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Oral Literature Best Study Revision Questions and Answers

Jul 12, 2024

Oral Literature Best Study Revision Questions and Answers


  1. Define the term oral literature. Spoken, acted and performed art whose transmission/ presentation/media is by word of mouth.
  2. Identify three main genres/ categories/forms/types/ kinds/ classes of oral literature.
  • Oral narratives
  • Short forms
  • Oral songs/ poems
  1. State eight (8) types/ sub-genres/ sub-categories/ sub-classes of oral narratives.
  • Legends
  • Myths
  • Dilemma
  • Aetiological/ Explanatory/ Why stories (tales)
  • Trickster narratives/ tales/ stories
  • Ogre/ monster narratives
  • Fables
  • Parables
  1. State all short forms:
  • Proverbs
  • Riddles
  • Tongue twisters.
  • Puns
  • Jokes
  • Idioms
  1. State at least 5 key characteristics of the 8 sub-genres/ sub-categories of oral narratives.
  2. Legends:
  • They are historical.
  • Based on community hero/ heroine.
  • Hero/ heroine have supernatural powers/ abilities.
  • True in nature.
  • Hero/ heroine usually sacrifices a lot on behalf of the community.
  • Have a moral lesson.
  1. Myths:
  • Are sacred/ religious.
  • Tell about origin of a community; certain beliefs and customs.
  • There is reference to superhuman being/ Involve superhuman being.
  • Based on history of a community.
  1. Dilemma tales/ narratives:
  • Protagonist has to make a tough choice.
  • None of the choice is easy to make.
  • Protagonist usually regrets the choice made.
  • Always ends with a question.
  • Have a moral lesson.
  1. Aetiological/ Explanatory narratives:
  • Explain the origin of natural phenomena/ occurrences.
  • Explain why things are the way they are.
  • Deal with the question: Why?
  • Heavily rely on the cultural background of the community.
  • Have a moral lesson.
  1. Trickster narratives/ tales/ stories
  • Involve treachery/ deceit/ cunning; trickster tricks another, dupe is tricked.
  • Involve small versus big animals.
  • Small animals are usually intelligent and cunning.
  • Big animals are usually mighty but gullible and foolish.
  • Test brain (intelligence) versus brawn (strength/ power)
  • Small animals always trick the big animals.
  • Have moral lesson.
  1. Ogre/ monster narratives
  • Involve interaction between ogres/ monsters and human beings.
  • Involve creatures from human imagination and fantasy (unreality).
  • Creatures have the ability turn themselves into human forms.
  • Creatures always take advantage of the vulnerable/ weak in the society.
  • Monsters/ ogres are pursued/ hunted by heroes/ heroines.
  • Teach a moral lesson.
  1. Fables
  • Involve animal characters.
  • The animal characters give human qualities and attributes (traits) – personified.
  • Derived from particular backgrounds.
  • Politely teach social norms/ standards/ rules.
  • Teach a moral lesson.
  1. Parables
  • Have a religious allusion/ reference.
  • Used to teach a moral lesson.
  • Are a form of education.
  • Use human characters.
  1. State the appropriate steps/ stages in a riddling process/ cycle.
  • Invitation – Challenger draws the attention of audience using an opening formula, for instance: ‘Have a riddle.’
  • Acceptance– Respondent responds or accepts to take the challenge, for instance: ‘Throw it.’
  • Challenge/Riddle– Challenger poses/ gives the challenge (riddle) itself.
  • Guesses or answers– Respondents try to answer; provide guesses.
  • Prize – Challenger asks for a prize in order to provide a solution in cases where respondents fail to answer it correctly. The prize is given, challenger finally accepts it.
  • Solution – Challenger gives the right answer.
  1. Highlight reasons why we study oral literature.
  • A form of education.
  • To understand our culture.
  • To understand our history.
  • As a form of entertainment.
  • For recreation; leisure.
  • National integration.
  1. Body languages:
  • Nodding
  • Smiling
  • Sitting posture (upright or leaning forward)
  • Dancing
  • Clapping/ applauding
  • Laughing
  • Frowning
  • Waving
  • Stamping feet.
  1. Verbal skills/ devices/ cues:
  • Voice projection; in order to audible.
  • Tonal variation; to break monotony & create interest.
  • Stress; to emphasize on certain issue/ point.
  • Intonation; to express different feelings/ moods and meanings.
  • Proper articulation (pronunciation)
  1. Non-verbal cues/ devices/ para-linguistic; extra-linguistic features:
  • Use of gestures (gesticulation); stretching hands, waving, swinging, pointing, clapping, thumbing, raising hand, spreading hands, shaking hands etc
  • Facial expression; smiling, nodding, frowning, blinking, widening eyes, eye contact, winking etc
  • Body movement; bending, stretching one’s body, enlarging stomach, curtsying ,bowing, shaking one’s body etc
  • Dramatization/ dramatic aspects; acting out scenes like jumping etc
  • Pregnant pauses; significant/ meaningful pauses (breaks) – to achieve certain effects such as suspense.
  • Mimicry; imitation of sounds specific certain animals or beings during narration.




