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Deictic shifting in Greek contractual writing

Klaas Bentein (UGent)
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Abstract
Much attention has been paid to ‘deictic shifts’ or shifts in perspective in Ancient Greek literary texts: studies have drawn attention, for example, to switches from indirect to direct speech, causing a particular narrative effect. In this article, I show that similar phenomena can be found in documentary texts. Contracts in particular display unexpected shifts from the first to the third person or vice versa. Rather than constituting a narrative technique, I argue that such shifts should be related to the existence of two major types of stylization, called the ‘objective’ and the ‘subjective’ style, which are associated with the third and the first person respectively. In objectively styled contracts, subjective intrusions may occur as a result of the scribe temporarily assuming himself to be the deictic center, whereas in subjectively styled contracts objective intrusions may occur as a result of the contracting parties dictating to the scribe, and the scribe not modifying the personal references. There are also a couple of texts which display more extensive deictic alter-nations, which suggests that generic confusion between the two major types of stylization may have played a role. This study is based on all contracts contained within so-called ‘archives’ and focuses on the Roman period, a time during which both types of stylization were common.
Keywords
deictic shift, scribe, deictic center, contract, Greek, subjective style, objective style, Egypt

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Bentein, Klaas. 2019. “Deictic Shifting in Greek Contractual Writing.” Philologus.
APA
Bentein, K. (2019). Deictic shifting in Greek contractual writing. PHILOLOGUS.
Vancouver
1.
Bentein K. Deictic shifting in Greek contractual writing. PHILOLOGUS. 2019;
MLA
Bentein, Klaas. “Deictic Shifting in Greek Contractual Writing.” PHILOLOGUS (2019): n. pag. Print.
@article{8613132,
  abstract     = {Much attention has been paid to {\textquoteleft}deictic shifts{\textquoteright} or shifts in perspective in Ancient Greek literary texts: studies have drawn attention, for example, to switches from indirect to direct speech, causing a particular narrative effect. In this article, I show that similar phenomena can be found in documentary texts. Contracts in particular display unexpected shifts from the first to the third person or vice versa. Rather than constituting a narrative technique, I argue that such shifts should be related to the existence of two major types of stylization, called the {\textquoteleft}objective{\textquoteright} and the {\textquoteleft}subjective{\textquoteright} style, which are associated with the third and the first person respectively. In objectively styled contracts, subjective intrusions may occur as a result of the scribe temporarily assuming himself to be the deictic center, whereas in subjectively styled contracts objective intrusions may occur as a result of the contracting parties dictating to the scribe, and the scribe not modifying the personal references. There are also a couple of texts which display more extensive deictic alter-nations, which suggests that generic confusion between the two major types of stylization may have played a role. This study is based on all contracts contained within so-called {\textquoteleft}archives{\textquoteright} and focuses on the Roman period, a time during which both types of stylization were common. },
  author       = {Bentein, Klaas},
  issn         = {0031-7985 },
  journal      = {PHILOLOGUS},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Deictic shifting in Greek contractual writing},
  url          = {https://research.flw.ugent.be/nl/projects/everyday-writing-graeco-roman-and-late-antique-egypt-i-\%E2\%80\%93-viii-ad-socio-semiotic-study},
  year         = {2019},
}