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Orality and writing among the Bugis

To cite this article: Pelras, Ch. 2016. Orality and writing among the Bugis, trans. Macknight, C. C. In Orality, writing and history: The literature of the Bugis and Makasar of South Sulawesi, ed. Druce, S. C. International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies 12 (Supp. 1): 13–51, http://dx.doi.org/10.21315/ijaps2016.12.s1.3


The phrase “oral literature” is most often used to indicate the forms of expression to be found either in societies without writing or in parallel with a great tradition of written literature. In both cases a comparison, indeed an opposition, seems to be implied, at the base of which really lies a particular concept of written literature. This concept is very much at risk of being unconsciously influenced by features which belong only to the written literature of certain “great civilisations,” in particular modern Western civilisation. It therefore seems necessary first to look briefly at these features before tackling the case of the Bugis where oral expression coexists with written expression; this written expression is important, but has notably distinct characteristics


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