chapter  17
7 Pages

The Genetic Code and the Mechanisms of Morphological Change

Features of the archaic and seminal type of the folk riddle tries to reconstruct from its recorded state, in other words, its genetic code, belong to two different and relatively independent levels: the atomic level which is constituted by the core stock of lexical motifs that are used by a given oral tradition, and the molecular level which is comprised by morphological, structural properties. Taylor must have gathered some of that in the diversity of the riddle's forms, judging by his notion of degeneration. But the rationalist prejudice could not allow him to see the inner mechanism of the riddle's evolution. As Taylor correctly observed, it is articulated with the help of a mixed description, comprised of two heterogeneous ones that effect two very different attitudes in a respondent: the first, metaphoric, refers to a human being, the second, literal, describes an object incompatible with the idea of a man.