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Understanding Oral Traditions in Literature

Understanding Oral Traditions in Literature

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Understanding Oral Traditions in Literature

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  1. Understanding Oral Traditions in Literature

  2. Achebe says: “I believe in the complexity of the human story, and that there’s no way you can tell that story in one way and say, ‘this is it.’ Always there will be someone who can tell it differently depending on where they are standing … this is the way I think the world’s stories should be told: from many different perspectives.” (“Chinua Achebe: The Art of Fiction CXXXVIV,” interviewed by Jerome Brooks in The Paris Review, Issue #133 (Winter 1994-5)

  3. If Achebe thinks people should have an open mind about who tells the world’s stories and how, what kind of viewpoint might he take on the variety of literary strategies that could be incorporated in the ways people tell stories?? Share with your neighbor. 1 minute!

  4. Another quote from Achebe…. "Since Igbo people did not construct a rigid and closely argued system of thought to explain the universe and the place of man in it, preferring the metaphor of myth and poetry, anyone seeking an insight into their world must seek it along their own way. Some of these ways are folk tales, proverbs, proper names, rituals, and festivals" ("Chi in Igbo Cosmology" 161).

  5. Oral Elements Log

  6. Let’s start with proverbs… (Remember the video? Knowledge is like the baobab tree. No one can encompass it with both hands. That’s a Senegalese PROVERB!)

  7. From Things Fall Apart… A proverb about proverbs!!! Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten (7) We’ll get some practice translating proverbs later. But, as one of the more popular quotes from the book, what are your initial thoughts on what this proverb means?

  8. So, what are proverbs exactly? (no, we’re not talking about the type of word you can substitute for a verb or a noun)

  9. 1) Write this down! Proverbs are popular sayings which contain advice or state a generally accepted truth.

  10. Because most proverbs have their origins in oral tradition, they are generally worded in such a way as to be remembered easily and tend to change little from generation to generation, so much so that sometimes their specific meaning is no longer relevant. • For instance, the proverb “penny wise, pound foolish” is a holdover from when America was a British colony and used the pound as currency.

  11. Proverbs function as “folk wisdom,” general advice about how to act and live. And because they are folk wisdom, they often strongly reflect the cultural values and physical environment from which they arise. • For instance, island cultures such as Hawaii have proverbs about the sea, Eastern cultures have proverbs about elephants, and American proverbs, many collected and published by Benjamin Franklin, are about hard work bringing success.

  12. 2) Write this down! Proverbs are often used to support arguments, to provide lessons and instruction, and to stress shared values.

  13. Proverbs are NOT clichés Clichés are widely used, even overused, phrases that are often metaphorical in nature. Clichés often have their origins in literature, television, or movies rather than in folk tradition. Some Common Clichés She was white as a sheet. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. He stood as still as a deer in the headlights. I’m as fit as a fiddle. You could read her like an open book.

  14. Some Common Features of Proverbs Proverbs are passed down through time with little change in form. Proverbs are often used metaphorically and it is in understanding their metaphorical nature that we can unravel their meaning. While “a stitch in time saves nine,” “don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched,” and “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” are common proverbs, few of us stitch clothes, count chickens, or throw out bathwater. Proverbs often make use of grammatical and rhetorical devices that help make them memorable, including alliteration, rhyme, parallel structure, repetition of key words or phrases, and strong imagery.

  15. A few American proverbs you might be familiar with… A fool and his money are soon parted. Birds of a feather flock together. Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched. One today is worth two tomorrows. Look before you leap. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. All’s well that ends well. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. A stitch in time saves nine. • Don't put all your eggs in one basket. • Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. • The early bird gets the worm. • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. • A stitch in time saves nine. • A penny saved is a penny earned. • Penny wise, pound foolish. • Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. • A friend in need is a friend indeed. • A drop of honey catches more flies than a hogshead of vinegar.

  16. Which of the proverbs on the left mean the same as these sentences? Choose 21. It is not a good idea to decide if a thing is good or bad just by how it appears at first or by its outward appearance. 2. When a bad thing happens there is always a positive aspect to it. 3. If you don't see someone for a long time you like them better. 4. When you are in a strange place (temporarily) it is better to follow the local customs. 5. You should be happy with what you have got even if it is less than what you want. 6. In many areas in life if you do not confront a problem when it starts it can deteriorate rapidly therefore it is much better to act soon. 7. This proverb was probably written by someone who owns his own house and doesn't stay up all night dancing. 8. Don't become very upset by trivialities. 9. Don't take risks. 3) Use your list of proverbs to complete the activity!

  17. Explain one of the proverbs to your neighbor. See if he can guess which proverb you are referring to (do not say the proverb in your explanation). 4) Use your list of proverbs to complete the activity!

