05 March 2010

Early Greek lyric

The study by Maria Elena de Luna of the Iliad and other Greek texts has something for multilingual critics. Here is the way reviewer Robert Wallace summarizes one of her points (on Hipponax):

"Ch. 2 ('The presence of γλῶσσαι βαρβαρικαί in the fragments of Hipponax') focuses on the question whether that poet's frequent use of non-Greek words reflects the popular mixed language of Ionia (Hipponax worked in Ephesos and Klazomenai), as some have thought, or was a sophisticated literary device. De Luna argues for the latter, profiting from excellent work on early Greek lyric especially by B. Gentili, A. Aloni, and G. Tedeschi."

To multilingual literary critics, such use is always (not just sometimes or often) "sophisticated" or, more precisely, deliberate. A writer can always translate dialectal words into the main language of a text, but choosing to retain the dialectal or other-language word has (or should have) a clear aesthetic intention - to incorporate not just another language but another culture or subculture into the text, thereby enriching the text.

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