  1. Oral devices:
  • These are devices (signals that support the verbal communication) cues used during an oral presentation/ performance to achieve meaningful and effective/ successful presentation:
  • NOTE: One must mention the exact cues and how they are applied practically.
  • Verbal cues.
  • Non-verbal cues.
  1. Body languages that show alertness on the part of audience:
  • Nodding
  • Smiling
  • Clapping
  • Applauding
  • Laughing
  • Sitting upright
  • Leaning forward
  1. Ways in which the audience can contribute towards a successful delivery of a narrative:
  • Joining in choral parts (singing).
  • Clapping/ applauding.
  • Telling parts of the story.
  • Nodding in agreement.
  1. Conventional ways of attracting attention:
  • Telling a relevant proverb
  • Giving an appropriate, summarizing riddle.
  • Using an appropriate opening phrase/ introductory statement: “I have a story/ take a story/ story story”
  • Challenging them with a tongue-twister.
  • Posing/ asking a surprising question.
  • Ringing a bell or drum
  • Whistling
  • Clearing throat
  • Clapping
  1. State at least 5 factors/ cues/ oral devices that make a story interesting/ thrilling/ captivating.
  • Use of facial expressions; smiling, frowning, nodding, blinking, eye contact etc
  • Use of gestures; waving, pointing, clapping, swinging hands, greeting, etc
  • Use of mimicry; imitation – Imitating the sounds typical to different characters in order to play their role in the performance.
  • Vary tone/ tonal variation; raising and lowering voice/pitch to express different moods/ atmosphere (lower voice for love and expressive situations; and high foranger and surprising/exciting/happy and joyous situations).

Voice projection – Say a word or line in a sharp, sudden and loud voice in order to reach the audience audibly and clearly as possible.

  • Dramatization/ dramatic aspects – Enacting/ acting out scenes as if they are real ones. Performing scenes to make them appear real, memorable and exciting. For instance, jumping.
  • Singing – Chanting/ singing in the course of narration in order to break the monotony of narration, enrich/ supplement the narration with certain information that would have otherwise been absent, allow audience participation in narration, capture the attention of the audience, allow smooth transition from one scene to another, help build audience-narrator rapport, sets the mood of the narrative and comic relief.
  1. State story telling devices that would enliven the narrative; if employed.
  • Use of facial expressions.
  • Use of gestures.
  • Use of mimicry.
  • Change of tone/ tonal variation.
  • Dramatization/ enactment of scenes.
  1. State qualities of a good storyteller/ narrator: He/ should have;
  • Good memory; must have good retention of the narrative.
  • Recreates the story afresh/ anew every time it is narrated.
  • Confident, courageous and determined; composed.
  • Creative; original and imaginative – should think artistically and creatively.
  • Should be able to use mimicry; imitate the speech and actions.
  • Should know his/ her (their) audience in terms of age, motivational level and preferences.
  • Observant; should be a good observer of what is happening in the immediate environment; should master elements in the community and use/ apply them appropriately and easily during narration.
  • Knowledgeable in terms of culture; should have interest in culture.
  • Open-minded
  • Employs dramatization and other para-linguistic features to enhance performance.
  1. State at least 12 typical features of narratives and songs/ poems.
  • Timelessness: The exact time when narrative took place is not mentioned.

It is indicated by the presence of opening and closing formula.

  • Elements of fantasy: They have elements/ aspects of imagination; things beyond the experience of a normal human being; for instance animals or inanimate objects talking.

The presence of ogres.

  • Moral lessons: Narratives have teachings (virtues/morals) drawn from them. They should be given positively. For instance, we should be honest.
  • Direct Address/ direct speech: Speaker talks directly to another person, animal or inanimate object (apostrophe).
  • Beginning/ opening formula:
  • Long ago….
  • Once upon a time….
  • There lived….
  • In older days….

