that accounts for the existence side by side of terms and linguistic
forms from the Mycenaean dialect of the Achaean heroes, from
the contemporary world of Homer himself and from many ano-
nymous generations between.
And furthermore (1976:38):
. . . the conservative oral tradition preserved many old usages,
although with no special consistency.
The Todas, a small Dravidian speaking people of South India have
a remarkable poetic tradition. Emeneau (1958:320) remarks on the
language of their poems:
The morphology, especially of the verb, is different, whether more
archaic or merely a contrived difference I cannot yet say. In a few
points, by comparison with related languages, it has been possible
to identify archaisms of morphology or of vocabulary.
And Finnegan (1976:88) has this to say about the court poetry of
The style was full of archaisms, obscure language, and highly
figurative forms of expression.
The linguistic dating of a document where written tradition is
abundant may be difficult enough, but in the case of a composition
in poetic diction handed down orally in an illiterate society it is almost
bound to fail.
(e) Another characteristic of Norse court poetry is its lack of dialect
features. It is possible to envisage different explanations of this: (1) It
is possible, but not likely, that dialect differences were negligible. (2)
Dialect differences gradually disappeared when the poems were handed
down or when they were written down. (3) There was a special poetic
language or dialect. The material at hand does not permit of an answer
to this. But special poetic languages are common elsewhere, languages
based on one dialect or composed of features from different dialects,
and containing old and young elements. Renou (1956:10) has this to
say on the Rgveda:
Bien que dú á des auteurs multiples, préparé dans des localités
séparées, il ne présente guére de diversité dialectale. Autrement