edited by James J. Fox
This collection of essays is a major contribution to the study of oral composition and ritual communication, and in particular to the use of 'parallelism' (the poetic ordering of words and phrases in alternative, duplicate form). The introduction by James J. Fox sets the topic in historical perspective, beginning with Robert Lowth's introduction of the term 'parallelism' in 1753 in his study of biblical language, demonstrating that what was once viewed as a form of composition unique to Ancient Hebrew is a feature common to many literatures around the world. The volume thus presents a remarkable picture of life in eastern Indonesia, which is both valuable in itself and useful for comparative analysis. All of the essays contain original texts with translations, together with detailed commentaries on their content and the context of their performance. The study of parallelism and its use in situations of formal communication has been receiving increasing attention from anthropologists, linguists, and all those interested in oral literature, as a topic of real theoretical and ethnographic interest.
To Speak in Pairs represents an important advance in the study of oral literature in context.