Tag Archives: Troll



Informant: I am gonna be live remembering this… So what I know is it’s called “Nāranj o Toranj.” And nāranj… Means like… Orange, kind of? I think? I have no idea what toranj means. But maybe that’s a name. Um… But there’s something to do with it… So there’s this prince. And his family is pushing him to find a wife and marry and settle down. Um, of course you know, as with all fairy tales he refuses. And so this is what sets us off on our journey. And so, he keeps refusing these suitors that are being brought to him, or I guess, female suitors, whatever the equivalent of that is…  Potential brides that are brought to him… And, uh, one day he finds refuge in their, uh, family’s great orchard, in the backyard of the castle… And… In doing so he… Stumbles upon an orange tree and sees a beautiful woman, sitting in the tree. And it seems to be known that this woman seems to have been grown from this orange tree. She herself is an orange, um… But she is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, and she has this beautiful voice, and… Yada, yada… So they start this kind of cute little affair where um… He will come to the woods and listen to her play music and recite poetry, and he just, he falls so in love with this woman. Uh… And one day a troll… A one-eyed troll… Uh, invades… The castle… And steals the princess… And I’m trying to recall if this is the prince’s fault? ‘Cause he wasn’t doing his duty? Or if the troll was just sort of like an ex machina thing… But the troll comes, steals the princess, and the boy goes on this quest to find her… I believe the boy goes down a well into the troll’s dwelling, which is underground, uh… And he finds where the princess is… And he has to––oh and he takes with him––he makes a plan to get the troll. And he takes with him a little bag that has, uh… A thing of salt in it, and jacks. Like the pieces in the game Jacks… I want to say there was something else… But it’s not coming to me right now. Effectively, he gets close to the troll. He does kind of like a traditional folktale thing where he’ll trick the troll to get close to him. Um… I think there’s a meal and the troll falls asleep ‘cause  the troll is so full. Perhaps that other thing that he brought––oh, I think he brought a chicken. And he––and then the uh… The troll got so full off of the chicken. And so now the troll is knocked out, the princess is there, he grabs her and when he tries to escape, the troll of course wakes up, and starts chasing him. So then he gets the jacks and he throws the jacks on the ground, and the troll starts stepping on them and he’s in pain and he falls over. And once the one-eyed troll falls over, the boy throws salt into the troll’s eye. And the troll’s in so much pain and he’s blinded so he can’t chase them, and he and the orange princess escape out of the well and live happily ever after and then she becomes his, uh, his queen… Uh, that he decides to marry. 


Informant: This story is something that was orally told to me. Until we found like a picture book at like a Barnes and Noble. And this was in like elementary school… And um… OH! Oh no…  I think I actually… I think I kind of conflated––I actually just conflated those two. Two different stories! ‘Cause I think there’s like a “Jack and the Beanstalk”-esque… Persian story, where like a poor farm boy has to go and like…  Best the troll in order to survive, and he has to like… Trick the troll, and so he brings the chicken and the salt and the jacks. Um… And there’s the troll in his well… And then there’s a totally separate story about the orange princess. And I think the problem with the orange princess… Um…  There was something where… The… Prince disrespected a witch…  And…  She effectively cursed that they then couldn’t be together… Um, but eventually they were able to marry.


The conflation of two tales to create a new hybrid tale showcases the variable nature of folklore. When stories are passed on through oral tradition, it is likely that they will fluctuate and change, as there is no written guide ensuring the story remains the same each time. This variation may be caused from faulty memory, which is what the informant was experiencing. In misremembering “Nāranj o Toranj,” the informant created a new tale. If he had not caught his mistake, he could have continued to pass on this hybrid story, contributing a new version of “Nāranj o Toranj” to tradition. Alan Dundes says folklore must exhibit multiplicity and variation. Human error is one driving factor behind why folklore may change. 

