Popular texts characteristics and types with examples

Popular texts

The popular texts are discursive manifestations that are part of the recreational texts of a particular culture. Their main function is to amuse, entertain and teach individuals through the use of certain narrative or discursive resources that highlight a traditional character.

Within recreational texts are popular and literary texts, the latter being much more valued at a universal level due to their greater complexity.

The popular texts, however, as their name indicates, present a higher level of cultural roots among the different generations that are in charge of spreading them.

Due to their generational transmission, popular texts are commonly prone to all kinds of changes and contributions that are made in order to adapt them to a more appropriate social context, or keep them updated with respect to the cultural development from which they originated.

Within popular texts, various “genres” or discursive forms can be considered that make them so varied and picturesque. Among the main popular texts are the riddle, the song, the joke, the saying and the parody; all of these with multiple versions and ways of manifesting.

Popular text types

1-The riddle

The riddle is a very short popular text whose most frequent manifestation is usually oral. It consists of the presentation of a supposed problem or riddle by a sender so that the receiver can solve it by means of a very short or exact answer.

A popular riddle demands a certain level of cultural knowledge; not of general culture, but of the cultural qualities of the environment where the riddle arises. A person who does not belong to a society and knows its more traditional aspects is very difficult to answer a riddle.

It not only consists of answering and solving the proposed riddle, but this answer in itself invites reflection and always leaves a little teaching that serves as learning for the receiver. It is because of this, among other things, that riddles come to be used in particular contexts.


White inside, green outside. If you don’t know, wait.

This riddle is simple, being created for a child audience. Do you know the answer?

2-The song

The song is a popular text of great variability and diversity, which has a particular characteristic: it needs the music as its companion, otherwise it would be a simple prose or verse . Song without music is not song.

They have their own structure, consisting of verses, chorus, and stanzas. Of all the popular texts, it is common for the song to use a greater amount of literary resources than others.

The purpose of a song is to create a melody in conjunction with the music, to generate emotions in the receptors.

Popular songs are usually very diverse, and present all kinds of content in their lyrics. Some exalt cultural values , others have a more humorous or joking character; some may even relate legends or myths of the place, while another group presents teaching and learning situations.

To ensure understanding and emotional capacity in conjunction with the music, the popular song usually uses simple language.


Happy Birthday Happy
We wish you all
Happy Birthday

Possibly the most popular song in the world.

3-The joke

It is a popular manifestation whose main purpose is to amuse and cause the interlocutor to laugh, by exposing a situation with a varied theme and simple development, but with a surprising and loquacious outcome. The jokes are usually oral expressions, although they can also be found in writing.

The jokes usually present a simple development, which allow to place the interlocutor in context and do not necessarily require their active participation.

If a question is asked, it is usually rhetorical. Finally, the twist or surprise is exposed through a surprising “punchline” capable of causing laughter from the listeners.

Jokes tend to have a wide variety of topics, from content rooted in popular culture to more general knowledge situations. There are jokes that are covered between cultures and societies, keeping the basic idea intact and simply modifying the form to adapt it to a closer group of listeners.

The tone of the jokes is also an aspect to consider within all its variety, since many can present qualities and connotations that could be considered vulgar, alluding to sexual or violent situations.


– Hello, is Agustín here?

– No, I’m uncomfortable.

There are better and worse ones, but they are all intended to make us laugh.

4-The saying

The saying is a popular text with a great traditional load, and that represents a cultural value transmitted through generations. It is a very short statement that is presented most of the time orally (written usually does not have more than one line in length), and that presents a teaching.

The saying applies to everyday situations, but specific to sociocultural life. Whoever uses the sayings must know when they fit, so as not to distort their meaning. It is a way of teaching a lesson, without falling into scolding or criticism.

Sayings usually have a very positive connotation, urging those who receive it to acknowledge their wrongdoing, but remain firm in the future.

They are often used to highlight bad attitudes on the part of others and to highlight obstacles that are beyond the reach of a particular individual.

Sayings constitute what is known as “popular knowledge“, a load of cultural knowledge that has little to do with science, but rather with the life experience of those who have found themselves in all kinds of situations.

Like jokes, there are “universal” sayings that change in form, but not in substance, that adapt to the cultural values ​​of different societies.


There is no worse blind than the one who does not want to see.

A creative way to indicate to a person that you do not want to accept the truth even if it is obvious.

5The parody

It is a popular manifestation with a humorous charge that aims to reinterpret and caricature some elements (be they people, places or events) of a culture.

It can be considered an imitation that incurs mockery, and its manifestation can be scenic, oral, written or even illustrated.

The use of parody as a humorous weapon aims to make a picturesque criticism of a particular situation or subject, without incurring offense and disrespect.

Due to their funny nature, they tend to have a lot of acceptance by people, adopting and attributing burlesque qualities to specific cultural aspects.


In the film The Great Dictator (1940), actor Charles Chaplin characterized himself as Adolf Hitler, possibly one of the most famous parodies in history.


The comic is a short story similar to the anecdote, but with a broader background. It should not be confused with the comic strip, since this comic is transmitted orally, being used to tell a short story that causes sympathy among those who listen to it and later transmit it.

For example, a comic would be a more or less important event that happened to a person from a town. The fact would be so interesting as to be transmitted by word of mouth, but not so important that it appears in the chronicles of the town or in the media.


In Cádiz (Spain) a comic is usually told about the first photography studio that was opened in the city. Apparently, the technology was very primitive and the image was often blurred.

On one occasion, a ship docked in the city and many sailors took the opportunity to take a passport photo. Most left moved, creating unrest among the sailors.

It is said that, to get out of the way, the photographer told them that in Cádiz it is normal for images to be moved due to the east wind. However, they did not have to worry, because from the studio to the port the image would be positioned well.

Of course, the photographer deceived them, but the sailors would have already returned to sea, so they would have no opportunity to reproach him for the deception.


Also called a phrase or idiom, they are witty or cute expressions that, without being literal, give meaning to an idea or fact. They are usually anonymous and are transmitted through popular culture.


Some examples of sayings are: “throw in the towel”, “to what is done, chest” or “cannon fodder”.

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