Friday, 11 August 2017

The Bear and the Cheese

Here’s something you don't often see translated: a folktale that relies on a specific dialect for its effect.

The Bear and the Fox

The fox came carrying a sweet cheese. Then he met the bear. The bear asked him where he had got that.

“Well,” said the fox, “It lay at the bottom of a churn. So I drank up all the water, and thus I found the cheese. If you will do the same, then there is one for you, too.”

The bear went to a tarn.1 The moon shone so brightly, and showed itself a cheese in the water. So the bear drank until he burst.

And the Norwegian source, for those who choose to dig a little deeper.

Bjørnen og osten

Reven kom berande med ein søtost. Så møtte han bjørnen. Bjørnen spurde kvar han hadd fenge den.

«Jau,» sa reven, «han låg på botnen i ei tjørn. Så drakk eg opp alt vatnet, og dermed fann eg osten. Vi du gjera like eitt, så er der ein åt deg òg.»

Bjørnen reiste åt ei tjørn. Månen skein så blankt, og det viste seg ein ost i vatnet. Så drakk bjørnen til han sprakk.

  • Collector: A. Leiro
  • Informant: Nils Røydland
  • Location: Evanger
  • Date: 1930
  • ATU: 34B
  • Source: NEB 4, p. 52

  1. Whilst the tale is recorded in a variant of nynorsk, the denouement rests on the oral dialect homophone, tjørn, which means both churn and tarn.  

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