Taking a class called oral traditions. If you gather six people, giving the first person a detailed message which that person must pass along. By the time it got to the sixth person it wasn't the original message. How would you analyze it?

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Analyzing oral traditions or oral presentations present several problematic issues. The main problem is how the original oral presentation changes to its current translated form. With each successive telling, some alteration and deviation from the original story are inevitable. It is human nature to modify, exaggerate, or add a personal...

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Analyzing oral traditions or oral presentations present several problematic issues. The main problem is how the original oral presentation changes to its current translated form. With each successive telling, some alteration and deviation from the original story are inevitable. It is human nature to modify, exaggerate, or add a personal spin in retelling the stories!

Different fields approach the problem of how replication distorts the original differently. For example, one approach of someone using a linguistic methodology is that they might compare the lingual styles over time, to see if a significant alteration of the meaning has occurred. For example, if you read the original version of the King James Bible and compare it with today's modern version, the language style is very different. The analysis becomes focused on determining if the change in language changes the meaning and original intent of the oral tradition.

Using a historical perspective is another method to compensate for the problem of replication. Historians analyze the meaning of an oral tradition in the context of that period of history. Lingual changes relate to the time of the presentation. A historian uses the clues provided by the changes in language to place in historical context the significance of an oral tradition. Deviations from the original oral presentation explain why the story continues at a later date. Historians overlay the oral tradition with cultural and ethnographic interpretation to derive meaning. Oral traditions and stories are one piece of the historical puzzle a historian uses to analyze past events.

There are several other approaches to analyzing oral traditions and presentations. Understanding why the story originates and how the story changes over time is a part of all the methods. Interpreting the cultural significance of an oral tradition is another part. The part that can not be left out is an oral tradition surviving many generations of storytellers plays an large role in how members of a group identify with and are represented in their culture.

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