Functions of opening formula:

  • It announces the start of the narrative.
  • It attracts the attention of the audience.
  • It identifies the narrator.
  • It takes the audience to the world of fantasy.
  • Closing/ ending formula:
  • That is the end of my story.
  • And that is my story.
  • Thereafter and they lived happily.
  • My story ends there.

Functions of closing formula:

  • It announces the end of the narrative.
  • It releases the audience from concentration.
  • It paves way for the next narrative.
  • It brings back the audience to the world of reality.
  • Ideophones: Repetition of actual natural sounds in which the words are not found in the dictionary. For instance, krrrr…Ouch! Hahaha…, tap tap tap….
  • Dialogue:Conversation between characters is evident in narratives.

This is to make it live, real and captivating.

  • Personification: Human qualities/ attributes are given to animals or inanimate objects. For instance, stone talking or hare laughing.
  • Repetition/ Refrain/ Chorus// Repetition of action: Aspects of repetition of words, phrases, clauses or sentences are evident in order to:
  • Emphasize on certain point(s), concept(s), issue(s), topic(s) or idea(s).
  • It also creates rhythm in the narrative.
  • It gives mood to the narrative.
  • Use of local/ ethnic words: Use of vernacular language i.eWat, ‘Mikai, Misumba, chik, dak’ in order;
  • Give the narrative a local flavour/ beauty.
  • Provide setting; place where the story was set.
  • Mimicry: Imitation of words or sounds of other characters.
  • Use of proverbs: This is in order to precisely/ briefly capture the moral lesson of the narrative.
  • Use of songs: This is in order to;
  • Allows the audience to participate in singing.
  • Creates rapport between the audience and the singer.
  • Breaks the monotony of narration.
  • It acts as a code/ system of communication between characters.
  • It allows as a comic relief; makes audiences laugh hence relieving tension.
  • Sets the mood of the narrative.
  • Allows smooth transition between scenes.
  • Lack geographical specificity:Narratives lack exact mention of particular places where the story is set. It just uses words such as:
  • Far far away.
  • In a distant place.
  1. Highlight 10 general features of songs.
  • Involves aspects of poetry and chants (singing and jumping).
  • Community property.
  • Have lots of traditional elements.
  • Dynamic; keep on absorbing new themes.
  • Reflect real experiences in contemporary society.
  • Use images and symbols from the immediate environment.
  • Have refrain/ chorus to allow audience participation.
  • Are in verse form (group of lines that form a single unit).
  • Use lots of repetition.
  • Have rhetorical questions, similes, metaphors, rhyme and rhythm.
  1. State 10 features of an oral song/poem.
  • Repetition
  • Transliteration/ direct translation
  • Direct address/ Apostrophe
  • Short stanzas/ lines
  • Parallelism; uniformity in structure
  • Simple vocabulary.
  • Figurative language.
  1. Describe the poetic language/structure evident in songs.
  • Repetition/ refrain
  • Rhetorical/ rhetoric questions
  • Similes
  • Metaphors
  • Rhythm
  • Rhyme
  • Verse form
  1. Explain the aspects of integration that exist between oral songs and oral poetry:
  • Sound pattern; rhyme – creates rhythm leading to musicality and memorability.
  • Repetition/ refrain. – creates emphasis and musicality and aid in memorability.
  • Figures of speech/ figurative language; simile, metaphors, personification etc.
  • Rhetorical questions
  1. Highlight key themes typical to legends:
  • Prophecy and supernatural powers.
  • Important service to the community.
  • Major struggles.
  • Victory and defeat.
  1. Identify 15 types of oral/ poems songs with their respective alternative names if applicable:
  • Work songs
  • Love songs
  • Political songs
  • Religious/ sacred songs
  • Wedding songs
  • Topical songs.
  • Initiation/ circumcision songs
  • Funeral songs/ dirges
  • War songs
  • Teasing/ satirical songs
  • Praise/ panegyric songs.
  • Lullaby songs
  • Children’s play songs/ singing games
  • Chain songs
  • Child naming songs
  1. Highlight typical, key and specific features and functions of every type of song:
  • Love songs;
  • Express love for the opposite sex; woo them.
  • They can express sorrow at being rejected.
  • Either performed by a group or individual.
  • They are romantic in nature.
  • They can involve dialogue between lovers.
  • Wedding songs;
  • They are sung by the bride and/ or her companions.
  • They are characterized by pomp/ show and celebration.
  • They are usually accompanied by drums, shakers, jingles etc
  • Praise the pride and groom and their family.
  • Express the role of the bride and that of the groom.
  • Express sorrow of leaving home and parting with friends.
  • Warn of the challenges likely to be faced at groom’s place.
  • Enhance happy mood during the wedding time.
  • War songs: They are sung in preparation for, during and after war by warriors.
  • They are highly repetitive.
  • Express fighter’s prowess/ heroism and courage.
  • Are exaggerated.
  • May scorn/ condemn opponent.
  • Praise political leaders.
  • Sung with lots of gusto/ enthusiasm/ passion/ enjoyment/ delight/ pleasure/ zest.
  • Sacred songs:
  • They have stanzas and a chorus.
  • They are structurally repetitive.
  • They are slow and solemn.
  • They have steady rhythm.
  • They address a supreme being and emphasize people’s helplessness.
  • Work songs:
  • They are hardly accompanied except with sounds of work tools.
  • They are fast so as to create rhythm for work.
  • They are repeated over to last the duration of the job at hand.
  • They may extol/ praise hardwork and denounce/ condemn laziness.
  • They may ridicule/ condemn/ deride a known miser or lazy person in the community.
  • Initiation/ Circumcision songs:
  • They are sung by initiates and elders.
  • They have elaborate accompaniments like shakers, horns, drums etc
  • They encourage the initiates to be brave.
  • They mock cowardice.
  • They emphasize the new roles of the initiates as men and women the community.
  • They appreciate forefathers of the community for upholding and bequeathing/ living this tradition for them.
  • They raise the bravery of the initiates.
  • Dirges/ Funeral songs:
  • They are sung by mourners.
  • They are somber/ sad/ melancholic.
  • They are repetitive.
  • They may be fast or slow.
  • They are accompanied with a lot of drumming and dancing to cheer up the bereaved.
  • They express sorrow and disbelief at the loss of loved one.
  • They praise the achievement and virtues of the dead.
  • Lullabies:
  • They are sung softly.
  • Are repetitive.
  • Have slow rocking rhythm.
  • Have soothing words that even lying to the child. Some lie that mother has gone away to bring the child a tantalizing/ enticing/alluring gift.
  • Singing games:
  • They are short and quick-changing from song to song to avoid children getting bored.
  • They are repetitive.
  • They are characterized with mockery/ ridicule.
  • Are highly playful.
  • Are rhythmic.
  1. Compare and contrast myths and legends:


