiate and sharply characterize cultures.