"The proverb and related forms have long been objects of general interest and the occasion of many books, but they have attracted little serious and thorough study . . . . The definition of a proverb is too difficult to repay the undertaking; and should we fortunately combine in a single definition all the essential elements and give each the proper emphasis, we should not even then have a touchstone. An incommunicable quality tells us this sentence is proverbial and that one is not. Hence no definition will enable us to identify positively a sentence as proverbial."
"This collection of riddles serves two purposes. It is, in the first place, a corpus of English traditional riddling ... . The widely scattered small collections of English popular riddles are here assembled and arranged systematically. An extensive view of the parallels and of related riddles provides a foundation for comparative studies."
"Such a tale as the "Black Ox," and probably every tale in circulation among the folk, is at the same time a definite entity and an abstraction. It is an entity in the particular form in which it happens to be recorded at any moment; it is an abstraction in the sense that no two versions ever exactly agree and that consequently the tale lives only in endless mutations. The life-history of the "Black Ox" may with some justice be said to be a contradiction in terms, for we have not stopped to define of which version of the "Black Ox" we shall write the history.
In Northern Parallels to the Death of Pan, Archer Taylor identifies over two hundred variants of Plutarch's tale of the death of Pan.
"I shall endeavor to illustrate the more clearly marked groups into which they subdivide themselves and to point out the special characteristics of each group. By this method it will be possible to show that the story has undergone many local modifications and that it enters, in one region or another, into a surprising variety of combinations with other, unrelated themes."