Performatives and Poetics

by R. Scott Garner

Although the South Slavic oral epic tradition has long been appreciated by audiences attending actual performances of the guslari, it has been mainly as a result of these performances’ reduction to written or printed forms that the tradition has become so widely known around the world, especially within academic circles. However, the process of adapting a living tradition from a medium in which it enjoys a dynamic, performance-based existence to one consisting solely of a static fossilization with unchanging texts inevitably causes the loss of much material that is relevant for understanding the poetic works in their original form. In some traditions, for instance, there is the quite difficult task of including paralinguistic features such as song, dance, or gestures. (1) Additionally, some paralinguistic or even linguistic dimensions may not be recognized by the collector as integral to the performance, especially if that individual is a relative newcomer to the traditional experience itself. More directly important for the purposes of this chapter, however, are the choices made by the transcriber regarding which elements of performance to include or omit on the basis of their perceived relevance within the new textualized medium. In such instances, the transcriber must be aware of such concerns as audience participation, aurally appreciated poetic devices, or narrative elements for the particular occasion of performance and then, depending on the purpose of the transcription, decide somewhat subjectively whether or not to enter these items into a text where the new audience may have little use for them.

One seeming result of such subjectivity in transcription is the standard omission in South Slavic epic texts of what John Miles Foley has termed “performatives”. These performatives exist as part of the guslar’s specialized singing register and can be defined as “a selection of non-lexical and otherwise meaningless consonantal sounds that bridge the gap between vowels and thus avoid interruption by an intervening glottal stop” (Foley 1996: 22). Such performatives therefore act as consonantal bridges used to avoid hiatus and are regularly employed by the guslari throughout their poetry, (2) yet these elements of performance that thrive in the oral arena of South Slavic poetry are almost wholly absent within published collections. As Foley has noted (1999a: 292, n. 27), the series Serbo-Croatian Heroic Songs (SCHS), published from the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature at Harvard University, provides the main exception to this rule. Still, even these works have so far included only some of the original performatives, and it is noteworthy that Nikola Vujnović, the native assistant (himself a guslar) who later transcribed many of the performances recorded by Parry and Albert Lord in the 1930s, also chose to omit virtually all of these performatives. (3) However, in the present text edited through consultation of the original acoustic recording of Halil Bajgorić’s The Wedding of Mustajbey’s Son Bećirbey (or ŽBM), we now have an entire poem of 1,030 lines that demonstrates the integral nature of performatives within South Slavic poetry. An analysis of this single song cannot, of course, give us a complete picture of performatives across the South Slavic tradition, but it can demonstrate the possibilities inherent in the traditional system as well as provide an avenue toward an in-depth understanding of at least one singer’s deployment of these integral acoustic elements.

Performatives within Lines


A passage near the beginning of Bajgorić’s song (lines 40-42) illustrates many of the ways in which performatives can be used within individual lines throughout the poem:

Sam se šede dorat okretati
Alone the bay horse began to prance
Po avliji ji tamo vi jamo,
Through the courtyard back and forth,
Prez kandžije hi prez binjadžije.
Without a whip and without a rider.

Here we see instances of [j], [v], and [h] being used to block hiatus in several different line positions and phonological environments, as well as an occurrence (in line 41) of hiatus being allowed to stand (with no performative being inserted within the phrase Po avliji). (4) Although the choices of whether or not to employ a performative and which performative to use may seem at first glance to be somewhat random, a collection of data from the entire poem begins to yield definite patterns. Table 1 reflects the distribution of performatives at each possible position. (5) Since each line in the heroic epic tradition consists of ten syllables, it follows that there are then nine positions at which an intralinear performative may occur, namely at the beginning of any syllable other than the first:

We may then compare these distributions with the frequencies at which word boundaries occur in general throughout the poem: (6)

Here we can see that the occurrence of performatives at positions 2, 5, 7, and 8 is relatively much higher than what would be expected if performative distribution simply corresponded to word boundaries, and we are forced to look elsewhere for an explanation. Answers are easily discovered, however, by delving into the oral traditional nature of the poetry itself.