The Fjøsnisse


My informant for this piece is an American of Scandinavian descent. He lived in Norway for a time during high school and learned the language while he was there. He also still keeps in contact with his host family from his time living there, and his son recently spent a year abroad there as well. His family participates in this tradition every year and has neighbors do it for them when they leave town for the holidays.


The legends and myths of trolls are very strong in Norway. They’re supposed to be tiny little tricksters, like gremlins. They live in barns–specifically red barns–so you’ll see a lot of red barns in Norway and Sweden because they bring good luck.

Main Piece:

“On Christmas Eve you’re supposed to leave out what’s called ‘rømme grøt’ which is a porridge made with butter, cinnamon, and sometimes brown sugar. So on Christmas Eve the Fjøsnisse is supposed to come and eat it. If he eats it that means he’s happy with the rømme grøt you brought him, and he’ll bring you good luck–protect your livestock and barn for the year. But if he isn’t satisfied, he’ll cause mischief in your life for the whole next year!”


While this tradition is based around a belief in trolls, it also follows the principles of homeopathic magic. In leaving a bowl of porridge out for the Fjøsnisse, one is using the foods their farm produces in order to protect the sanctity of the farm itself. By using a part to protect the whole, believers in the Fjøsnisse practice homeopathic magic.

“Askeladden Som Kappåt Med Trollet” – Norwegian Tale

Description of Informant

NF (21) is a Norwegian-American, born and raised in Trondheim, Norway before coming to Colorado for middle school. She is fluent in Norwegian and English, is a trained dancer, and presently studies screenwriting and acting at the University of Southern California.


Context of Performance

The informant, NF, sits in her bedroom opposite the collector, BK, her friend and classmate.


NF: So this is… a Norwegian fairytale that I first became familiar with because it was in a Norwegian fairytale book that was read to me when I was young. But, it was also turned into a movie. And it’s a really old movie, it’s gotta be claymation. And it’s bizarre, and it’s kind of creepy, but just seeing the poster of that movie, I was like “oh yeah, I definitely watched this movie a ton when I was a kid.” It’s still very nostalgic and it triggers a lot of memories. So fairytale-turned-movie.

NF: It’s called… and I can spell this out for you later, but’s called Askeladden som kappåt med trollet. Which means… Askeladden is the main character’s name, and it pretty much means “Ash-Boy.” Like Cinderella but he’s a boy. And then som kappåt med trollet which means “who fought the troll” [informant corrects this title later, see Collector’s Reflection]. Cuz trolls are like huge figures in all of Norwegian fairy tales. We have troll statues everywhere. It’s a big part of the culture. So this is what I remember from it.

NF: It’s about this boy, who has two older brothers. And he’s the smaller, younger one. So he’s kind of confined to just cleaning the house and sitting by the hearth. You know, Cinderella again. And I think… the dad needs wood… for the fire? So he sends out the oldest son to go chop down a tree. And when the first son goes he hears a troll that goes like, you know, “You’re chopping down the trees in my forest! I’ll eat you!” And he goes, “Oh no!” and he runs home. So the dad says, “You’re a wimp.” And he sends out the second son and he is a wimp too. He encounters the troll and comes running back.

NF: So finally, the youngest son is like, “I’ll go!” And they’re like, “Haha sure you will.” So he packs a little lunch, and he goes out, and he hears the troll. And I think— I really hope this is right because if I make this up it’s bizarre— but I think he takes out a block of cheese. And he squeezes it. And you know sometimes cheese has liquid in it? So the liquid comes out and so he’s looking at this troll and he’s like, “No, you’re gonna chop down this tree or I’ll hurt you! And this is a white rock.” So he pretends the cheese is a rock and that he’s capable of drawing water from stone. But it’s cheese. So basically he terrifies the troll, and the troll is like, “No don’t hurt me! I’ll do whatever you want.” So he basically gets the troll to cut down all this timber and to go fetch water and all these things that he is supposed to do himself. 

