« 2020. # 6 (156)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2020. # 6 (156), 1356—1366

УДК 801.631.5:398.8:041(100)

DOI https://doi.org/10.15407/nz2020.06.1356

Halyna KOVAL

  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2998-2357
  • Candidate of Philological Sciences (PhD),
  • Senior Researcher at Folklore Department
  • at the Ethnology Institute
  • of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • 15, Svobody Avenue, 79000, Lviv, Ukraine,
  • e-mail: galyna.kov@gmail.com


One of the basic folklore elements is formulaicity — stereotypes of linguistic and semantic constructions, which in one way or another are embedded in the poetic canon. The researchers use different ways to nominate these stable repeated elements: «formulas», «fixed phrases», «themes», «motives», «loci communes», «traditional epithets», «comparisons», «metaphors», «parallelisms», «idioms», «stable verbal complexes», «blocks».

The aim of the article is to study formulaicity as one of the typological universals of different folklore genres. According to the compositional role, their place in the text, there are introductory or initial formulas, which contain chronological instructions, spatial parameters. These are stable rhythmic verbal constructions which are characterized by recognizability and stereotipicity. They perform memory (mnemonic), utilitarian and aesthetic functions. An important point is that the formulas condense the traditional information that is inherent in different genres of folk works, so it is important to research how the formulas «fit» at the level of the text, how they are motivated, «fitting» into its structure. The article reveals semantic and functional spectrum of formulaicity: they can consolidate significant ritual-based and meaning determining segments of the text, contribute to better preservation of content. They also appear as a result of a creative search for aesthetics, a perfect form, stimulated by faith in the ritual and magical power of the word. They can be called aesthetic markers which determine the folk style of genres. Calendar and ritual songs have their own verbal and poetic and emotional and psychological peculiarities: koliadky and shchedrivky (Christmas carols), songs of praise, vesniankas and hayivkas (folk songs celebrating spring), songs sung during the week prior Pentecost and week after this, petrivka songs (songs sung during St. Peter and St. Paul’s fasting period), songs performed on St. John the Baptist’s Day and obzhynky (harvest festival songs).

The object of the research are types of formulas — medial, which are the key elements of the compositional structure emphasizing the dignity of the master, strength, beauty, request-formulas, warning formulas, formulas of the impossible. To finale formulas belong formulas-wishes aimed at ensuring good harvest, health and well-being of a person. They often have imperative form.

Thus, formulas are the main binding element of a folklore text that often has a projective function, and also performs the function of connecting the text to tradition in a complex universe of folk ideas and ideals, which, in fact, forms the content of traditional folklore text (special folklore reality with its own aesthetic parameters, based on compliance with the norm, the ideal).

Keywords: formulaicity, calendar and ritual; folklore, tradition, poetics.