Performatives and the Deseterac

The deseterac, the decasyllabic line traditionally employed within South Slavic epic, is a structure that shares a symbiotic relationship with the formulaic phraseology it encompasses. Although complex in its variations, (7) this line usually breaks down into two semantic units (or cola), with the first element consisting of four syllables and the second filling the remaining six. Additionally, within these primary cola, further divisions in traditional language can sometimes be made where formulaic components dovetail to form larger traditional integers, a practice found especially in the latter part of the line where a greater degree of interchangeability is licensed by the heightened syllable count. Given such a structure, the distribution of performatives within the poem begins to make sense. Rather than corresponding to the word breaks as manifested on the printed page, the performatives instead appear in a manner consistent with the formulaic “word”-breaks as they occur in the traditional performance arena. Thus, position 5 has a disproportionately large number of performatives in the poetry due to its recurrent function as the juncture between primary cola. Similarly, positions 7 and 8 also employ performatives frequently, as these are the most common locations for sub-partitioning in the line. On the other hand, the phraseology seems to have evolved so that there is relatively little need for performatives at positions that do not coincide with traditional semantic breaks. Such a tendency is even more noticeable if one omits [j]—phonetically the weakest and least harsh performative—from consideration. It is as if the poetry has developed so as to provide its semantic divisions with greater acoustic reinforcement, a strengthening effect categorically more powerful in and important to an oral performance than a textualized medium.

The apparent overabundance of performatives at the beginning of the second syllable is also understandable in terms of a traditional characteristic of South Slavic oral poetry—its additive nature. Of the 90 performatives at position 2, fully 59 follow one of three words: pa (“then”, “but”, or “and”), a (“but” or “and”), or i (“and”). Thus, nearly two-thirds of the performatives in this position are linked to a conjunctive proclitic particle that serves as an interlinear bridge. These performatives then assist with such a transition by linking the proclitic to subsequent traditional phraseology and ultimately providing an added acoustical boost for the larger traditional unit. (8)

Finally, it should be noted that although performatives are regularly employed throughout the poem, there do exist 15 instances where hiatus stands unblocked between vowels in adjacent words in the same line. These occurrences amount to one instance of hiatus every 68.7 lines and are therefore much less frequent than their performative-employing counterparts. (9) Although the number of occurrences is small, the distribution of hiatus corresponds in general with the simple allotment of word breaks, with one important exception; an unusually high rate of hiatus exists for position 7, with four examples. (10) However, many of these instances seem to stem at least partially from an unwillingness on the part of Bajgorić to break up the second colon with an intervening performative. One indicator of this desire on the part of the singer to preserve the acoustic unity of the semantic unit is the fact that the majority of hiatus at this position occurs in a vocalic environment within which one would normally expect Bajgorić to use [v], a performative that for this particular singer often acts as a distinctive marker between semantic units and therefore one that in these few cases seems to be disregarded in favor of preserving the integrity of the unit. In order to further understand this process, it is first necessary to investigate Bajgorić’s tendencies when opting for a particular performative.

Choice of Performatives

In contrast to guslari who employ only one particular consonant in order to avoid hiatus throughout their songs, (11) Bajgorić inserts a variety of sounds as performatives. His most commonly used performative is [v], and, as was mentioned in passing above, it is this sound that can be called upon when the singer wishes to place stronger emphasis on a break between two semantic units. Alternatively, Bajgorić also employs [j] as well as a number of other less frequent consonants. (12) In addition to formulaic positioning, (13) another important consideration in the choice of performative is that of the surrounding phonological environment into which the consonant is to be inserted, a factor that can make itself felt in two very different ways.

The first of these influences is primarily aesthetic in nature, as Bajgorić often seems to choose his performative in order to create an alliterative effect within the line. This tendency is especially evident for bridging sounds other than [v], [j], and [h], as nearly every other performative usage is at least partially a result of this alliterative process. Often the alliteration occurs within the same colon, as in “Slabo svlači va dobro doblači” (line 52, “He doffed his poor garments and donned grand ones”) and “Dje je turska sila nizginula” (line 529, “Where the Turkish army had perished”, with the performative [n] repeated at the beginning of the next line as well). But it may also be employed in order to link two separate cola more closely, as exemplified in line 140, “hIz čizama vodu hiscijedi” (“Squeezed the water from his boots”, where two performatives are used to tie together the beginning and end of the line), and line 1011, “vA ranjeno društvo njizkupiše” (“And they gathered up their wounded comrades”).