NF: Finally, for whatever reason, they end up at the troll’s house It’s probably like the sun’s going down, it’s late, the troll lives closer than the little boy so he’s like, “Why don’t you come back to my place?” Back to the troll’s place. And the boy has now scared the bejeezus out of the troll. So he has the troll doing his bidding. And what he does, is they’re eating porridge. I think it’s porridge, because porridge is a very popular, traditional cultural food in Norway. They’re eating porridge, and somehow the kid makes it seem like he’s eating an endless amount of porridge. He probably cuts a hole in the bowl, or does something bizarre that I can’t remember. But he eats so much porridge, supposedly, and he forces the troll to keep up with him. It’s basically a masculinity battle. He’s like, “Oh you’re a wuss! You can’t eat as much as I can? Keep up!” And the troll becomes so full that he can’t move. So he passes out, and the young boy runs away. He gets away and he has, you know, the timber for his family.

NF: So yeah, that was a very popular story. And I think that’s how it ends.

Collector’s Reflection

Askeladden som kappåt med trollet actually translates to “Askeladden, who had an eating match with the troll.” The story seems to follow the traditional “rule of threes,” where two failed attempts precede the final, successful attempt. In this case, that means Askeladden’s two brothers, who failed to beat the troll, and Askeladden himself. Many tales include this three-part structure, including another performance by the informant NF. For the tale Reve-enka, please visit this link:________.

Below is the poster of the claymation film adaptation that NF was familiar with growing up.

The Story of the Trids

Subject: Narrative joke.

