Traditional laments and postmodern regrets: The circulation of discourse in metacultural context

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This article locates laments in interdiscursive chains and explores them in relation to four dimensions of interdiscursivity: (1) their inclusion of reported speech, (2) their anticipation and evocation of particular responses, (3) the generic constitution of each lament (its relation to others in the same genre), and (4) the global or local metacultural orientation of laments and related discourses. I argue that links between traditional laments and (post)modern mourning not only are ideological constructions but also are quite substantive. The article raises questions about nonlinguistic, gestural, and melodic modes of textuality and about the tendency of lament to be retrospective and to be labeled "backward." The fact that some voices label lament "backward" or "primitive" at the same time that others generate new laments on "the death of culture" illustrates the fundamental instability of (post)modern metadiscursive regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-71
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2005



  • Circulation
  • Lament
  • Metaculture
  • Postmodernism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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