Another phonological effect is much more mechanical and intertwined with the fact that the South Slavic epic register is simply a specialized subset within a larger language, and as such it retains many characteristics of speech in general. It is not surprising, then, that performatives—elements that are inserted to avoid a troublesome glottal stop—are themselves further subject to a linguistic tendency toward ease of articulation. Table 3, which provides the usage frequencies for interlinear performatives within various vocalic environments, illustrates this pattern:

For the above table, [a], [o], and [u] are considered “back” vowels, while [i] and [e] are termed “front” vowels. (14) The rates of occurrence for performatives other than [v] and [j] are too low to be of much significance here, but the correlation between vowel type and performative is readily apparent for the other two consonantal sounds. When back vowels are involved, Bajgorić shows a definite preference for using [v] as his performative; for front vowels, on the other hand, he much more commonly inserts a [j] to avoid hiatus. Additionally, the vowel following the performative seems to be of greater influence than the preceding vocalic sound.

Such phonological patterns are readily understood by examining the articulatory mechanics involved in producing such sounds. When one pronounces [i] or [e], the mouth and tongue are in a position similar to that used to produce a [j]. In fact, [j] is often considered the consonantal (or semivowel) equivalent of [i], (15) and it is therefore not surprising that this sound is used as the main performative in this intervocalic environment. (16) Where back vowels are concerned, however, it is more difficult for the mouth to be repositioned to produce [j], and [v] is used instead. This back-vowel employment of [v] may just be the result of Bajgorić turning to this sound as a sort of “default” performative, but it should also be kept in mind that the semivowel closest to back vowels is [w], a sound that does not exist as a separate phoneme in South Slavic, and that [w] is often interchangeable with [v] as languages evolve. (17) Therefore, Bajgorić’s usage of [v] may also have a traditional origin related to the mechanical linguistic processes that seem to regulate his employment of [j] as well. (18)

We have now seen how several different influences mesh to determine performative usage in Bajgorić’s song. Often, it is purely mechanical processes such as ease of articulation that prevail in determining the choice of performative. At other times, the determination is related to the formulaic nature of the poetry and the inherent structures that assist the poet in arranging his semantic units and narrative thoughts. And finally, purely aesthetic concerns can sometimes override all other tendencies in order to foster the creation of rhythmic or alliterating phrases, often for the purpose of narrative emphasis. Performatives, therefore, are not simply the inevitable output of hard and fast rules, but are instead the result of the poet’s concurrent manipulation of several traditional tendencies in varying situations as he provides his poetry with yet another artistic feature.

Interlinear (or Line-Initial) Performatives

In addition to inserting performatives between words within individual lines, Bajgorić also employs these sounds between subsequent lines in an interlinear fashion. Such performative usage actually appears to be somewhat limited in the South Slavic tradition, as not all guslari insert interlinear bridges. Foley has provided a possible reason for such non-usage (1996: 23): “the vocal rest after the ten-syllable line (an instrumental interlude usually equivalent to two syllables in duration) provides enough of a break that hiatus is not sensed as acutely”. Indeed, the role of the interlinear performative as a bridge between vowels seems less important than it is for the parallel employment within lines. Some evidence of this diminished role of the excrescent sound as a hiatus-blocking element can be gleaned from the following table:

This summary, which lists the occurrences of all performatives appearing in each of the possible vocalic environments, shows that the general association of [v] with back vowels and [j] with front vowels holds for interlinear performatives just as it does for intralinear instances. Additionally, all of the other less frequently employed performatives also seem to show tendencies toward one vocalic environment or the other. However, in direct contrast to the intralinear performatives, interlinear employment shows little preference in terms of the previous vowel (the one that occurs at the end of the previous line), so that performative choices based on phonological environment seem to vary only in accordance with the following vowel. (19) A further demonstration that interlinear performatives function not as bridges between lines but as an introduction to the succeeding line only is the usage occurring at lines 459-60, where Bajgorić interposes an instrumental break and pause in his song but then re-enters his singing with a performative, even though the intervening musical interlude and pause would seem to be enough to prevent any sense of lingering hiatus.

