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  • Author or Editor: María Palleiro x
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“Virtue wands” do appear in Argentinean folk narrative as useful devices used by the hero to achieve his dreams. Using the correct charm and waving his wand, the Argentinean folk hero John the Lazy manages to marry the princess and to live without working. Charms show in this way how to do things with words, pronouncing the proper words in the right situation. In this presentation, I deal with the formulaic use of a magic charm in this Argentinean folktale, collected in fieldwork in 1988. This charm deals with an invocation to the “Wand of virtue” given to the hero by God`s mercy, whose proper use shows the performative force of language. The tension between the absence of effort and the need of working is solved in this tale in a world of dream, in which the real effort is to learn how to use the correct words. Social beliefs in the supernatural are expressed in this tale, in which the wand is a God`s gift that allows the hero to avoid struggling. But the main gift is actually the knowledge of language which permits the hero to make an accurate usage of formulaic discourse, structured in the charm in an epigrammatic way. In this way, I propose a metapragmatic consideration of such charms that, as Urban (1989) says, deal with “speech about speech in speech about action”. In the Argentinean context in which I collected this folktale, the hero is the young son of a rural peasant family, poor and struggling, like the narrator and his audience. The lazy poor boy who marries the princess thanks to the force of the dreams shows how the language is the key both to repair social gaps and to restore collective order.

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Authors: Éva Pócs and María Palleiro
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