Authoritative Modes of Speech in a Central Himalayan Ritual


The authoritative character of an utterance depends not only on the social identity of the speaker, but also on the aesthetic power of the style of speaking. Using Jakobson’s six functions of language as a framework, this paper presents two modes of speech realized in rituals of divine possession in the Central Himalayan region. The ritual forefronts two sources of authoritative language—a socially recognized master of ceremonies and an incarnate divinity—each of which has his or her own social source of authority, but also rely on marked forms of speech to solidify their role and convey their messages in an effective way.

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