  • They are stories- they have plot and characters.
  • Based on oral tradition.
  • They are mostly transmitted orally.
  • Usually specific to a group of people.
  • Involve things from the immediate environment; forests, lakes etc
  • Involve gods and supernatural world.
  • They are believed to be true.
  • They tell about someone or events in the past.


  • Legends are solely based onexploits/ achievements of human characters while myths sometimes only involve gods and animals.
  • Some legends are attributed to historical characters, like LwandaMagere while myths are purely fictional/ imaginary.
  • Legends revolve around historical characters, events,their struggles and achievements while myths revolve around the origin/ creation of people and other things (customs, taboos etc), and events in their environment such as death.
  • Myths are religious (sacred) while legends


Legends Myths
1.      Involve exploits/ achievements of human characters. Involve gods and animals.
2.      Involve historical characters like LwandaMagere Involve fictional/ imaginary characters.
3.      They explain events, struggles and achievements of real, human characters. They explain the origin/ creation of people and other things (customs, taboos, death and other natural occurrences)
4.      They are religious (sacred). They are historical.


  1. Briefly describe the term didactic function in literature: They refer to educative function.
  2. State the main features of panegyric (praise) songs:
  • They use extensive metaphors; comparing people to animals to promote certain admirable/ valuable qualities.
  • They glorify people especially good leaders with admirable qualities.
  1. Similarities between tongue twisters and proverbs.
  • They both use mnemonics, sound patterns, alliteration and assonance.
  • They are brief.
  • They are fixed.
  • They are communally accepted.
  1. Highlight the key features of short forms; proverbs, riddles, tongue-twisters, puns and jokes:
  • Proverbs:
  • Precise/ short
  • Metaphorical; have hidden meanings
  • Have fixed wordings.
  • Express community’s wisdom and philosophy (principle)
  • Serious statement in nature.
  • Based on facts.
  • They can have two parts; proposition and completion.
  • Riddles:
  • Short/ brief
  • Metaphorical; have word puzzle that require solution.
  • Require two people to complete
  • Informal
  • In question-answer format.
  • Symmetrical (show balance and trimness in structure)
  • Has opening formula
  • Performed by children
  • Tongue twisters:
  • Are brief statements.
  • Are alliterative
  • May or may not make sense
  • May be formed at any time as they are not hard and fast.
  1. Define the terms: proverb, riddle, tongue-twister, pun, parable, idioms and joke.


