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Old Harestanes
Missing the point...
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A reply to an etymology (that I thought Faerygirl would find useful) recently read:

Rhianno wrote:
Ah surely it's all rubbish anyway? Which is to say, surely it's just all the cultural associations and baggage accumulated round particular places and words and so on. So modern ideas are at least as good as any others? Isn't it rather too hard to disentangle 'real' folklore from stuff people made up to suit a purpose / amuse the tourists etc? And as soon as it's passed on to another set of people who don't realise, then it becomes real folklore doesn't it, if it sticks? Not that you need my twopennorth but I reckon you should carry on, faerygirl. Who knows what a haerstone is in the 21st century? We need our own explanation that fits our own time (with a twist of whatever we currently think is pagan and weird, and hares certainly have a bit of that). Not that I'm knocking Branwen's version. Just that there's room for both?

So. I deleted my etymology post down to the bare minimum in deference to your position as the pre-eminant folklorist on this site, Rhiannon.

Personally, I thought it was a well reasearched etymology. As carefully written as I could manage and pertinant to this actual stone. I included my reasons for favouring the indo-european root word over the O.E one, though both have been angliced the same way, to "hare". I would have been happy to delete it completely except for the fact there have been replies. It raises some issues for me though.

Firstly. I did not mean to imply hare folklore has no relevance by adding an etymology. Even without Faerygirl's reply it was obvious she was adding a generalised piece of lore, not specific to this stone. Indeed, as there is no pre-existing lore connected to hares I thought my etymology might enlighten folks as to why there is none. It's a common pitfall to folklore studies - the word was anglicised to "hare" from a similar sounding, but totaly unrelated older name. One would think, if she's looking for sites of interest connected to hares, that I did her a favour and stopped her hunting in vain for something connected to hares.

Secondly. As to both "versions" having validity - as you say in your final sentence - I don't dispute that. Every folklorist knows, folklore is like an onion, pull back one layer of custom and belief and there's another one underneath. If a new piece of tale wipes out the old one, it just makes research that much more challenging, and in this day and age where we have better records, it's no disaster. (Interestingly - The last time I tried to stop someone leaving a Barbie at a sacred well they quoted the exact same argument - new customs replace the old, get over yourself.)

Lastly. Differing "versions" was hardly a consideration when making this post. My post was an etymology - not a "version" of folklore. I assume this was a slip on your part, as I know you must know the difference. For those that don't though, I'd like to clear the difference up.

ETYMOLOGY: The origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning, tracing its transmission from one language to another, identifying its cognates in other languages, and reconstructing its ancestral form where possible. The branch of linguistics that deals with etymologies.
FOLKLORE: The traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a people, transmitted orally. The comparative study of folk knowledge and culture. Liquid and often unreliable or obscure, and subject to evolution.

- In my defence, I've seen etymologies added to the folklore posts as comment additions before, and thought it was accepted practice. Is it?

- If it isn't, where should I have put it? Wouldn't the addition of a seperate etymology link be as useful as the folklore link addition was?

- How do people feel about folklore. Personally I could take Rhiannon's recent description about how she feels about the crumbling influences on our ancient and sacred nature of stones and apply it to the crumbling influences on ancient and sacred folklore. It does no real harm to see it go, I suppose. Unless you count the woman with the Barbie, who might have been swayed by doing it wrong more than being asked not to do it at all. If folklore had been preserved, there's no knowing how much more we'd know about the stones though, so to advocate not preserving it now seems pointless on this site in particular. Different if I was on a folklore site and just swapping stories. Here the folklore is to add to our body of knowledge.

Perhaps the folklore should have a "disputed antiquity" proviso too. Not a problem while Rhiannon did most of it, because in all the other posts I've read by her she was very conscience with adding the provenance of her source. A recent insult thrown at me that I was "as bad as that Rhiannon" was kind of a damp squid as far as I was concerned, but I'm at a loss as too why my post was faulty in this case.

Am I missing the whole point, somehow? I give up.

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Posted by Branwen
29th June 2010ce

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