Martor No. 27 / Year 2022

Une oralité fonctionnelle à l’ère du numérique : le cas d’Olympos (Karpathos, Grèce)
[A Case of Functional Orality in the Digital Age: Olympos (Karpathos, Greece)]

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Mélanie NITTIS
Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, France

Pages: 113-131


Orality; sung poetic improvisation; memory; transmission; digital age.


The cultural life of Olympos, a village on the island of Karpathos in Greece, is organized around sung poetic improvisation. From the time when a majority of the villagers were illiterate to the present, this ritual performance has shifted without changing its nature from “primary orality” to “mixed orality,” which coexists today with “mediated orality,” and is characterized by three main types of transmission. First, this performance is still being transmitted via oral memory since men are able to remember improvised couplets, in particular so as to avoid singing and hearing the same couplet twice. However, it is mainly the women attending the performances who memorize verses, which they can later play back, thus acting like an oral archive. Next, a written memory has developed in addition to this oral memory because some of the women have recorded the memorized verses in notebooks. Further, the emergence of local newspapers has led women to publish couplets in the community life sections. Under their influence, men also began to publish verses in these newspapers, but especially via the new media. Finally, recording technologies have made it possible to broadcast performances without losing their oral dimension. As a result, many recordings made by the villagers are exchanged via social media or broadcast on local digital radios to make them available to Greek emigrants, and in the process become archived. Despite the discrete presence of writing, Olympos oral poetry therefore remains rooted in Olympos’s social life as the community continues to perceive it as a functional form.

How to cite this article:

Nittis, Mélanie. 2022. “Une oralité fonctionnelle à l’ère du numérique : le cas d’Olympos (Karpathos, Grèce).” Martor 27: 113-131. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2022.27.09]

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