  1. Describe the key aspects of plot commonly evident in narratives.
  • Exposition – The beginning
  • Rising action
  • Climax –   The middle
  • Falling action (denouement)
  • Resolution – The end.
  1. Identify the things lost when a tongue-twister is translated:
  • Authenticity; accuracy, originality
  • Local flavour; beauty.
  • Connotative
  • Sound pattern; alliteration/rhythm/ musicality.
  1. Define the term translation and transcription in orature.

Translation: changing oral literature material from original language to a language of study – for instance, English.

Transcription: writing down oral literature material from a tape without altering anything.

  1. Explain the term respondent in two different contexts:
  2. A person who accepts/ reacts to a challenge given by challenger in riddling process.
  3. A person who answers the informant upon questioning during the interview.
  4. Explain the importance of opening and closing formula:
  5. Opening formula;
  • Marks the start of the narrative.
  • Takes the audience to the world of fantasy (imagination).
  1. Closing formula;
  • Marks the end of narrative.
  • Brings the audience back to the world of reality.
  • Invites another narrator to take his/ her turn.
  1. State and explain 4 classification of proverbs:
  • Advisory proverbs; advise/ counsel.
  • Cautionary proverbs; warn/ caution.
  • Normative proverbs; reinforce/ strengthen what the society considers desirable/ valuable: ‘All that glitters is not gold.’
  • Summative proverbs; summarize words of wisdom to give moral lesson.
  1. State 6 aspects of performance:
  • Use of costume
  • Intonation
  • Sound track; recorded music accompanying performance.
  • Gestures
  • Movements
  • Props/ décor; anything movable/ portable on stage.
  1. State 5 ways of beginning a story in order to attract the attention of the audience:
  • Telling a relevant proverb
  • Giving an appropriate, summarizing riddle.
  • Using an appropriate opening phrase/ introductory statement: “I have a story/ take a story/ story story”
  • Challenging them with a tongue-twister.
  • Ringing a bell or drum
  • Whistling
  • Clearing throat
  • Clapping


  1. Outline the social functions of all short forms:


  • Entertainment
  • Recording history
  • Cultural transmission
  • For education purposes
  • A measure of wisdom
  • Promotion of morality/ social norms
  • Enrich language
  • To console
  • To praise
  • To compare situations and things
  • To caution/ warn.


  • Entertainment
  • Recording history.
  • A commentary on human life.
  • Linguistic training
  • A form of education
  • To sharpen critical thinking/ wits.
  • Tongue twisters:
  • A pastime activity.
  1. Identify some social/ socio-cultural, socio-economic and economic activities evident in some narratives:
  • Farming
  • Fishing
  • Animal husbandry/ pastoralism
  • Hunting
  • Bee keeping
  • Brewing
  • Cattle raiding; social activity.
  1. Explain the meaning fieldwork.


  1. State reasons why fieldwork is necessary:


  1. Describe key stages in fieldwork:


  1. State the problems faced during fieldwork.


  1. State the importance of a song during narration:
  • Allows the audience to participate in singing.
  • Creates rapport between the audience and the singer.
  • Breaks the monotony of narration.
  • It acts as a code/ system of communication between characters.
  • It allows as a comic relief; makes audiences laugh hence relieving tension.
  • Sets the mood of the narrative.
  • Allows smooth transition between scenes.
  1. Describe some moral lessons derived from oral narratives appropriately.

NOTE: They must be framed/ written positively.Should not use NOT/ NEVER.

  • We should (learn to) be honest.
  • We should be generous.
  • We should share what we have/ get.
  • We should be obedient.
  • We should choose friends wisely.
  1. Based on some animals, describe their character traits appropriately.
  • Hare; intelligent, wise.
  • Hyena: greedy, gullible.


  1. Identify some themes based on some oral narratives.
  • Greed
  • Disobedience
  • Jealousy
  • Betrayal
  • Dishonesty
  • Pride
  • Hatred
  • Gullibility