Collection: “Uh, so this is… um, let’s see. So, long ago… long ago in a faraway kingdom, there lived a tribe of- of these druid like people. Um… you know, it’s yore, I guess. Um, and they live- lived, it’s this agrarian society, they’re very peaceful, uh, they don’t practice warfare um li-like of any kind, not even like with sticks or anything, you know. They’re just ve- very nice people uh pacifists, no violence. If you swing a punch, like that’s your- that’ it, you’re out of the society. You know, you’re gone. Um… and uh it’s almost a utopia just because of how peaceful it is, and, uh, and sustainable and everything. Except for one thing. All of their crops- they’re separated from their crops by a river. Um, on their side of the river, it’s not suitable for their crops. Um, but on the other side uh, it is. And the thing is, uh, they weren’t the best engineers so they only really managed to build a bridge in like one place. Uh, otherwise they would have to go way, like a couple miles away to like a calmer part of the stream, I mean river. Because it’s a little bit of a wild river. So, uh, so the- they really found that one perfect spot, and then the other good spots weren’t for a few miles, like in the other directions. Um, so they only built one bridge and the thought, like why would we- we need more than one bridge. Um… so and the other thing about these crops is um they’re very, very particular. They hav- they’re very sensitive, um you have to take care of them really well. You know, the right amount of water, the right amount of food, these people actually sang to their crops. Um, because, uh it-it helped the crops grow. Um, they were very talented musically. And um, oh I forgot to mention, these people are- they’re um, let’s see… yes, they are Jewish. Um, so, and they uh, they’re very talented musically so they’ve go- they have their own fiddler on-on the roof. That’s not the joke, don’t worry. Um, and uh, and yeah, these crops and um the fiddler would go and play to the crops as well. Um, not because that actually helps the crops as much as singing, um but um, just because they’re nice. They’re nice people. And these crops needed to be harvested at a particular time, uh otherwise they were terrible. Um, it’s kind of like, like you know avocados. Like how if… you buy an avocado, an- and it’s not ripe yet. And then it’s ripe for five seconds and then suddenly it’s- you’ve got to throw it in the trash. Or compost it. You got- composting is important. That’s actually a very important part of this society. That’s one of the- the core tenets of their sustainability program… Um, and um so yeah. It’s not exactly like an avocado, like you harvest them and then they’re ripe for a small amount of time. It’s that they have to be harvested at a perfect time. Um but that’s like, the avocado was just like the closest analogy I could come up with to help you understand because the particularity of these crops is a very important part of this story. Um, it’s- it’s you know, it’s one of the main character motives for this society, this group of people. So, I really want to hit home that just like an avocado, there’s a really small window where they’re good to go. And, uh, one day it’s harvest season and they’re like, ‘let’s go, let’s go. This is the window, let’s go get these crops’. Uh so, they all prepare to cross this bridge, when from under the bridge a troll jumps out and um they’re like, ‘what, we’ve never seen this troll before, where did you come from? Uh, and who are you? Uh, will you allow us to pass’. And the troll says, ‘no, this is my bridge. And none of you will pass’… and uh, and the troll says, ‘none of you will go back either’. And they go, uh, they go, ‘No, what does tha- what? We’re going to be stuck here forever?’. And uh the troll says, ‘No, I’m going to kick you into the river’. And they go, ‘What?’ [laughter]. And so, one by one he kicks all of them into the river. And they’re fine though. Uh, It’s a, you know, it’s a bit of a wild river, but they’re all okay, none of them have any broken bones or anything, because they just fall into the river and the river, it- it sweeps them pretty far away, you know. Because, like I said, the only good places for a bridge is where that place, and then like really far away, and they get swept all the way there. Many miles away. And they- they’re- they manage to get out of the river and they’re alright. They’re wet, they’re a little wet you know, it’s not fun… And uh, so all their clothes are cotton and cotton shrinks., is the problem. So, they’re worried about their clothes, and they’re worried about the crops, they just got sweeped down the river miles away, they’re running out of time for these very time-sensitive crops that need to be harvested. Otherwise, they won’t have any food. And they don’t know where this troll came from or why it’s there or why he’s kicking them or how to get around him. So, they go and they go, let’s try again. So, they go and they try again and the same exact thing happens. Again. Uh, and… threes are also a very important part of this story, because the rule of threes contributes very heavily to the comedic effect, um… But the other thing about the three is, uh, you know these people, they’re, uh, they’re called the Trids. Because they love the number three. And, uh, uh, uh the Trids. Um, so plenty of things are based off the number three. The fiddler, all the songs that he plays are- they’re in three. Like 1-2-3, 1-2-3. When the sing to the crops, it’s in three. Part of their sus- their sustainability program is actually a three-point program, and the composting is one of the three points. Um, and also, the- their sustainable fields are like organized into three sections. Um, so they’re big on threes… So, they go back and the second time, you know, the second time. And the third time, they’re like, ‘What can we do?’. So, they go back to the town, um, and they get the rabbi. And the rabbi, and they say, ‘Rabbi, there’s a troll on the bridge who won’t let us get to our crops’. So, he goes, ‘Oh my goodness! Uh, that’s why you guys aren’t back with the crops yet’. And they go, ‘Yeah! What do we do?’. And he goes, ‘Oh, I don’t know. I’ve never dealt with trolls before. Um, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ll try talking to this guy’. You know. And so they go back again to the bridge. This time with the rabbi at the front. And, uh, the rabbi says, uh, to the troll, ‘Uh, I am the rabbi and these are my people the Trids, please let us pass. We have these very important time-sensitive crops’. And the troll says, ‘No, I’m going to kick you again’, And he starts kicking people. And the rabbi is like, ‘hold on, hold on, hold on! Stop kicking people’. And the trolls are like, the troll is like, ‘Okay, I’ll stop for like three seconds. And the rabbi says, ‘Please just tell me why you’re doing this’. Uh and the troll’s like, ‘No’. And, uh, so he starts kicking people again and the rabbi is like, ‘Come on. Hey, stop it! Stop it’. He ju- grabs the troll and starts shaking him and he’s like, ‘Why are you doing this’. And the troll is like, ‘Get off of me old man’. And uh, you know, he shimmies out of the rabbi’s grasp, the rabbi is pretty old you know. He- he’s not very strong. It’s- it’s -it’s not an even match-up. And finally, Uh… the rabbi… um… invokes God and says, ‘In the name of God, I command you to stop and tell me why you are kicking my people off the bridge’. And, uh, and he’s like, ‘Is it, you know, tha- is it a personal thing? Like, are you guarding the crops?  Like, I don’t understand’. And the troll goes, ‘Silly Rabbi, Kicks are for Trids’.