  • Lord, A. (1975). O formule. Literatura ludowa (Vol. 4—5, pp. 58—64). Wroclaw [in Polish].
  • Kolessa, F. (1937). Formulas of endings in Ukrainian folk thoughts. NTSh notes (Vol. 155, pp. 32—33). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Maltsev, G. (1989). Traditional formulas of non-ritual lyrics. To the study of the aesthetics of the oral poetic canon. Russian folklore. Poetics of Russian folklore (Vol. 21, p. 28). Moscow [in Russian].
  • Kopanytsia, L. (2000). The formulaic motive is a poetic translation of the archetype. Literature. Folklore. Problems of poetics (Vol. 7, p. 156). Kyiv [in Ukrainian].
  • Pastukh, N. (2018). Formality in folklore. Ukrainian folklore encyclopedia (P. 734). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Dej, O. (Eds.). (1974). Ukrainian folk songs in the records of Zorian Dolenga-Khodakovsky (from Galicia, Volhynia, Podillya, Prydniprianshchyna and Polissya) (P. 119). Kyiv: Naukova Dumka [in Ukrainian].
  • Sokil, V., & Sokil, G. (1998). Folklore materials from the fatherland (Pp. 39, 41, 97). Lviv: Institute of Ethnology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine [in Ukrainian].
  • Koval, G. (2006). The Virgin in Ukrainian folklore (P. 67). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Mishanich, S. (Eds.). (1976). Songs of Podillya. Records of Nastya Prysyazhnyuk in the village of Pohrebyshche. 1920—1970 (P. 113). Kyiv: Naukova Dumka [in Ukrainian].
  • Dej, O., & Humeniuk, A. (Eds.). (1963). Games and songs Spring-summer poetry of the working year (P. 126). Kyiv: Naukova Dumka [in Ukrainian].
  • Vinogradova, L. (1982). Winter calendar poetry of the western and eastern Slavs. Genesis and typology of caroling (P. 80). Moscow: Nauka [in Russian].
  • Hnatyuk, V. (1914). Carols and Christmas carols. Ethnographic collection (Vol. 1, p. 25). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Kolessa, F. (1970). Rhythmics of Ukrainian folk songs. Musicological works (P. 82). Kyiv: Naukova Dumka [in Ukrainian].
  • Hnatyuk, V. (1909). Gaivki. Materials on Ukrainian ethnology (Vol. 12, pp. 36, 116, 171). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Kruk, I. (1993). Medial formula. East Slavic folklore. Dictionary of scientific and folk terminology (P 423). Minsk: Science and Technology [in Byelorussian].
  • Shalata, M. (Eds.). (1983). Folk songs in the records of Ivan Vahylevych (P. 26). Kyiv: Musical Ukraine [in Ukrainian].
  • Gotting, F. Das Volkslied. Handbuch der Deutschen Volkskunde. Potsdam [s. a.] (P. 372) [in Polish].
  • Lord, A. (1994). Narrator (P. 61). Moscow: Vostochnaya literatura RAN [in Russian].
  • Bartminsky, E. (2005). Linguistic image of the world: essays on ethnolinguistics (P. 406). Moscow [in Russian].
  • Lyashuk, V. Formula. Belarusian folklore. Encyclopedia (Vol. 2, p. 680) [in Byelorussian].
  • Reboshapka, I. (1975). The birth of the symbol. Aspects of interaction of rite and ritual poetry (P. 45). Bucharest: Criterion [in Ukrainian].
  • Sharaya, O. The formula of the impossible. East Slavic folklore. Dictionary of scientific and folk terminology (P. 424) [in Russian].
  • Bogatyrev, P. (1962). The formula of the impossible in Slavic folklore. Slavic philological collection (Vol. 9, p. 362). Ufa [in Russian].
  • Kirdan, B. (1983). The formula of the «impossible» in Slavic songs of the Carpathian zone. IX International Congress of Slavists. History, culture, ethnography and folklore of the Slavic peoples (P. 216). Moscow [in Russian].
  • Sokil, V. (2020). Boyko folk songs (Vol. 1, p. 37). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Veselovsky, A. (1989). Three chapters from historical poetics. Historical poetics (P. 289). Moscow: Higher School [in Russian].
  • Shukhevich, V. (1999). Hutsul region. 2nd type (Vol. 4, p. 32). Verkhovina [in Ukrainian].
  • Tolstoya, S. (2012). Miracle. Slavic antiquities. Ethnolinguistic dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 558). Moscow [in Russian].
  • Hrushevsky, M. (1993). History of Ukrainian literature (Vol. 1, p. 197). Kyiv: Lybid [in Ukrainian].
  • Kylymnyk, S. (1994). Ukrainian year in historical light (Book 2, p. 88). Kyiv [in Ukrainian].
  • Verkhratsky, I. (1902). On the speech of the Galician Lemkos. Collection of philological section of NTSh (Vol. 5, p. 285). Lviv [in Ukrainian].
  • Stupnytsky, V. (2007). Songs of Slobidska Ukraine (P. 17). Kharkiv: Maidan [in Ukrainian].
  • Chebanyuk, Yu. (Eds.). (1987). Calendar-ritual songs (P. 334). Kyiv: Dnipro [in Ukrainian].
  • (1995). Oh, God, wait for the year of the Bush. Bush songs recorded in Rivne Polissya by Viktor Kovalchuk (P. 9). Rivne [in Ukrainian].
  • (1978). Folk songs of Galician and Hungarian Russia, collected by J.F. Golovatsky (Vol. 2, p. 246). Moscow [in Russian].
  • (1872). Proceedings of an ethnographic and statistical expedition to the Western Russian Territory equipped with the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. Southwest Department. Materials and research, collection. P.P Chubinsky (Vol. 3, p. 315). St. Petersburg [in Russian].


Our authors
Traditional folk clothes of velikobychkovsky hutsuly of XIX — the first half of XX century
In the study based upon numerous field materials, literature sources as well as ethnographic, historio-cultural and regional museum collections has been performed complex analysis in traditional folk clothes by Hutzul population of Velyky Bychkiv village in Transcarpathian region. Detailed descriptions of femi­nine and masculine clothing complexes of the mentioned area have been presented. In characterizing of those main attention has been paid to the detail of cut in separate components of dress; cut of feminine shirt has been added as an illustration.
Read »

On bessarabian and moldavian ukrainians in the studies of historical ethnography
The article has thrown some light upon a sum of scientific findings got during XIX to XXI cc. in historio-ethnographic studies of Bessarabia and Moldavian Ukrainians. In the pre­sent paper has been given author’s answer to the problem of lacking progress as for the numerous themes concerning Ukrainians. State and achievements of the research-works in Ukrainians’ material and spiritual culture by the scientists of Moldavia and Ukraine through the years of independence has been exposed.
Read »

Maternity ritualism by volhynians in publications of the second half XIX to the early XXI cc.
In the article have been considered some basic landmarks for fixing and publication of ethnographic materials on the maternity rites of Volhynia with analytical study in ritual elements, their kinds and territories of origin. The article has also raised a problem of gaps in studies of maternity rites of Ukrainian historio-ethnographic Volhynia.
Read »

On field exploration of russian and belarusian ethnologists and etnolinguists in Ukrainian Polisia 1945—1980s
In the study based on a wide range of literary materials have been comprehensively characterised field research in Polisia of Ukraine, performed by Russian and Belarusian ethnologists during 1945—1980s as well as Moscow ethnolinguists and other researchers from ethnologic centres of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in the course of realization of Ethnolinguistic Atlas of Polisia program. Particular attention has been paid to geography, methods, themes and research results of scientific projects.
Read »