Text and Context in Serbian Ritual Lament

Text and Context in Serbian Ritual Lament BARBARA KEREWSKY-HALPERN T e x t a n d C o n t e x t in Serbian R i t u a l L a m e n t In this anthropologically based consideration o f ritual lament as part o f the repertoire o f oral genres in a contemporary "traditional" oral culture, concern is with context as much as with text, with function, with how people communicate in a given social situation. Termed socially constituted linguis- tics, such an approach to language use is known formally as the ethnography o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n 1 The anthropologist Leach has written that "Ritual as one observes it . . . is a complex o f words and actions . . . it is not the case that words are one thing and rite another. The uttering o f the words itself is a ritual."2 His dictum is particularly relevant to a study o f lament, for in funerary rites and other ritually prescribed memorial rites in many areas in the Balkans, speech and, within it, the act o f lamenting serve a vital function in maintaining http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Canadian-American Slavic Studies Brill

Text and Context in Serbian Ritual Lament

Canadian-American Slavic Studies, Volume 15 (1): 52 – Jan 1, 1981

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 1981 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0090-8290
eISSN
2210-2396
D.O.I.
10.1163/221023981X00057
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

BARBARA KEREWSKY-HALPERN T e x t a n d C o n t e x t in Serbian R i t u a l L a m e n t In this anthropologically based consideration o f ritual lament as part o f the repertoire o f oral genres in a contemporary "traditional" oral culture, concern is with context as much as with text, with function, with how people communicate in a given social situation. Termed socially constituted linguis- tics, such an approach to language use is known formally as the ethnography o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n 1 The anthropologist Leach has written that "Ritual as one observes it . . . is a complex o f words and actions . . . it is not the case that words are one thing and rite another. The uttering o f the words itself is a ritual."2 His dictum is particularly relevant to a study o f lament, for in funerary rites and other ritually prescribed memorial rites in many areas in the Balkans, speech and, within it, the act o f lamenting serve a vital function in maintaining

Journal

Canadian-American Slavic StudiesBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1981

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