  18. Try to decide which proverb could help you express yourself in the following situations.Choose 11. You make an appointment with your chiropodist for 6pm. You arrive at 6.15. He complains that he has been waiting for 15 minutes. What would you say? 2. Your boss calls you into his office to ask you why you haven't finished the task that he asked you to do earlier and he complains that you are slow. What would you say to him? (you are being cheeky) 3. Your best friend gets married to a very ugly fat person who has a very kind, pleasant personality. Your spouse asks you how he could have possibly married her. What would you say? 4. Your friend smokes 60 cigarettes a day. He has a bad cough and he is always whining (complaining) that he would like to give up smoking. You offer to pay for expensive residential anti-smoking therapy. He says that he doesn't want to do it because he will miss his favorite television serial. What do you think to yourself? 5) Use your list of proverbs to complete the activity!

  19. In other cultures… Proverbs in one culture are frequently similar to proverbs expressed in other cultures. For instance, the French "Qui vole un oeuf vole un boeuf" translates to "He who steals eggs steals cattle"; but you, as an American, will likely be more familiar with the American proverb "Give him an inch and he'll take a mile."

  20. Proverbs from around the World The first day you meet, you are friends. The next day you meet, you are brothers. — Afghan proverb A coral reef strengthens into land. – Hawaiian proverb Those who are choosy often pick the worst. – Ilocano proverb (Philippines) Experience is the comb that nature gives us when we are bald. – Belgian proverb A stranger nearby is better than a far-away relative. – Korean proverb Don't think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm. – Malayan proverb Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough, but not baked in the same oven. – Yiddish proverb In a battle between elephants, the ants get squashed. – Thai proverb In a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins his case. – Rwandan proverb Little by little, the camel goes into the couscous. -Moroccan proverb When a dove begins to associate with crows its feathers remain white but its heart grows black. – German

  21. Now, let’s practice translating some proverbs from Things Fall Apart……

  22. Folktales and Fables

  23. Turn to a neighbor and tell them your favorite fable, if you know one. . Do you like it because of the story? Characters? Moral?

  24. Vocabulary ReviewFill in the worksheet fable: a fictitious story meant to teach a lesson. The characters in fables are usually animals genre: a type of literature oral tradition: the handing down of stories from generation to generation through the spoken word interpretation: a person's expression of the meaning of something; this can be done through dance, art, and drama folklore: the traditional beliefs, sayings, legends, customs of a people personification: a figure of speech in which a thing, quality, or idea is represented as a person moral: a lesson, usually regarding right or wrong , taught by a fable setting: the location and/or time the story take place evolve: to develop, to unfold, to grow, to change spellbinding: holding one's attention, fascinating, enchanting

  25. Key Features of Fables Fables are considered a genre of literature and come from the oral tradition of storytelling found in folklorearound the world. Fables are a special kind of tale. In most fables, animal characters act like humans (personification). Usually, a fable teaches a specific moral. To appreciate and understand a fable, it is useful to hear it more than once. The first time, you enjoy the story. The second time, you can study the characters and find the lesson taught about human nature. Storytellers told fables over and over again. As they were retold over the years, they evolved in content, emphasis, and style.

  26. Lets read a fable from Africa together and try to understand the moral…. http://www.afro.com/children/myths/wind/page1.html

  27. Let’s practice reading some Western fables….. *Who was Aesop? Aesop was a slave who lived in 6th century bc Greece. He compiled a collection of fables, many of which he wrote himself. These fables were passed on through history via oral tradition. The collection, called Aesop’s Fables, is one of the most famous in Western history. • Get into groups of four-each group take four fables from the stack • Read each fable for your group separately and then decide what the moral is as a group • Select one fable from your set for which you think you have the best interpretation • We will reconvene as a class and each group will read their fable and share their moral-after they have shared we will compare the group’s interpretation with what Aesop* said

  28. The Horse and the Stag (28). The Lion and the Bulls (30). The Ant and the Dove (36). The One-Eyed Doe (37). The Lion and the Dolphin (39). The Hawk and the Pigeons (44). The Hen and the Fox (49). The Cat and the Mice (51). The Eagle the Wildcat, and the Sow (61). The Fox and the Stork (67). The Hares and the Frogs (79). The Cock and the Fox (81). The Eagle and the Fox (82). Aesop’s Fables: Which one will you interpret? • The Tortoise and the Eagle (170). • The Vain Crow (190). • The Monkey and the Dolphin (198). • The Mouse and the Weasel (202). • The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat (214). • The Stag and the Vine (233). • The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2). • The Fox and the Crow (5). • The Ant and the Grasshopper (12). • The Mice in Council (13). • The Fox and the Goat (15). • The Hare and the Hound (21). • The Hare with Many Friends (19). • The House Dog and the Wolf (22). • The Goose with the Golden Eggs (25).

  29. The End

  30. Resources and References • http://www.afro.com/children/myths/myths.html • Readwritethink.org