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Title : The Status of Oral Folk Tale Narration in Contemporary Phreah Theat Thmor Da Village
Type : Master Degree Thesis
File Size : 824 KB (PDF)
Language : English
Author : Mr. Than Bunly


The topic of this thesis is “The Status of Oral Folktale Narration in Contemporary Phreah Theat Thmor Da Village”. This research was conducted primarily in Phreah Theat Thmor Da village with 31 informants, in February 2004. The major aim of this research was to ascertain the status of oral narration in the countryside today. The research questions for this work were: Are people in the countryside today still interested in the oral tradition? Who are the main tellers of stories? Do they transmit these to the next generation? How have folktales been narrated in this village?

Major findings included: that the definition of folktales perceived by villagers is different from scholars, in that villagers see folktale in a wider sense, including oral and written literature such as, sastra lpaeng, jataka. All stories that were orally narrated are known by them as roeung preng.

Today people in the village still know their local legends but there is little transmission of these legends. The male informants who could tell local legends in more detail than others are old men age 70-89. They are acchar, elders in the village and from the other nearby villages. Most of the local legends have been transmitted continuously by the previous acchar or the elder in the village. The pagoda is still the main place for keeping the traditions not only religious but also some oral traditions; however, monks are not the main transmitters of local legends. The next generations do not know their local legends. The problem facing us today is the possible disappearance of local legends as the elders die and some others loose their memories.

Besides local legends, the villagers today still tell other folktales. Oral folktale narration is weaker than in the past but is still unbroken. Some folktales live in everyday expressions used by the villagers. They play an important role for entertainment and a didactic role also- the example of one’s experience. The means of transmitting folktales compared to the past has also changed. This study found that Cambodian people could hear stories from different narrators, in different times, places, or circumstances. Some hear the stories orally; others hear the stories through the performing arts, books, and other mass media. These reflect the ways in which Cambodian folktales have been transmitted. We also found that there could be different versions of a story within the same village, if compare the story to oral narration in other places, to a text version, or manuscript. This study seems to have attracted the village’s interest in their local legends, encouraging them to record and transmit what they remembered for the next generation.

Some recommendations for further research include interviews in other villages to determine whether these findings are applicable to more than one village and encouraging interest in collecting the same as translating folktales from any remaining oral tradition in Cambodia.

Source: Buddhist Institute of Cambodia