Basic information
Researchers involved:
Drago Bokal (University of Maribor)
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1 May 2010–30 April 2013

Until recently folklore forms were the most neglected research field of Slovenian literary folkloristics. For several years, systematic attention has therefore been devoted to the most representative genre - proverbs. After publishing a study on their collecting and first reflections on them, systematic copying from old sources started (dictionaries, grammars, museum collections, 19th-century newspapers, manuscript collections in the National and University Library, older and modern Slovenian literature, seminar papers and degree dissertations at the Departments of Slovenian Studies and Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana). We strove to collect contemporary material through collection actions at newspapers, radio and television stations, and field contacts. A model was elaborated for the digitisation (including context where possible) of the proverbs. 893 sources thus yielded over 50,000 digitised Slovenian proverbs, creating the conditions for their research. However, first of all the present collection had to be arranged by:
a) verifing whether all the items in the collected material meet the standards to be considered proverbs (this means that other types of folklore forms or records which fail to meet even that standard, must be eliminated from the material;
b) collecting in one place all the versions and variants of one and the same proverb;
c) working out a model for a sensible structure of the collected material.
For the time being we envisage a classification of the proverbs into chapters, as they are provided by the ethnological classification system of the Ethnological topography of the Slovenian ethnic territory + add chapters based on values (joy, happiness, etc.). This idea however requires further verification. The principal objective of the project at this stage of research into Slovenian proverbs and sayings is a scientific collection with an added scientific apparatus: sources, in-depth scientific commentaries, and a genre definition of this folklore form based on the Slovenian material. This would certainly constitute the original result of the planned project. In addition to standard philologically analytical and ethnological comparative methods,
the extensive nature of the material will also require many statistical operations. The scientific relevance of the work lies in the emphasis that this will be a fundamental work of Slovenian paremiology, and as such a much needed study aid and comparative source for European researches into proverbs.
The social and economic achievement lies in the fact that the envisaged collection will be an encyclopaedia of Slovenian proverbs, useful to a wide range of humanist and social sciences. The techniques used in the classification of Slovenian proverbs can also be used in the processing of similar texts: classification of SMS text messages on mobile phones or user comments on websites. These techniques, verified in the classification of proverbs, may also be useful to other folklore genres and beyond literary folklore. They may among others be used for efficient classification of the questions of users of products or services and sending answers to them; such techniques of artificial intelligence are further useful in any dissemination of public information (public administration, health service, etc.).

Project manager at ZRC

Funded by

Slovenian Reaeach Agency Grant