Staving Isidora Zamora:
>At 01:03 PM 9/5/03 +0100, Pete wrote:
>Given that this is an open corpus of oral tradition, I think it would
>>follow language changes, although possibly as a discrete distance.
>How discrete a distance, do you reckon?  KJV distance or more like the
>difference between colloquial and formal speech today, or something in

I would guess maybe two to four generations of difference - of course it
depends what determines the pace of language change, how long people live etc.

>>  Each
>>bard would learn the poems verbatim from his master during his
>>apprenticeship (assuming that the bard is a special position in society),
>Sort of.  Each child must learn the most ancient of the songs before they
>can become an adult.

The Wavolar have something like this. In her adulthood ceremony, each Wavol
girl takes a poetic oath not to learn or speak any alien language. A Wavol
woman made this oath shortly after the Wavolar were conquered by the Empire
of Yimegan, in order to preserve their own culture. Her village bard was
moved by this, and made sure that it was passed on to other villages. Wavol
men, however, did learn Magikimnaz as a matter of necessity - indeed, many
of them served in the Imperial army, where they were the most renowned of
cavalry. The Wavolar are semi-nomadic herdsmen with a bardic oral tradition. T

>  After that, it is up to the individual how much they
>want to learn.  A lot of people will learn one or more of the more
>important songs or rites (or ones which are their personal favorites.)  A
>few people will spend a great deal of in study learning many of the songs
>well and perfecting their performance methods.  Someone who is able to sing
>a large number of the songs is in a special position in society, and the
>learning of songs can become something of a lifelong pursuit involving
>travelling away from one's home village to find other people who know songs
>that you don't.  The "bards" are not generally itenerant, except as they
>take journeys from village to village occasionally in order to learn and

The bard in a Wavol village is the second most important person after the
chief. Like the chief, he has priestly functions. For exmaple, when the
chief rides around the village on the sacred white horse on the quarter
days, wearing the blue cloak and distributing the gifts of the season, the
bard goes before him singing appropriate hymns. The tradition is passed
down from master to apprentice - this might often be from father to son.

>>and attempt to reproduce them as exactly as possible.
>Yes, I imagine that it would be important to them to try to reproduce them
>>  However, he is likely
>>to subconsciously adapt them to his own speaking style, so sound changes
>>and the like will be absorbed.
>Even a word-for-word reproduction will express sound changes.  (As in the
>example that I gave of contemporary readings of Shakespeare.  Early Modern
>English certainly wasn't pronounced the way we now pronounce it, but
>picking up Shakespeare and reaing it aloud is a word-for-word reproduction,
>but with phonological changes incorporated.
>>  The bard will therefore recite the poems in
>>slightly archaic but understandable language,
>I am thinking that this "slightly archaic but understandable language"
>might be what is used when giving public speeches and in other formal
>>  although there are likely to
>>be fossilised expression here and there whose meaning has been lost in
>>semantic shifts - these would sound cryptic, and possibly become the
>>subject of metaphysical speculation
>I hadn't thought about that, metaphysical speculations, that is.  I may
>have to incorporate some of that into the story....Thanks for the thought.
>>  When new poems are composed, they will be in contemporary
>Contemporary form, or something at a discrete distance from contemporary

I suppose this depends to a large extent on the individual bard - some will
be better able to compose in a contemporary register, others will feel most
comfortable working in the style of the works they have learnt.