Background Info: M. Takla is currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering. He is from Foster City, CA.

Context: M. Takla told me this joke over dessert, sitting outside around dusk. I challenged him to a joke off, through which we both learned each other’s best narrative jokes. I then asked to record him telling this joke for my collection.

Analysis: This joke subverts the expectations for a typical punchline while employing traditional narrative elements on which the narrator is free to embellish. First, the narrator sets the story in days of “yore,” setting up the expectations that this will follow the formatting of a normal tale. Therefore, when the whole story leads to a joke, the subversion of the typical genre lends the joke its surprise and humor. Second, the story (rather openly) capitalizes on the tradition of tales to introduce an activity or patter three times before arriving at the punchline. By building to the punchline in this way, the joke comments on its dual roles as narrative and joke so that the genre of tale is mocked.

This joke also interacts with institutional and copyright culture, playing off the motto of Trix cereal brand: “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Kids”. Therefore, it can be determined that the joke emerged Terminus Post Quem the television and network advertising. Without these commercial systems, the aesthetics of mocking brand marketing would not have emerged. Furthermore, when hearing or telling the joke, the individual recalls their experiences with the cereal, usually from childhood, locating them within a group. The combination of these factors affords the joke its immediate humor and, then communicates further mocking of childhood elements such as the tale and Trix breakfast cereal.

For Further Research: For reference to the Trix marketing and commercials that popularized the phrase in the 1970’s and 1980’s, refer to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUIYYx2n1bI.

The Trollmom’s Lullaby

Informant was a 20 year old female who was born in Sweden and currently lives in the United States. She came to visit me.


När trollmor har lagt sina elva små troll

och bundit dom fast i svansen,

då sjunger hon sakta för elva små trollen

de vackraste ord hon känner:

Ho aj aj aj aj buff,

ho aj aj aj aj buff,

ho aj aj aj aj buff buff!

Ho aj aj aj aj buff.

Informant: There’s a song that my mom would always sing to me in Swedish about trolls. It’s called Trollmors Vaggivisa, which literally translates into The Trollmom’s Lullaby. It’s about how this trollmom puts her 11 kids to bed, and the kids are trolls obviously, and how she sings a song to them after, and then it literally says when troll mom puts her 11 small trolls to bed and ties up their tails.

Collector: Wait, do trolls have tails?

Informant: These trolls do. And then the last part of the song says that she sings slowly to the 11 small trolls the prettiest words she knows. And then it goes like “ho ai ai ai ai buff ho ai ai ai ai buff ho ai ai ai ai buff buff ho ai ai ai ai buff.”

Collector: What does that mean?

Informant: It doesn’t mean anything. It’s giberish. It’s just supposed to be the prettiest words that the mom knows. And my mom used to sing this to me when I was a kid, and she has always sung it to us even when we were older. When I was in France and missing Sweden, she would always sing that to calm us down and put us to sleep, actually. It reminded me of home.

Collector: Why do you liked this song?

Informant: I think there was always something comforting about my mom singing it to me. It was calming and it made me feel like I was back home in Sweden.

I found this song particularly funny, because there isn’t really any meaning to it at all. I think that’s what makes this song particularly endearing, because it’s a cute little bedtime story about trolls. Even though it’s a song about trolls, it has significant meaning for my friend, as it connects her to her Swedish culture. Being international myself, I know how hard it can be to be away from home, and how important it is to have things that can connect you back to your culture.