(the word)
   Writing in The Athenaeum on 22 August 1846, the antiquarian W. J. * Thoms invited readers to record 'the manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs ... of olden time ... what we in England designate as Popular Antiquities or Popular Literature (though by-the-by it is more a Lore than a Literature, and would be more aptly described by a good Saxon compound, Folk-Lore - the Lore of the People).' The word thus casually tossed out caught on, and has been adopted into many other languages; its crispness is an advantage, but its implications pose problems. Until recently, 'folk' was not used inclusively, but restricted to lower-class and relatively uneducated rural communities, whose life was thought to be static, untainted by urban sophistication, and thus likely to preserve archaic items. Tradition was defined as information or custom handed on unchanged over many generations; the present was of little interest in itself, only valued as a pointer to the past. 'Lore' too was a restrictive concept; it covered oral genres, beliefs, and behaviour, excluding all that comprises material culture: crafts, tools, working practices, buildings, furnishings, decorative arts, etc.
   These points show up plainly in Charlotte Burne's definition in The Handbook of Folk-Lore (1913), 1:
   The word ... [is] the generic term under which the traditional Beliefs, Customs, Stories, Songs and Sayings current among backward peoples, or retained by the uncultured classes of more advanced peoples, are comprehended and included In short, it covers everything which makes part of the mental equipment of the folk as distinguished from their technical skill. It is not the form of the plough which excites the attention of the folklorist, but the rites practised by the ploughman when putting it into the soil . . .
   It was not till the 1950s and 1960s that these assumptions were widely questioned in England. The mould was then decisively broken through the work of the *Opies on present-day *child-lore, the discovery of *contemporary legends, and a change of direction among those studying customs and performance genres to take account of their social, economic, and functional aspects.
   The present authors see folklore as something voluntarily and informally communicated, created or done by members of a group (which can be of any size, age, or social and educational level); it can circulate through whatever media (oral, written or visual) are available to this group; it has roots in the past, but also present relevance; it usually recurs in many places, in similar but not quite identical form; it has both stable and variable features, and evolves through dynamic adaptation to new circumstances. The essential criterion is the presence of a group whose joint sense of what is right and appropriate shapes the story, performance, or custom - not the rules and teachings of any official body (State or civic authority, Church, school, scientific or scholarly orthodoxy).
   ■ Boyes, 1993; Gillian Bennett, Oral History 4 (1993), 77-91.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • Folklore — Sf Volkstümliches (in Kleidung, Musik usw.) std. (19. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus ne. folklore, eigentlich Volkskunde . Das Wort wurde 1846 von W. J. Thomas als zusammenfassende Bezeichnung für die Volksüberlieferungen gebildet. Der erste… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

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  • Folklore — Folk lore , n., or Folk lore Folk lore . Tales, legends, or superstitions long current among the people; the unwritten literature of a culture, such as stories, proverbs, riddles and songs. Trench. [1913 Webster + WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Folklore — (engl., spr. fōk lōr, »Wissen des Volks«), s. Volkskunde …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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  • folklore — index myth Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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