A final piece of evidence proving that interlinear performatives do not act primarily as hiatus bridges is the fact that ten lines begin with performatives even though their preceding lines have no final vowel at all. The most conspicuous of these occurrences is that which begins the first line of the poem, “*wOj!* Rano rani Djerdelez Alija” (“Oj! Djerdelez Alija arose early”), with the performative introducing an extrametrical interjection. Although the unique nature of this instance at the opening of the performance might be called into question, the other nine occurrences of interlinear performatives in positions where hiatus is a non-factor are beyond doubt. Seven of these involve a final [m] at the end of a preceding line and one follows a final [š]. (20) In both types of deployment, the usage is in stark contrast to intralinear practices, in which [m] and [š] are considered to have full consonantal value and no performative is added. Therefore, all of the evidence indicates that interlinear performatives are best thought of not as true interlinear bridges but as excrescent consonants used by Bajgorić in line-initial positions to avoid beginning each successive line with a vowel. Any further analysis of these acoustical elements must keep this dynamic in mind.

Even though not all guslari use line-initial performatives, Bajgorić himself is remarkably consistent in doing so, allowing only 15 instances of lines beginning with a vowel to stand without a preceding performative. In other words, Bajgorić’s insertion of line-initial performatives occurs 95.8% of the time, a rate comparable to the 96.3% of the instances in which hiatus was avoided intralinearly by means of performative usage. (21) Additionally, many of these “unprotected” line-initial vowels seem to fall into distinct patterns, although it is difficult to pinpoint exact causes for them. For instance, 7 of the 15 occurrences begin lines that provide transitions between direct speech and poetic narration; several others are used in conjunction with a change of scene or a variation in the ongoing action; and in at least two cases (lines 451 and 452) the guslar seems to omit the performatives simply to couple the lines acoustically. Therefore, most of these line-initial vowels seem to occur not because of “mistakes” on the part of the poet but because of performance-based decisions as Bajgorić takes various acoustic, narrative, and perhaps even formulaic factors into consideration.

Such traditional influences are also apparent when Bajgorić does choose to insert a line-initial performative, and in general many of the patterns observable for in-line performatives hold true here as well. Once again, [v] is the sound chosen most often as a performative, with [j], [h], [m], [n], [l], [k], and [w] also involved on some occasions. The singer’s decision is not arbitrary but rather the result of several interrelated considerations. As was observed for in-line performatives, Bajgorić tends to use [v] when he wants a “hard” semantic break, while usually reserving [j] for intra-colon positions where formulaic unity is desired. Since each line in the South Slavic epic tradition is typically self-contained with little occurrence of necessary enjambement, (22) it is not surprising that performative [v] is found even more often at the beginnings of lines than in the poetry as a whole. Similarly, performative [h] is also employed more frequently in line-initial position than in the middle of the line, a pattern likewise attributable to the harsher sound represented by [h], with the aspirated consonant capable of producing a more emphatic semantic break.

Additionally, as discussed above (see Table 4), the singer uses [v] much more often in conjunction with a back vowel, while employing it somewhat rarely in other cases. Although [j] is used infrequently, it tends toward combination with front vowels in the manner common to the poetry as a whole. The consonant [h] is employed almost exclusively before the words i (“and”) or iz (“from”; in some cases iz is a prefix to another word), suggesting not only a phonological influence but perhaps a formulaic one as well. (23) Other usages of the less frequent performatives also suggest an integral acoustical awareness. Striking examples are line 530, where the employment of [n] creates an alliterating effect with the preceding line, “Dje je turska sila nizginula; / nIzginuli sedmeri svatovi” (“Where the Turkish army had perished; / The wedding attendants perished by sevens”), and the performatives beginning lines 380, 854-55, and 968-69, all of which create alliterating effects with the initial sounds of surrounding lines. In these ways, then, line-initial performatives work in much the same way as intralinear ones, even though their primary functions can be shown to be quite different.

Formulas and Performatives

In the above discussion, several references have been made to performatives and formulaic structure in the South Slavic deseterac, specifically to the ways in which the frequency and variation of performatives coincide with the semantic breaks and basic phraseological elements within each line. Thus, [v], [h], and several other “harsh” performatives were frequently found marking junctures between phraseological units, while [j] and even the occasional tolerance of hiatus occurred more often in the middle of poetic units at positions where phraseological and phonological continuity was desired. However, the interplay between performatives and formulaic phraseology is not limited to traditional boundaries. Although a single poem cannot of course provide us with an overall picture of the formulaic implications of performatives over the entire South Slavic epic tradition, Bajgorić’s performance does allow us at least to glimpse the complex alternatives inherent in the traditional system.

