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Kentucky Folklore

Kentucky Folklore

R. Gerald Alvey
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 64
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  • Book Info
    Kentucky Folklore
    Book Description:

    " Thicker'n fiddlers in hell. Independent as a hog on ice. If a bride makes her own clothes, it's bad luck. It'll snow in May if it thunders in February. How's a hen on a fence like a penny? What's the reddest side of an apple? Learn what folklore and folk culture are and enjoy a generous helping of sayings, rhymes, songs, tall tales, superstitions and riddles from Kentucky.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3632-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 7-7)
    Ramona Lumpkin

    The New Books for New Readers project was made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kentucky Humanities Council, andThe Kentucky Post.The co-sponsorship and continuing assistance of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and the Kentucky Literacy Commission have been essential to our undertaking. We are also grateful for the advice and support provided to us by the University Press of Kentucky. All these agencies share our commitment to the important role that reading books should play in the lives of the people of our state, and their belief in this project has...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 8-8)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 9-12)

    This book is about folk culture and folklore in Kentucky. Before talking about folk culture, we need to understand what culture is. Culture is a body of knowledge shared by a group of people. It is also how they learn or acquire that knowledge and how they express that knowledge with one another. Culture includes the way people talk, dress, cook, eat, and act. Culture includes people’s beliefs about God and the supernatural, and how they view themselves and other people. Culture also includes all the material objects people create, such as barns, fences, houses, quilts, and musical instruments.


  6. Folk Speech
    (pp. 13-24)

    People sometimes say Kentuckians talk funny. What they don’t know is that Kentuckians may think outsiders sound funny. The truth is, neither talks funny. They just talk in a different way.

    For example, the common term “you-all” is not just a Kentucky term. “You-all” is heard all over the South. Sometimes even people outside the South say it. As far as grammar is concerned, “you-all” is perfectly correct. But people in different places say “you-all” in different ways. In some places, people stress both words the same—“you-all.” In other places people jam both words together—“y’all” or even “yawl.”...

  7. Proverbs and Other Expressions
    (pp. 25-30)

    Kentuckians have many interesting proverbs and folk expressions. A proverb is a traditional folk saying that is supposed to contain the wisdom of ages of experience. Many of them are in theBible,in the Book of Proverbs.

    People usually say a proverb to someone to be helpful, but using proverbs is really like preaching. That is, a proverb is used to correct or warn someone about something. In a way, then, to tell others a proverb is like meddling in their business or giving smug advice.

    For example, one of your friends is on the outs with his wife...

  8. Riddles and Puzzles
    (pp. 31-36)

    A riddle is another kind of traditional folklore Kentuckians like to use. Riddles are usually humorous and are often told as a game. The idea is to see if you can outwit someone by asking a riddle he or she can’t answer.

    Before the arrival of TV, radio, and the movies, adult Kentuckians told riddles for fun. But riddles also are a form of teaching and mental exercise. Today, riddles are usually told by school children. Even children’s riddles still teach. You can really sharpen your wits and mind by guessing riddles.

    There are all kinds of riddles. Some riddles...

  9. Folk Rhymes
    (pp. 37-43)

    Some of the first rhymes Kentuckians use are children’s rhymes. Here are two versions of an all-time favorite:

    Roses are red, Roses are red,

    Violets are blue, Violets are blue,

    Sugar is sweet, Your mother’s Pretty‚

    And so are you. But what happened to you?

    There are many versions of this “roses are red” rhyme. Many of them are put in school yearbooks, autograph books, and so forth.

    Kentucky yearbooks and autograph books are full of folk rhymes. Here are three favorites of Kentucky children:

    I seen you in the ocean,

    I seen you in the sea,

    I seen you...

  10. Customs, Beliefs, and Superstitions
    (pp. 44-50)

    Since we have just talked about epitaphs, let’s talk about death customs in Kentucky. Stopping your car for a funeral procession is a widespread Kentucky folk custom to show respect. No law says you must pull over and stop for a funeral procession, but nearly everyone does. This shows the power of traditional folk customs in our lives. We obey such unwritten rules just as if they were the official laws of elite culture. Some Kentuckians also follow many other folk customs about death.

    For example, some people stop all the clocks in the house when someone dies. Some people...

  11. Folk Songs
    (pp. 51-54)

    A special Kentucky folk celebration is the Big Singing Day held at Benton on the last Sunday in May. This folk custom is over one hundred years old. People from all over the country gather together to sing religious songs. Singing folk songs of all kinds, religious or not, is a popular folk custom all over Kentucky.

    Beyond any doubt, the most popular religious folk song in Kentucky is “Amazing Grace.” Here is the first stanza.

    A-maz-ing Grace, how sweet the sound,

    That saved a wretch like me.

    I once was lost, but now I’m found,

    Was blind, but now...

  12. Folktales
    (pp. 55-60)

    Probably the most popular kind of folktale in Kentucky is the joke. Here is a good example of a widespread joke.

    Oncet there was this here lazy man a-layin’ on th’ river bank a- fishin’. His pole was stuck in th’ bank so’s he wouldn’t have ta hold it. ‘Long comes a preacher. Th’ preacher sees there’s a fish jest a- tuggin’ at th’ line. Preacher says, “Hey, you got a fish.” Th’ lazy man asks th’ preacher ta haul th’ fish in an’ put some new bait on th’ hook. Well th’ preacher does that an’ says, “You’re so...

  13. About the Author
    (pp. 61-79)