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BOOK NOTICES 499 This book contains valuable information on Sumbanese/Weyewa history and culture and a good introduction to the ritual speech genres in Weyewa society and their changing functions in modern society . However, for both linguists and non-Weyewa Sumbanese alike, the book has less to offer than its title would suggest. [Marian Klamer, Vrije Universiteit , Amsterdam.] Essays on Vedic and Indo-European culture. By Boris Oguibénine. (MLBD series in linguistics, 12.) New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998. Pp. xii, 257. A translation of a work published first in French in 1985, the book under review contains a series of essays focused primarily on aspects of the Rigvedic cultural milieu with occasional forays into other traditions , particularly Iranian and Greek. It must be said at the outset that there is very little here that is linguistic. A case in point is Ch. 1, "The Vedic warrior and Homer's skhétlios' (23-58), where Oguibénine addresses the superficial equation of Greek skhétlios and Sanskrit ksqtriya- made by Franklin E. Horowitz (Studia Lingüistica 29.99-109, 1975). Rejecting this comparison, O nevertheless tries to show that the features of warrior-like obstinacy, outrage , and excessiveness which characterize the semantics of skhétlios (a word whose meaning is in fact uncertain) represent features of Indo-European kingship, a notion implicit in Skt. ksqtriya- 'member ofthe reigning order' (bearing in mind the close relationship between sovereignty and warfare among the Indo-Europeans). This kind of analysis, which operates solely on the level of the signifié, no doubt possesses value in the determination of cultural categories, but in intentionally steering clear of the signifiant, it cannot be said to be linguistic. The longest and most significant essay in this collection is Ch. 2, 'Aspects of sacrifice in the Rgveda' (59-142). Here one finds a large number of useful remarks concerning the material setting of the yajña or worship. Thus, it is clear that theyajña was carried out at the instigation of a liberal patron (maghavan) and performed by a poet-priest (rsi), who received remuneration from the patron which consisted of cows (daksina). O discusses this process as involving a means of integrating the patrons, worldly men raised in a culture of cattle-raiding, into the religious activities of the worship. The patrons acquire cattle through their warlike razzias; the poet-priests, through their spiritual activities. This essay also has much to say about the themes of conflict with both the non-Aryan (ddsa/dasyu) and the rival sacnficers and of the acquisition of booty (vaja) which play such important roles in providing the images of Rigvedic poetry. Of the remaining essays, Ch. 5, 'The cooking of poetic words and the creation of double meanings in Vedic poetry' (167-97), deals with the relationship between offering as praise and offering as concrete, mgestible matter and notes that some deities (e.g. Usas 'Dawn') get the former, whereas others (e.g. Indra) get the latter. The theme ofyoga or harnessing is taken up in Ch. 6, 'Primitive Vedic yoga' (199-222), and plays a role as well in Ch. 7. 'From Vedic speculation to Indo-European poetic and religious themes' (223-49). In rendering a capsule judgment, I would say that the book contains many helpful remarks, but the author is poorly served in English translation. The book does not read smoothly (the most unnerving of its infelicities, because of its frequency, is the unidiomatic 'to stress on' something), and there is a certain luxuriance of abstract expression which passes in English for prolixity. More surprising, there are numerous errors in the Rigvedic citations, many of them minor but of the sort that a specialist would spot immediately. These are all the more regrettable because O's translations are of a very high quality and betray the hand of a serious scholar who really knows how to read the Rigveda. I found none of the usual translational howlers. The Avestan citations on pp. 226-34 are a mess. I end by very nearly quoting verbatim my peroration in a prior BN in Language on a book of a somewhat similar nature (66.207-8, 1990): Will readers of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
p. 499
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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