Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

A Semiotic Landscape: Proceedings of the First Congress of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, Milan, June 1974/Panaroma sémiotique: Actes du premier congrès de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique, Milan, juin 1974

Start Page


Last Page



Among the many genres of folklore, the riddle is most amenable to semiotic inquiry. In short dialogue sequences, riddling includes verbal metaphors, interpretations, and their rejections or validations. Inherent in the riddle is a deliberate ambiguity which is designed to reveal and conceal its subject at one and the same time. Success in untangling the true meaning of the riddle sentence from the knots of verbal deceit depends upon the confirmation of the solution by the riddle poser. However, his acceptance of the answers is often whimsical and manipulative, tending to maintain his socially advantageous position (Abrahams 1968a, 1968b; Williams 1963).

Copyright/Permission Statement

Originally published by Mouton Publishers, now a part of DeGruyter © 1979.



Date Posted: 22 September 2017