Each of us has probably heard, in childhood, folk tales such as Pei-Chhat-Chhit (白賊七or “Chhit, the Liar”), Ho‧-Go‧-Po (虎姑婆 or “The Vicious Aunty Tiger”), and the like, told by our mothers, aunts or elders; we might have listened to the recitation of ballads, such as Hoe-Kim-ChhiN (火金星or “The Firefly”), Goe-Kng-Kng (月光光 or “The Shining Moon”), and so on. 1 However, these interesting and heart-warming stories and ballads have been fading away, little by little, as those able to tell or recite the folklore have grown fewer and fewer. Additionally, although there are still some able to tell or sing the lore, there are no longer many willing to listen. In short, folk literature appears in the form of tales and ballads with which we grow familiar in childhood, but what is the importance of folk literature? What is its scope? What follows introduces the reader to a particular tradition of oral folk literature.
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I. How to Understand Folk Literature?
Many people talk about literature, yet few have heard of
“folk literature” in Taiwan. Indeed, some may ask whether there
is any literature among these folk. The terms “folk” and
“literature” seem to compound something strange, simply because
in Chinese the word “literature” refers to written language that
is composed of works arousing thought and reflections....(continue)
II. The Importance of Folk Literature
There were large scale collections of folk literature in
Europe at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of
the nineteenth century, which exerted tremendous influences on
various European cultures and arts—especially their literature....(continue)
III. The Scope of Folk Literature
n what follows I list some of the contents and features of
folk literature. Before doing so, I would emphasize again that
oral literature is folk literature, that is, literature handed
down through oral traditions, in the telling....(continue)
The difference between folk literature and written literature
lies in the fact that the latter requires a unique creativity on
the part of the writer himself. The text of the written
literature is unchangeable, while no one knows who the author of
a folk tale is,....(continue)
phonetic spelling system adopted here to translate the
Taiwanese language（Tai-oan-oe [臺灣話]，Ho-lo-oe [福佬話, the Fukienese Dialect] or Ban-lam-oe [閩南話,the Southern Ming Dialect]）is that of the Taiwanese Romanization alphabets used by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan since the nineteenth century. The major reason for the adoption is due to the fact that the Taiwanese Romanization alphabets are widely used to transcribe the Bible and the hymn, and to publish the weekly, dictionaries, and so on. The publications by the Taiwanese Romanization alphabets have conserved most of the literature of the Taiwanese language up to the present. And it should be noted that Taiwanese languages, in the broadest sense, includes Ho-lo-oe, Hakka dialect, Mandarin Chinese, and the twelve dialects of the aborigines, which belong to the Polynesian linguistic family.