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Homeric VoicesDiscourse, Memory, Gender$
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Elizabeth Minchin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280124

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280124.001.0001

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Hysteron Proteron in Questions and Answers

Hysteron Proteron in Questions and Answers

(p.102) 4 Hysteron Proteron in Questions and Answers
Homeric Voices

Elizabeth Minchin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies a phenomenon first observed by Samuel Bassett in questions and answers in the Homeric epics: the poet's preference for spelling out a twofold instruction, proposal, or question, and in a subsequent passage reversing the original order of presentation. It discusses the ‘device’ in the context of the Odyssey. There are two findings: first, that this practice of answering questions in an order that reverses the order of asking is motivated both by cognitive factors and, following Schegloff and Sacks, social factors; and, second, that, since hysteron proteron is a feature of oral discourse more generally, oral poets in this tradition observed an everyday practice, and mimicked it in stylized form in their songs.

Keywords:   Samuel Bassett, hysteron proteron, Emanuel Schegloff, Harvey Sacks, adjacency pair, stylization, question and answer, short-term memory

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