Say it, storyteller!

the storyteller

“And then they……” Storyteller image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image.

I am a copywriter, but by nature, I’m also a storyteller. Like author Isak Dinesen (a.k.a. Karen Blixen), I love to hold people enthralled while I relate some interesting bit of history or an amusing incident.

The French language has a marvelous word for storyteller: raconteur. So does Irish Gaelic: Seanchaí. (Can somebody please tell me how to pronounce that word?)

In Ireland, the storytellers would travel around from place to place, sharing tales and acting as oral historians. I love the image that conjures up of someone wandering through the Irish countryside, being welcomed from one village fireside to the other and everybody settling down spellbound to hear what the seanchaí said.

To amuse you today, I’ve compiled a list of how other cultures use the word “storyteller”:

Italian: Narratore

German: Erzähler (in German, the verb “erzählen” means to tell, relate, recount or narrate)

Spanish: Cuentista

Dutch: Verteller

Finnish: Sadunkertoja

Danish: Historiefortæller

Portuguese: Narrator or Contador de histórias

Norwegian: Historieforteller

Russian: Rasskazchik (means narrator, storyteller, teller or tale-teller)

Interesting, isn’t it, that the word for storyteller in several languages is tied to oral history and passing stories down through the generations? I love the continuity of that in family stories; we get to recount what happened to those who came before us and amuse the people of today, whether they’re friends or family.

It’s a rich way of preserving history and I hope we never completely lose it, even in this day of smartphones and tablets. Maybe we aren’t gathering around the fires so much anymore (pity) but there are plenty of good stories still to be shared worldwide on video. Maybe the social media sites, smartphones and tablets have become our modern storytelling fireplaces, in a sense. What do you think?




Filed under Writing

8 responses to “Say it, storyteller!

  1. The best writers are storytellers. Bards were the “refashioners” of history in the past, probably storytelling at its most potent. I like to think that all of us are storytellers in our own way. Good post! Thank you!

  2. Great post. As a story teller in training (after 40 + years of writing) I love the idea of every culture having a word for us.

    In response to your question about how to pronounce the Gaelic word, Seanchaí, it seems to have promoted quite a language kerfuffle:

    I would guess it would sound like she an a khay, where the kh sounds like the end of Loch or Bach

  3. I work as a copywriter but I sincerely believe I was born to be a storyteller. When I read the first line of your post… I was like, hey me too!
    Interesting post. I believe we all have a storyteller in us 🙂

  4. Arabic, too, is historically rich in the oral tradition:
    Storyteller = Hakawaatee (phonetic approximation) 😉


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