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The Ritual Lexicon and the Ritual Practice Concerning the Birth of a Child in “Srpski rječnik” (“The Serbian Dictionary”) 1818 by Vuk Sefanović Karadžić

Folkloristika 3/2 (2018): 9‒22
Author: Zoja Karanović
Text: PDF


Ritual-customary practice concerning the birth of a child is very rich and diverse in Serbian culture. It consists of a series of taboos and rites which begin already in the prenatal period. It continues after the birth and proceeds in the first months and years of a child’s life, and represents the process of separation of a child from the other world and its association with the human community. This practice consists of three phases: actions performed with respect to the birth, christening and ceremonies related to baptism, and finally rituals performed in the early years of a child’s life. Some of these rituals had been mentioned or described in Srpski rječnik (The Serbian Dictionary, 1818) by Vuk Karadžić. The paper deals with the nomination of ritual procedures related to the mentioned rites. The author shows that the rituals indicated in The Serbian Dictionary correspond to later records and also that vocabulary and its explanations include the sphere of language and culture. Therefore, Vuk Karadžić’s Serbian Dictionary is more than what lexicography would normally define as a dictionary, since the presentations of the meanings transcend the framework of an explication of a particular lexeme. Its unique character is reflected in the fact that it provides a plethora of information on Serbian material and nonmaterial culture, and thus can be read as an ethnological testimony of the period, given in the form of a semasiologically (alphabetically) organized dictionary.
Key words: Vuk Karadžić, Srpski rječnik (The Serbian Dictionary) 1818, birth of a child, ritual lexicon, ritual practice, Serbian culture