No. XLIV (2013)

The Varieties of Formulaic Diction in Turkic Oral Epics

Karl Reichl
University of Bonn

Published 01.12.2013


  • Turkic epics,
  • formula,
  • formulaic diction,
  • pattern,
  • composition

How to Cite

Reichl, K. (2013). The Varieties of Formulaic Diction in Turkic Oral Epics. Balcanica - Annual of the Institute for Balkan Studies, (XLIV), 79–91.


This article tries to show that the formulaic diction on the level of verse line and formulaic patterning in the composition of scenes are closely related and must be studied together. The analysis is done on the example of Turkic epics. Of the formulaic patterns the most prominent one is the variety of use of the attribute ak (white), which appears to be one of the most common epithets in Turkic epic poetry. It is usually connected with cloth (e.g. caftan, yurt), different parts of body (face, bosom), antelope, the lumps of gold given as bride-price and various kinds of arms (sword, spear) etc. It is usually denoted evaluatively as purity and beauty. In this matter Turkic epics share its position with many national epics of the middle ages including Serbian, Old English, Old German etc. The same role is analyzed for the opposite pattern “dust of earth”, and for the two themes: preparation of the hero for his journey and council scenes which are also mutual to many medieval epic traditions such as aforementioned Serbian and others.


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