The girl and seven calves: Observations on the language of a north-yemenite fairytale

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This essay analyzes a fairytale which was told orally by a Jewish narrator from North Yemen. The dramatic scenes of the story involve an adorable young girl, a heartless stepmother, a ghoul, and seven lost brothers who go through various transformations and magic manifestations. These, as well as many other elements of the plot, match universal motifs familiar from folk tales throughout the world. At the same time, the story echoes the realia of life in the villages of North Yemen and stands out as a local Yemenite ecotype. Beside the full annotated text, the article offers a synopsis and elaborates on the specific Yemenite frame of reference. The language of the narrative demonstrates the native, daily speech of the province of Sa'dah. The article elaborates on several linguistic features which occur in the text, discusses them within the context of the annotated text, and also demonstrates them by comparable examples from a large corpus of other Yemenite recordings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)295-322
Number of pages28
JournalZeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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