11 Facts About Riddles


Riddles are of two types: enigmas, which are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity and careful thinking for their solution, and conundra, which are questions relying for their effects on punning in either the question or the answer.

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Riddles are attested in anthologies of poetry and in prosimetrical portrayals of riddle-contests in Arabic maqamat and in Persian epics such as the Shahnameh.

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Riddles have been collected by modern scholars throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

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Riddles are known to have been popular in Greece in Hellenistic times, and possibly before; they were prominent among the entertainments and challenges presented at symposia.

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Riddles survive only fragmentarily in Old High German: three, very short, possible examples exist in manuscripts from the Monastery of St Gallen, but, while certainly cryptic, they are not necessarily riddles in a strict sense.

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Riddles continued to flourish until recently as an oral form of entertainment, however; the seminal collection of Anglophone riddles from the early modern period through to the twentieth century is Archer Taylor's.

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Riddles are, for example, prominent in some early-modern ballads collected from oral tradition.

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Riddles provide some of the first surviving evidence for Finnish-language literature.

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Riddles have been characterised as "one of the most important forms of oral art in Africa"; Hamnett analyzes African riddling from an anthropological viewpoint; Yoruba riddles have enjoyed a recent monograph study.

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Riddles argues for recognition of the importance of the riddling act, not merely gathering and studying lists of riddles.

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Riddles are found extensively in the settler-colonial cultures of the Americas.

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