Accepted Paper:

Proverbs and the status of cultural heritage  


Liisa Granbom-Herranen (University of Turku)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals with Finnish proverbs both as a phenomenon and immaterial elements of cultural heritage. The focus is on the questions why proverbs have got the status of cultural heritage and what does it mean in practice.

Paper long abstract:

Proverbs in Finnish language have always been closely linked to changes in the Finnish society as well as global trends. The relationship between the Lutheran Church and the state has had an effect on the collections of proverbs beginning in 16th century. During the 19th and 20th centuries the changes in economic, social and ideological structures of the society have had an impact on the research of Finnish folk traditions. The interest in folklore and language in the 19th century paved the way for the Finnish folkloristic research for quite a long period. The ideas can be anchored in the 17th century Finland as well as in the Reformation. The need for national cultural elements it is to be seen today, in the 21st century and the time of EU, international networks and polyglot communication.

Traditional Finnish proverbs are an example of elements that have got the status "cultural heritage" even if there is no official appointment but it is a question of tacit knowledge. However, the modern proverb tradition has brought up changes in the proverb genre, whereas the earlier oral tradition has found a place in the colloquial written language. Just like proverbs elsewhere, Finnish proverbs are often combined with the history of a nation and this way they might be considered as a value by itself. The paper discusses the grounds of the given status as well as takes up some thoughts what might ensue of labeling something as "cultural heritage".

Panel P38
Cultural heritage, status and mobility