The database of East-European three-nation’ jokes

Liisi Laineste

Three-nation jokes form one of the most voluminous and popular subcategory of ethnic jokes. The jokes are known in the folklore of many nations, but the characters vary by country, culture and language. While in the British tradition, the main joke characters are the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman, in Polish jokes the featured characters are the Pole, the Russian and the German. In Estonia, the most popular trio is the Estonian, the German and the Russian. The choice of characters offers information on the migration and transformation of these jokes in intercultural space and is an excellent material for comparative research.

The project for collecting three-nation jokes, based on MediaWiki, started in 2010 in the framework of ‘Creativity and tradition in cultural communication’, the cooperation project of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The website of three-nation jokes currently contains 100 texts falling into three distinct categories: global joke types; local modifications of global joke types; and local joke types. MediaWiki also allows visualizing the search results, thus outlining the reciprocal relations and potential evolvement of the archived texts. While MediaWiki is a tool that can still be improved and adapted for the specific research purposes, one may agree that it is an excellent environment for cross-cultural research of folklore texts.