Exploring the islands of Melanesia allowed me not only to learn new languages, but also to discover a whole new world of mythology and literature, through the many stories of the oral tradition: myths, legends, folktales and other narratives. During my years of fieldwork (1997–2011), I recorded 389 such stories, in 21 different languages. Setting aside a few secret myths not meant to be released in public, all these pieces belong to the 940 fieldwork recordings I have archived and made publicly accessible online – mostly through the Pangloss Collection, the open archive of my department CNRS–LACITO.
Among those archived recordings, I here propose a selection of 63 stories, which stand out for various reasons – whether due to their subject, their structure, the light they shed upon past or present societies, or due to the talented style of the storyteller. Not only can you listen to the original sound, but also read a transcript of the text in the language [these languages are presented here]. As much as possible, texts come with a translation, either in French or in English.
To read a text, click on its title.
The table below shows what features come with the text:
audio – transcript of the text in the vernacular–
French translation – English translation.
Some stories have no translation yet, and are only provided with a transcript: these may be of interest to members of the speaker communities, as well as linguists or other curious readers.
All these stories were first transcribed by hand in the field, with the help of native speakers of the languages; later on, I would type these notes and add them to my digital text corpus (in Toolbox). This work of transcription and translation is still in progress. Later again, the workflow included a stage of time-aligning text and sound, sentence by sentence (using LACITO's SoundIndex software), aimed at a web publication on the Pangloss interface. The 50+ texts listed above were time-aligned mostly thanks to the support, in 2013, of the LabEx EFL "Empirical Foundations of Linguistics", to which I am grateful.
I intend to keep enriching these corpora in the future, by adding in more stories or more translations. The present selection, however, already gives a fair idea of the diversity of narratives that can be heard in the field, on an evening of storytelling.