Admittedly, the vast majority of performatives within Bajgorić’s ŽBM occur in conjunction with phrases making only one appearance in the work, and no formulaic analysis is possible in these instances. Other phrases, however, are repeated within Bajgorić’s poem and thus provide important clues for the formulaic deployment of performatives. One class of these traditional phrases consists of repeated units preceded by a conjunction, either a (“but” or “and”) or i (“and”). In such cases, performatives do not seem to be restricted to one consonant or another based on the words that follow but are instead subject only to the phonological and colon-bounding tendencies examined above. Such variation would logically be expected because of the paratactic nature of conjunctions and the fact that proclitic particles are not usually integral to the semantic units with which they are coupled. These features make it difficult for one particular consonant to be fossilized as a performative in such environments. Other elements seemingly outside formulaic constraint are interjections such as E!, Ej!, Aj!, O!, and Oj!. Often, due to vocalic patterns, the choices of performatives in these contexts may seem formulaic, but, taken as a group, these phrases can be seen to vary quite a lot in their prefixed performatives.

Other units, however, are much less variable, and in nearly every case that does not involve an interjection or conjunction, the choice of performative can be seen either as the result of a perfectly formulaic process—that is, with the same consonant being used in each and every case within the same lexical environment—or as an anomaly occurring because of an overriding poetic concern such as anaphora or alliteration. For example, there are 21 instances of the word O (“Oh!”) used to introduce a vocative or another similar phrase within the poem. (24) Twenty of these occurrences avoid hiatus or line-initial vowels by placing [v] before the o. The one case violating this formulaic choice appears at the opening of line 542: “jO tako mi mača ji junaštva” (“O by my sword and by my heroism”). Here, the unusual choice of [j] as the performative in defiance of both formulaic and vocalic tendencies has undoubtedly been made to create an alliterative effect throughout the line. Thus, at all times during the performance both mechanical and poetic processes are in play, with traditional formulas providing a ready-made and yet accommodating template onto which the singer can project his idiolectal or artistic concerns in order to create a more meaningful experience for his audience.

Two other examples must suffice in presenting the formulaic possibilities for performatives. The first of these concerns the accusative phrase okovanu palu (“plated/forged blade”). This phrase appears twice in the poem (at lines 96 and 420), and on the basis of the vocalic and colonic environments would be expected in both cases to appear as vokovanu palu, with performative [v]. However, Bajgorić instead sings lokovanu palu for both instances, using the rare [l] as his preferred performative. For this phrase, then, the singer seems to be allowing formulaic structure to override the usual rules.

Finally, one may point to the nominative forms of the personal pronoun on, ona, ono (“he”, “she”, “it”)—the only ones that begin with a vowel—as an illustration of just how important the bond can be between performative and traditional phrase. The most commonly used form of this pronoun is the masculine singular, on, which occurs 27 times throughout the poem. Normally, on takes the expected [v] as its prefixed performative; however, on the five occasions when on follows the word i, the [v] is discarded and [j] is employed instead. (25) Such variation indicates that performatives following conjunctions—as opposed to those preceding them—do vary in formulaic ways. Ona appears once, meaning “it” (the bear’s head spear, at line 847), and follows the extrametrical syllable u, which can be seen as a phonological parallel for the expected performative [v]. The plural oni, on the other hand, does not use [v] but rather the rare prefixed [m] in line 965. Interestingly, the demonstrative pronoun onaj (“that”) shows identical variations for its parallel case forms within the poem, a fact leading one to believe that the relationship between performative and lexical formula is likely morphophonemic in nature.

