From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"The popular ballads, or cantilènes, as French writers have styled them, where the exploits of the great Charles were sung and handed down from his own to later days, formed at once the basis of the longer chansons de geste and of such spurious relations as Turpin's Chronicle. Wholly distinct from sober history, as recorded in works such as Eginhart's "Memoir of Charlemagne," written in Latin, and therefore accessible to but few, they were composed in the language of the people, uncommitted to writing, and consequently subject to all the diversifying and differentiating influences of oral tradition."--History of Fiction (1814) by John Colin Dunlop
Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural material is received, preserved, and transmitted orally from one generation to another. The transmission is through speech or song and may include folktales, ballads, chants, prose or poetry. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledge across generations without a writing system, or in parallel to a writing system. Religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, and Jainism, for example, have used an oral tradition, in parallel to a writing system, to transmit their canonical scriptures, rituals, hymns and mythologies from one generation to the next.
Oral tradition is information, memories, and knowledge held in common by a group of people, over many generations; it is not the same as testimony or oral history.
As an academic discipline, it refers both to a set of objects of study and the method by which they are studied.
The study of oral tradition is distinct from the academic discipline of oral history, which is the recording of personal memories and histories of those who experienced historical eras or events. Oral tradition is also distinct from the study of orality, defined as thought and its verbal expression in societies where the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to most of the population. A folklore is a type of oral tradition, but knowledge other than folklore has been orally transmitted and thus preserved in human history.
- American Indian elder
- Folk process
- Intangible culture
- Oral history
- Oral law
- Oral Torah
- Oral-formulaic composition
- Patha, Śrauta
- Secondary orality
- Traditional knowledge
- Understanding Media