chapter  5
3 Pages

The Folk Riddle: Genus and Species

Differentiation between the genres within the broad class of riddles and further discrimination between forms within the genre of folk riddle was one of the main interests among the folklorists in the 19 century. The folk riddle, in the pre-structuralist period, was understood precisely as the metaphoric riddle whose assumed rationality was admittedly elusive. Even pointing to the usage of metaphor as a defining property of the genus of folk riddle encompasses a range of its species. Differentiation between the genres within the broad class of riddles and further discrimination between forms within the genre of folk riddle was one of the main interests among the folklorists in the 19th century. Not all genres of riddle were considered equally valuable. A higher value was placed on the kind of riddle that is distinct from such rational forms as verbal rebus, verbal charade, and arithmetical brain-twister, question requiring a witty answer or a pun.