Performative Runs

One last observation—this one involving line-initial performatives only—shows how poetic concerns can at any time override mechanical processes and create a “performative run”, that is, a series of lines in which the same excrescent consonant is deployed in rapid succession to avoid line-initial vowels. On occasion, this practice can be applied over quite extended passages, as in lines 84-100:

Jedna puca, što je pod grocem,
One button, which was below his neck,
vOna nosi ji tri kvarta zlata;
Bore another three measures of gold;
vU njoj ima puna čaša vina.
On it was etched a full glass of wine.
vOna stoji puca na čekrku—
That button was located by a winch—
Momak vino za rezervu nosi:
The young man was carrying wine for the reserve:
vAko bi mu do rureta bilo,
If things happened to him as in this image,
Pa bi momak v’oma vožednijo
Whenever the young man got very thirsty
vA da pije vod rezerve vino!
Then let him drink wine from his reserve!
vA na glavu kalpak i čelenke,
And on Alija’s head were a fur cap with chelenke,
*hI* Jedan kalapak, dvan’es’ čelinaka;
A single cap, twelve chelenke;
vA vokolo dvan’es’ perunica,
Encircling it were twelve irises,
Medju njima ptica sokolica.
And in their midst a tiny falcon-image.
Pa pripasa lokovanu palu
Then he strapped on his forged blade
vA vu džepe nasipa cekina,
And into his pockets poured some sequins,
vA na noge čizme ji mamuze,
And on his feet boots and spurs,
vA prigrnu moraču dolamu.
And he threw a purple cloak over himself.
vU bećara nema hizmećara.
A bachelor has no maidservant.

Within this passage 11 of 17 lines begin with [v], and the sequence of performatives helps to provide a unifying acoustic structure for the description of Alija’s traditional dressing scene. Although none of these instances of [v] is unexpected (since the usual influence of back vowels is dominant here), similar performative runs can indeed insert consonants that are contrary to such tendencies. Compare, for example, line 441, which begins with “vIgrajući” (“Dancing”). Due to the influence of the front vowel following the performative, one would expect the chosen sound to be [j]. However, this line falls in the middle of a series of eight verses that all begin with the performative [v] (438-45), and rather than lose such an acoustic pattern to mechanical processes the singer makes an adjustment and sings [v] here as well. (26)

As I hope to have shown throughout this chapter, performatives serve an integral function within the South Slavic traditional epic register, even though they have seldom survived the transition from the performance arena to printed text. Such performatives not only provide mechanical bridges to avoid hiatus or unprotected line-initial vowels; they also allow the poet to exert his aesthetic creativity in a way that has rarely, if ever, been understood by scholars in all its complexity. But by examining a single performance from this tradition, we can take an initial step toward appreciating the ways in which a skilled poet can employ such aural elements in order to increase his poem’s artistry. And as we move closer to receiving the songs in their original performance context, we can in turn make the works more meaningful for ourselves.


