Giants in Kemrese Folklore

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In those days, Giants yet lived in Britain. Now, your average Giant was not, in so many words, a being of culture and virtue. Far from it, for Giants were slovenly brutes and thick headed. They eat their meat off the bone and carelessly toss the bones to the floor, which they hardly ever sweep. Now, in those days, Budecca also lived in Britain, right here by the mouth of the Damo[1]. Of course, she wasn't the famous Budecca, all wild eyed and fierce, no; our Budecca was lovely and graceful and every bit the best queen over the little kingdom of Pennow in many years. And more importantly, she was clever. Now you might be thinking, how clever does she have to be in order to trick a Giant? Indeed, most Giants, apart from being slovenly brutes and thick headed and altogether rather dim; any fool could trick a Giant! But this particular Giant we're concerned with, one Gulda by name (which, rendered into sensible language means "fox"), was accounted by the whole hundred around to be quite clever. Gulda had travelled a bit (mostly by getting himself lost); he could write his name, kuldas, in Frankish runes (because Giants had never learnt the Roman letters); and he could cipher (after a fashion). Gulda was proudest of this refinement, for he would proudly recite for anyone that would listen: "Naowt be naowt-an-naowt, yan be yan-an-naowt, twa be twa-an-naowt, thra be thra-an-naowt, fuor be fuor-an-naowt, foiv be foiv-an-naowt, sex be sex-an-naowt, sen be sen-an-naowt, wack be wack-an-naowt, noin be noin-an-naowt, thack be thack-an-naowt, allav be allav-an-naowt, twalav be twalav-an-naowt." To which all of the other Giants in the hundred would say: "Oo ah! Canna thaow harf dee thoi zumz, ah?" Of course, some of the Giants would complain, out of sheer thickheadedness: "Oo, be thaow a muckle thunderwit, Guldan, with aa thy zpaowten, ah?" ... (From: "Budecca and the Giant")

"Yes, indeed, there were Giants in Britain in those days and some of them have names that have lived on in history. Of course, Gulda is most famous in Kemr and appears in folk stories of the Marches, Brechelch and Dunein. Gog and Magog are most famous in England and eastern Dunein. Stories of Giants tend to be set in the old days and in the little kingdoms, probably refering to the dark days after the Romans withdrew and the warlords had to pick up the pieces in the face of Saxon invasion." This according to eminent folklorist Prof. Jan Cowan.

When asked by his students "Who are these Giants of Kemrese legend? How come they speak a form of Old English? Where can I read about them?" Dr. Cowan would reply:

"Well, Giants are traditionally stupid, and that's the Welsh view of the English (broadly considered), so it's reasonable. If the English can count their sheep (real sheep, not the kind you count when you have insomnia) in slightly garbled Welsh ("Yan, tyan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick" is the version I'm most familiar with from up in Cumbria; many others have been collected), and one of their oldest bits of fiction has devils who talk in the British tongue, it's not surprising that the Kemrese should return the (dubious) compliment. Giants and their role in British folklore (English as well as Kemrese) can be studied in any comprehensive introduction to British folklore." (from a lecture on 24 July, 2003).

[1]: The Avon le Dam, or "Ox River".

[PB], [JC]

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