‘Rhozzum’ is a word of obscure origin that denotes a short humorous tale, often about a local character. They tend to belong (or to have belonged) to oral tradition. Students of folklore, historians of folk literature, and anthropologists (among others) have recorded many of them. They tend also to belong to rural communities and some are very old indeed. Like many other kinds of folk tale they have been classified into types and enjoy a degree of universality. A well-known example is ‘The Irishman’s Hat’ (also called “The Hat that Paid’ and ‘The Hat that Pays for Everything’). The theme is guile and gullibility. In various forms, it is known all over Europe, Asia and the New World. Other instances fairly widespread in Britain are: ‘The Farmer and the “Parson”; “The Three Foreigners’; ‘The Deaf Man and the Pig Trough’ (also known in India and North America); ‘The Borrowdale Cuckoo’ (a very funny story that has variants in different parts of Britain and varies in length considerably); and ‘Growing the Church’- known in Somerset, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire and Suffolk as well as in New York. The rhozzum is a relative of, among other things, the tall story, the shaggy dog story, fable, fabliau, Märchen, and fatrasie.
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