  1. See, for example, the concerns raised along with some proposed solutions in Fine 1984: esp. ch. 5.
  2. It should be noted in passing that these consonants are only one of many acoustic and paralinguistic phenomena that could be labeled in a much broader sense as “performatives”. For instance, in what follows I do not consider as performatives those instances where the singer changes one consonant into another (which he does on a somewhat regular basis, especially with [h] becoming [v], [f], or [j]), even though such transformations are often a product of the performance arena.
  3. See further Nikola Vujnović’s Resinging, elsewhere in this eEdition. Such omissions of oral phenomena by native participants are not uncommon crossculturally when textualization of oral performances takes place. Cf., e.g., Miller 1996: 313, n. 16 on Japanese storytelling, as well as the very common deletion by poets around the world of any musical accompaniment in the written record of their songs.
  4. Note that such cases often involve the (untranscribed) semivowel [w] to bridge the two vowels. See further the Commentary note to line 41.
  5. This table does not include performatives acting as interlinear bridges or those found within words. The former type of deployment is addressed later in this chapter within its own section; see note 18 for intra-word performatives. Also not included here are consonants arising from situations such as those discussed in note 2.
  6. The data given for the general word boundaries derives from my own count of a 200-line sample of non- hypo-/hypermetrical lines within the poem. See the Commentary note to lines 1-2, etc. for illustration of why the terms “hypo-/hypermetrical” do not address the performance-based nature of the South Slavic epic decasyllable.
  7. For a thorough analysis of the deseterac, see Foley 1990: 85-106.
  8. It should be noted that this phenomenon also accounts for the somewhat disproportionate number of performatives at position 6, as 10 of the 22 performatives found at that site are also acting together with conjunctive particles to provide a link between the smaller units of traditional phraseology within the line.
  9. The actual ratio of employed performative to unblocked hiatus is 25.7:1.
  10. Found within lines 39, 137, 253, and 672. See also note 4 above.
  11. Cf. Foley 1999a: 292, n. 25.
  12. Employment of [v] accounts for 71.0% of all performatives; [j] is used 22.9% of the time; [d], [dj], [h], [k], [l], [m], [n], [nj] and [s] collectively constitute the remaining 6.1%.
  13. Discussed in greater detail within its own section below.
  14. In reality, the South Slavic [a] is pronounced with the highest part of the tongue in a position more centrally located than the corresponding placements for [o] and [u], which are located a bit further toward the rear of the mouth, but all of these vowels are much further back than the South Slavic [e] and [i].
  15. See, e.g., Pyles and Algeo 1993: 30.
  16. It is, however, important to note that the following vowel, rather than the preceding one, has more influence on the selection of performative here. This tendency could perhaps be an indication that the singer considers the performative to be an integral prefix to the lexical units that succeed it rather than simply a bridge between the two vowels. Such a view is supported by Bajgorić’s interlinear deployment of performatives, where the consonantal sound is unambiguously placed at the beginnings rather than the ends of lines. For further discussion of the interaction between performative choice and formulaic phraseology, see below.
  17. Examples of [w] becoming [v] can be found in certain developments of Proto-Germanic, the Romance languages (e.g., the early Latin [u] becomes Latin [w] and then French [v] before vowels), and the Greek dialects that retained digamma (the Greek equivalent of [w]) and later transformed it into either [v] or [b]. Bajgorić does in fact begin his song with the interjection wOj! as well as allow several instances of intra-word hiatus where [w] acts as a sort of glide between back vowels (see lines 130, 131, and 713; also further note 4 above) and two occurrences of [w] as an interlinear performative (lines 77, 713 [untranscribed]), but as a rule [w] is not considered a valid option in performative deployment.
  18. This tendency to use [v] in back-vowel environments also applies to the few instances in the poem where Bajgorić employs performatives within words. Such usage is quite rare in the poem and is for the most part limited to participles and numbers. The rare need for performatives within words (that is, within minimal lexical units) seems to be yet another instance of the poetry situating itself traditionally in a way that provides for ease of composition.
  19. The distribution of [v] accords with this statement, even though at first glance its employment does seem to vary with the preceding vowel as well. If one looks at the overall data, it is apparent that the variation is proportional only to total occurrences of vowels in that context and not to the preceding vowel. Thus, there are more instances of [v] following a back vowel not because there is a tendency toward this placement on the part of the singer but because more lines end with back than with front vowels.
  20. [m] is by far the most frequent consonant used in the final position of lines by Bajgorić, and it is therefore no surprise that it is also the consonant most likely to be followed by an interlinear performative. The occurrences of interlinear performatives following [m] are at lines 63, 68, 85, 313, 555, 632, and 767; the one usage after [š] is at line 832. On the use of [m] as a performative throughout the poem, see the Commentary note to line 156.
  21. The rate given for line-initial performatives does not include usage at the beginnings of nine lines that start with extrametrical elements. However, in most of these cases, the initial vowel is actually functioning as an introductory glide preceding another vowel, thus allowing a vowel to serve a purpose very similar to that of a normal performative rather than counting as an overflow element that causes a true hypermetric line. See further the Commentary note to lines 1-2, etc.
  22. Cf. Lord 2000: 54: “Very rarely indeed does a thought hang in the air incomplete at the end of the line; usually we could place a period after each verse.” For statistics on various South Slavic singers’ use of enjambement, with discussion, see Foley 1990: 163-64.
  23. See below the section on formulas and performatives. The only exceptions to this pattern are lines 781 and 871, with the latter instance occurring just before the interjection Ej!.
  24. At lines 226 (twice), 339, 363, 429, 455, 469, 491, 542, 543, 544, 650, 659, 671, 699, 732, 769, 812, 933, 952, and 973. One additional usage of Oj introduces a vocative at 231. The most frequent of the repeated formulas are O Turćine (9 times) and O tako mi (3 times).
  25. At lines 395, 397, 399, 401, and 1000.
  26. This alliterative effect seems also to infiltrate the in-line performatives in some cases as well; thus the previous line (440) also uses [v] before the same verb in a way contrary to the normal tendencies of the rest of the poem.