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 Urban Myths

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Number of posts : 107
Location : West Scotland
Registration date : 2007-09-05

PostSubject: Urban Myths   Thu 04 Sep 2008, 6:01 am

Has anybody got any opinions about Urban Myths (or Friend of a Friend stories), they have always been another interest of mine (although they have been pretty much left off the main site). I really see them as modern folklore as they have many things in common with older folklore, especially the way they get passed around by word of mouth although the internet has speeded this up.

One of the best sites is which covers almost every aspect of them, and is great for debunking those e-mail warnings that get sent in panic to everyones mailbox at work. It actually happened this morning - with a warning about a phone scam to pass on to all your friends that has no basis in reality and has been doing the internet rounds for years.
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Number of posts : 141
Registration date : 2008-02-05

PostSubject: Re: Urban Myths   Thu 04 Sep 2008, 9:18 am

One thing I've noticed about myths and urban legends is that they often don't make sense! Yes, they may explain how the end of story was reached but not why.

For instance, take the legend of the Devil's Dyke in Sussex, outlined here

You wonder how the Devil, supposedly a fallen angel, was so easily fooled. And why didn't he come back to finish the job? The legend clearly 'explains' some local topographical features but the 'plot' is nonsensical. If you examine other legends you will see that many seem to explain the final result or denouement but in a ridiculous way.
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Number of posts : 125
Age : 98
Location : United States
Registration date : 2008-04-06

PostSubject: Re: Urban Myths   Fri 05 Sep 2008, 8:55 am

There's a really wonderful book on urban legends in America - "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" by Jan Harold Brunvald. it's older - published in 1981 - but a really neat read on the subject.

I think urban legends often reflect our deeper but more irrational fears. Perhaps some do have a kernel of truth. I don't think for a moment that crocodiles live in the New York City sewers. On the other hand, people do purchase exotic snakes and then release them in the wild and end up eating poodles and such like.
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Number of posts : 193
Age : 34
Location : Scotland
Registration date : 2007-10-01

PostSubject: Re: Urban Myths   Sun 07 Sep 2008, 5:51 am

I suppose urban legends are simply folktales for modern times. No matter what way you look at it, they are folk tales, or as we call 'em "auld wives' tales".
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Number of posts : 217
Age : 42
Registration date : 2007-10-11

PostSubject: Re: Urban Myths   Mon 08 Sep 2008, 2:17 am

I find tem very entertaining but, what's more interesting, I love to try and find out where they come from, how the story got progressively wilder etc. Call it sociology or studies in folklore, that's a great way to understand how our brains and social relationships work.
About the Devil's dumbness in many of these stories... we should talk about it more in depth sooner or later but I personally believe that many of these originated in the the first millenia of official Christianity (but probably much later: still in the XVIII century more than a member of the Lutheran Church of Finland was tried by his superiors for practicing "pagan" rites to ensure a good catch for the local fishermen). Missionaries often had a very hard time cracking "pagan" cults in the areas away from big cities and so resorted to implanting a few fanciful stories of their own, ridiculing local deities and demigods (ie the Devil). But that's another story for another day.
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