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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Recitation, Speech Acts, and Declamation

  • Author(s): Meyer-Dietrich, Erika;
  • et al.

Ancient Egyptian texts have been found with instructions on how they should be performed. Recitation, speech acts, and declamation are related to the action of speaking out loud in religious-ritual and juridical contexts, as well as for entertainment. Recitations are used in contexts that demand a correct wording or the power of words as utterance. Speech acts are performative or operative texts, which have an effect by being spoken out loud and result in a change of the persons or objects that are addressed by the text. Declamations are a performance of literary compositions to an audience. The basis on which texts can be considered as part of a recitation, speech act, or declamation are not only in-text terms but also indications of their performance-context, their localization in an accessible place, and their performance by an authorized person.

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