The database of paroemic graffiti as a source in folklore research

Piret Voolaid

The online database Graffiti is one of the outcomes of ‘Creativity and tradition in cultural communication’ (2010–2012), the cooperation project of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences. In the framework of the project Grzegorz Szpila, linguist at the Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and Piret Voolaid, folklorist at the Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu, carried out parallel research in graffiti, focusing on the use of paroemic or -proverbial-phraseological material in Estonian and Polish wall art.

The majority of the database consists of graffiti photographed since 2011 mainly in Tartu, but also elsewhere in Estonia, but includes also the few graffiti documented and held in the Estonian Folklore Archives. As of early October 2013, the database contains about 500 graffiti.

The database aims to preserve a modern cultural phenomenon and present it as a systematic corpus of folklore that can be used by researchers of culture, but also by the wider audience for entertainment purposes. The English translations added to the texts favour international academic cooperation. The database also features an option for processing statistical data according to genre specificity. The material collected over a longer period, with additional metadata and the options created in the web application, offers a good cross-section of this folkloric genre, supports researcher in analyzing the material and allows making socio-cultural generalizations.

The study was supported by the state-financed project SF0030181s08, and Estonian Science Foundation grants ETF8137 and ETF8149.