chapter  14
6 Pages

Modes of Teasing and the Psychology of Riddling

Riddles of the mischievous and neutralized kinds illuminate the hidden nature of the normal kind. Placing a concrete riddle in one of the above three categories might be, to a degree, arbitrary, but the typological distinctions of the tendencies that articulate the riddle, of the riddlers attitudes and of the kind of fun they have is not to be missed. Essential for the fun the folk riddle pokes is its teasing character. Teasing affects the personal involvement of the participants in riddling events. The sexual content is presented in the description of such a riddle in a suggestive, seemingly unequivocal manner so that one is caught embarrassingly unprepared for an innocuous answer. If we open the earlier collections of German and Russian folk riddles, we cannot fail to notice that they appear not only richer in items with more or less transparent sexual content than later ones, but riddles of this kind also look more poetic and archaic.