Textualization Strategies, Typological Attempts, Digital Databases: What is the Future of the Comparative Charm Scholarchip?

Pp. 37-77

  • Emese Ilyefalvi
Keywords: comparative methods, computational folkloristics, digital databases, digital editions, dimensions of comparability (Honko), international charm index, textualization of verbal charms, typology


In the article I present an overview of transformations in approaches to textualizing and typologizing folklore texts over the past 150 years using the example of incantations from anthologies to digital databases with a view to highlighting the new horizons digital databases can open up for research. In the first part of the article, I show how the textological characteristics of the incantation genre and the often implicit questions of researchers influenced the textological strategies of classic incantation editions. These primarily typological considerations largely determined subsequent potential interpretations. Using the dimensions of comparability established by Lauri Honko (phenomenology of tradition, the historicity of tradition, and ecology of tradition) I summarize recent attempts at classification by international folklore studies of charms pointing out the pitfalls and shortcomings of typologies as well as the fundamental incompatibility of the different typological conceptualizations. In the second part of the article, after briefly describing the responses of computational folkloristics to the textological, typological and comparatist problems of folklore texts I come to the conclusion that the elaboration of an international guide to textology, standardizing the textualization techniques of digital editions of incantations, would be more important for comparative studies than the creation of further national and international incantation catalogues. To this end and to generate discussion and debate I conclude with the outline of a set of possible multidimensional textological features to be taken into consideration in the creation of future digital databases of verbal charms.