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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Comprising the briefest kinds of folklore, the category folk speech (including traditional nonoral “speech” like some gestures and conventions of electronic communication) is often misconstrued. Because folklore consists of consciously performed “texts,” folk speech cannot include words or pronunciations that normally—unconsciously—characterize a given speaker’s regional, social, or ethnic dialect. Many “classic” glossaries that folklorists cite in discussing folk speech are largely concerned, rather, with dialect or with argot specific to an occupation. As with other genres of folklore, folk speech is motivated by a wish to affirm one’s membership in a folk group, but folk speech can also feature an individual speaker’s wit, creativity, even originality. The desire to certify one’s “belonging” to a group can take the form of verbally derogating other groups or disfavored members of one’s own group.

Keywords: folklore, slang, dialect, ethnicity, gestures, insults, linguistics, names

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