Riddles claim obscurity. Prophecy claims clarity. Despite this initial divide, the two can be so similar they appear to be indistinguishable. The similarities are both inherent and constructed. This study will explore the similarities between the two both when viewed as verbal genres and when brought into dialogue during the act of performance. Prophetic discourse among the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians provides a particularly informative case study. Tribal members have cultivated an oral tradition of prophecy with rigorous aesthetic, structural, and temporal rules. As the prophecies become fulfilled, however, these rules have become virtually impossible to uphold. Many Choctaw narrators have found a creative compromise by exploiting the similarities between prophecy and riddle. An examination of the structural, functional, stylistic, and linguistic parallels between riddle and prophecy at the nexus of performance shows how Choctaw narrators maintain one tradition by borrowing from another.

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