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Pragmatics of Archaic Greek Literature


"Pragmatics of Archaic Greek Literature" (PRAGL) is a project whose aim is to apply principles, theoretical models and frameworks of contemporary Linguistics (Pragmatics in particular) to the first literary production of ancient Greece. This production mostly consists of enormously famous texts such as, e. g. the Iliad, the Odyssey, and early tragedies. The research field is intrinsically interdisciplinary, since it combines elements from Sociolinguistics, Cognitive Psychology and Anthropology, beside Pragmatics and Literature. The corpus of texts being selected is particularly suitable for the proposed linguistic analysis, because it consists of the written version of something conceived to be orally performed. This fact influences enormously the language used, the word order, the deictic reference system, the meaning of particles, and so on. Despite of our modern temptation to admire the high significance of this important part of European literature as the result of a 'written' mastery, archaic poetry or prose, dramatic or non-dramatic texts owe their expressivity rather to an `oral¿ mastery. In fact, they share "more than one would think" different pragmatic features, i.e. features revealing something of the situational context of the utterance, or of the relationship between the speaker and his audience, or of the speaker's attitude towards what is said. In the face of historical and current debates on orality in ancient Greece, the scientific contribution of this project is to product a first systematic account of actual linguistic choices and grammatical constructions being orally functional to a successful communication within the archaic Greek culture. This account consists of defining the pragmatic function of such linguistic choices; the result hoped for is to definitely show, through a linguistic analytic investigation, how ancient Greek texts from Eight century to half Fifth century B. C. were orally effective.

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