Šibolet: Mehanizem jezikovnega razločevanja kot pripovedni motiv
Shibboleth: A Mechanism of Language Differentiation as a Narrative Folklore Motif

Ambrož Kvartič

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/sms.v19i0.6626


In all of its manifestations, narrative folklore is one of the most important vehicles of articulation of collective identification, when said identification is based on a distinction between Us and Others. Furthermore, narrative folklore exhibits various motifs pointing to and stressing language differences between said social and cultural identity constructs. This is clearly visible when a special mechanism of language differentiation – the shibboleth – occurs. This is an element of and within language system, selected arbitrarily – it can be a word, a gesture, a phoneme – that becomes a discriminatory symbol of one‘s identity of Otherness. An individual who is unable to pronounce the chosen word is symbolically (and in narratives also literally) killed. This article presents examples of narrative folklore from Slovenia and other parts of the world, wherein the mechanism of shibboleth is employed.


shibboleth; Otherness; language differentiation; identity; narrative folklore; contemporary legends

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/sms.v19i0.6626


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