Laography and lexicography, or finding folklore in the dictionaries

Jonathan Roper (University of Tartu)
William Pooley (University of Bristol)
Jonathan Roper, William Pooley, Lisa Winer
Ülikooli 16, 102
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Short abstract:

Many details of folklore and folklife are buried within the pages of dialect and national dictionaries. This panel examines examples of this phenomenon, and how we might use this data.

Long abstract:

One of the many consequences of the interaction of philology and the study of folklore especially in the long nineteenth century is that dictionaries are often are repositories of folkloric data. Examples range from Feilberg in Jutland and Dahl in Russia, to Wright in England and Halbertsma in Friesland, not forgetting the Brothers Grimm themselves. And the data they contain ranges from minor verbal genres, such as phrases, riddles and charms, to descriptions of ritual, folk life and ethnographic objects. But the overlap between laography and lexicography, between folklore and dictionaries, is not exclusively located in such 'classical' dictionaries, many humble regional glossaries also are freighted with local knowledge, at the same time as they walk the interesting ideological line between region and nation in this age of nationalism. Similarly, judicious use of historical dictionaries, such as the Middle English Dictionary or the Grimms' own Deutsches Wörterbuch, can also add to our understanding, or provide antedatings. This panel is meant for the discussion of the phenomenon of dictionaries as a source of folkloric data as a whole in a comparative light and to assess the usefulness of the data to be found in dictionaries. It will include discussion of how the composite, cannibalized nature of many such dictionaries affects the data they contain, and how we might identify the individuals (or types of individuals) the data was known to, and to suggest routes for future research.