Homer’s Threshold: The Liminal Text and Loss of Ecolinguistic Diversity in Early Literature
Nakibuddin Haider Navid
Abstract: The earliest literary texts provide us with a glimpse of the beginning of literature in mythology. The oral tradition in which these myths were preserved were later collected into the primary epics such as Homer’s The Iliad. As transitional texts that bridge the oral tradition and a culture informed and molded by written language, these texts demonstrate the quality of liminality. This paper therefore seeks to place Homer not in the Oral-formulaic school, limited to stock-epithets, but to a transitional period between the oral and the written, with references to language that suggest an inherently written quality in epic poems. Homer exists in such a threshold between two points: mythology and literature, mythos and logos, the sacred and the profane, and ultimately between oral and written language. By applying the theories of ecolinguistics, this paper examines the liminal texts of Homer in the context of Bronze and Iron Age narratives, and concludes how such early literary texts with myths of heroic city-builders, divine architects, and the politics of establishing an urban language, ultimately sacrifice linguistic diversity. This paper is therefore ultimately about what is lost in translation between the oral and written, and concludes that such loss of ecolinguistic diversity is characteristic of the threshold that Homer occupies as evident in the language of The Iliad.
Keywords: liminality, ecolinguistic diversity
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Published in 2017