A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World


Issue 21

This paper applies the anthropological approach to Algeria’s fairytales, an oral heritage that is under threat due to rapid changes in Algerian society, globalization, and new technology.


The paper discusses heritage fairytales in the Kabylie region of Algeria by analyzing the tales’ oral content and social, psychological and cultural themes that have been passed down through the generations by the collective memory. This paper attempts to identify the themes and concepts in these fairytales, to connect them to their socio-cultural and psychological contexts, and to explain why these fairytales are still narrated in Algeria despite their fanciful, mythological, primitive and absurd elements.

People in Algeria believe that the fairytales have supernatural powers, because some people still believe in them and fear negative consequences such as curses or the wrath of evil spirits. The study also highlights the individual’s relationship to society as reflected in some tales.  

This paper’s major aim is to identify the original semiotics of the oral narration and the multiple sources from which the narration draws its values, because many of the fairytales are related to disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, ethnology, anthropology, sociology and linguistics. A semantic analysis of the tales’ discourse will provide an explanation of the different relationships that the tales have with different disciplines.

As they have multiple semantic levels, the tales must be read in multiple ways if we are to understand all their connotations. It is methodologically incorrect to read oral narratives with the tools used to read written tales. We cannot read colloquial folk culture the way that we read standard classical culture for many reasons, the most important of which is the major difference between oral and written expression. The oral is based on contextual semantic units, while the written is based on the word.   

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