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What can you make out of the word oral narrative? And what are the characteristics of Oral narratives before you? Oral is something that is spoken and not written.

You may not know this, but narratives are another word for a story! So, an oral narrative is a story that has just been told and not written down. A narrative is a verbal or written language that recounts places, people, and events.

The oral narrative is a genre belonging to oral literature. A narrative can be non-fictional, or it could be fictional. To make your understanding better, an oral narrative is a story that is handed down from generation to generation, and these stories are spoken and not written down.

People have been telling different stories since the beginning of time. You still get to hear some stories that are said to be thousands of years old. These stories were told even before writing was invented. So how did they last for such long years? They were told from generation to generation.

Parents told different stories to their children, and when these children grew up, they said the same story to their children. The cycle went on and on, and the thousand-year-old oral narratives became a part of our society today.

However, you will notice that now these oral narratives have been written down. They are written down so that it seems someone is telling a story to keep the essence of these very ancient oral narratives.

There are different categories of oral narratives, for example; Myths, Legends, Ogre or monster stories, Trickster stories, Etiological Narratives, Dilemmas stories, Fables, Spirit tales, Allegory.

7 Characteristics of Oral Narratives

7 Characteristics of Oral Narratives infographic

Let’s get this reading a little more interesting. We will tell you interesting facts about different types of oral narratives to get you a better understanding. So let’s begin this ride!

1. Characteristics of a Myth

Myths deal with origins i.e., they tell us about the source of people or the origin of death. The most exciting part of the myth is that it tells us about supernatural beings. It makes us question if they exist in reality. Myths can talk about the stories of how the world came into being.

The characters in a myth are often supernatural beings, gods, goddesses, the first people, etc. The plot of these stories involves the previous world, which was thousands of years ago. Myths tell us about a story that has events that break the natural law of life and earth. Some examples of classic myths are the pandora box and Pele and Hi’iaka. However, you can relate better to the modern-day myths: avengers, superman, lord of the rings, the game of thrones!

So, do you believe that there is a reality in the myths told to us by our forefathers?

Or are they just oral narratives to make life more enjoyable?

2. Characteristics of Legends

A legend is about an extraordinary person known to participate and stand out in some historical event. A code might be a real person, but there is a chance that stories related to that person might be some images of a person or their expertise is exaggerated. These stories were told to one another to motivate people. When told these stories to youth, they get motivated and charged to do something of their own. You can say stories of legends are told, so they create more legends!

Some of the examples of legends that you must have heard of are; the loch ness monster, Fumo Liyonga, Bigfoot, Luanda Magere, Wangu wa Maker, Atlantis, Kraken, and many, many more.

Some of the legends’ facts are stories from histories, and the features told in these oral narratives are the real ones. However, exaggeration is typical in all of them, and you can always tell that because they seem like a movie. Usually, the legend’s birth or death is a mystery, but the events can easily be related to the real world we live in, so these oral narratives seem real!

3. Characteristics of Ogre and Monster Stories

Characteristics of Oral Narratives

Ogre is said to be a monster that represents evil, and in these stories, they are always destroyed in the end. After that, everyone lives happily ever after. The most exciting part of the ogre stories is their appearance. Ogres are said to have tall, large, and inhuman bodies. They have vast and disproportionate heads and have lots and lots of hair. They have a healthy body, and they eat humans for food.

You can recall many movies you have seen that have ogres as characters when you think about it. They are mostly the villains in the stories. However, can you recall one movie that showed the ogre as a positive character? Yes! Shrek was an ogre too, but the filmmakers have added a twist in nature and made him loving and caring, making us believe that ogres can be good also.

So, what do you think? Judging from the ogre stories we have heard, do you think they existed in real-time, or are these just oral narratives created by mothers to make their children sleep at night?

4. Characteristics of a Trickster Story

In these stories, the character is smart, cunning, and charming. This character cons their way to get what they want. A trickster questions the rules of society and makes sure that they break them. They are fond of mocking and boasting and playing tricks on both gods and men.

They steal food, and precious possessions belonging to other people, or they can cause mischief to disrupt the ordinary course of people’s lives. However, their stories are exciting and entertaining. They talk about cruelty, kindness, deceiving, and breaking taboos.

What do you think is why people told the trickster stories? Did they ask them to create more tricksters? Or did they tell these stories to their children to communicate that they did not have to follow in these footsteps?

Characteristics of Oral Narratives

5. Etiological Narratives

As the name states, etiological narratives explain a particular phenomenon or its origin. When you see someone talk about the basis of something or answering the question, how or when a specific thing came into being is an etiological narrative!

Why does the rainbow appear in the sky? According to the etiological narratives, the Greek god Iris uses the rainbow as a way of transportation. Iris’s travels are unpredictable as the rainbow itself. Pretty impressive, no?

Why are rabbits’ tails so short? This narrative goes back centuries when rabbits had long tails. One day the rabbit decided to cross the river and tricked the tortoises into helping him by complimenting them. However, before he crossed the whole river, he wanted to boast about his achievement and told the tortoises’ that he was only using them. The last tortoise bit the rabbit, which cut off its tail. Since then, tortoises have had short seats.

You will be surprised to know that you can find such descriptive narratives for simple questions like ‘how’ and ‘when.’

6. Dilemma Stories

A dilemma story allows the audience to think about and then comment on the story that had previously posed a problem. It makes the audience wonder about the different possibilities the character can make. It helps in giving an insight into the character’s life to the audience. These stories are interesting because the audience keeps on wondering what choices the name will make. In their minds, they get to decide the surface’s preferences, helping them relate to the story on a personal level.

Do you think dilemma stories can help you understand your life better when you relate to them?

7. Fables

Fables are short stories that aim to give a lesson or a moral in the end. Most adventures use animals as characters. You will see these animals talking and communicating like humans. These stories are built mostly for children and can be closely related to fairy tales.

They are a great way to teach children about the things they are supposed to do and the things they aren’t.

So, what do you think about the different kinds of oral narratives we discussed? Do you think hearing about them has been helpful, or they are of no use? Do you think they make life more attractive, or do they not matter?

If you need more information about the Characteristics of Oral Narratives, you can contact us.

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