Tom yaya kange: A metrical narrative genre from the new guinea highlands

Alan Rumsey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Contra Parry (1930) and Lord (I960), and orality theorists inspired by their work, Tedlock (1983) has argued that metrical verse arises only under the influence of alphabetic or syllabic writing. Reviewing Parry and Lord’s findings concerning Homeric and Yugoslav traditions, I compare them with my findings concerning torn yaya kange, a metrical genre from New Guinea that provides a strong counterexample to Tedlock’s generalization. Comparing this ethnographic case with another region in New Guinea where metricality is not used, I argue that such differences are best understood not with reference to extrinsic enabling conditions such as the presence or absence of writing, but by examining how uses and effects of metricality are mediated by specific linguistic and aesthetic ideologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-239
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Tom yaya kange: A metrical narrative genre from the new guinea highlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this