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  1. beascarpetta's Avatar
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    #1

    historicity

    Hi there.

    I've just finished yet another essay on Homer's Iliad (as requested for preliminary testing for Oxford) and suddenly I'm having grave doubts about the phrasing of the sentence below.

    The extent of the historicity of both the Iliad and the Odyssey has been debated throughout the centuries.

    or would you rather go for

    The extent of historical accuracy of both...


    I've always managed to work around expressions like that before.

    Would any of you British native speakers be so kind as to take a minute and have a look at it?
    Thank you so much.
    beascarpetta

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: historicity

    Hi Bea,
    Personally I would go for The extent of the historical accuracy of both...
    in the interests of clarity.

  3. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: historicity

    I'm not a teacher, but NZ English is often perceived as being quite close to British English, and for me, historicity wins here. I say that because I think it means something a little different to "historical accuracy". "Historicity" as used here, and in the OED, refers to
    Historic quality or character (opposed to legendary or fictitious
    . So to speak of something's historicity is to distinguish it from a myth. To speak of "historical accuracy" is to measure how accurately that non-mythical event has been recorded.

    As an example, I would say that the historicity of Henry V is beyond dispute, but that the historical accuracy of Shakespeare's biographical play about him is open to question. So too, the historicity of Troy is unquestioned, while the historicity of Homer is disputed, and the historical accuracy of the Iliad is highly suspect.

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    #4

    Re: historicity

    I am not a teacher, a native speaker or a historian.

    The extent of the historicity of both...

    The extent of historical accuracy of both...

    I think the terms above have slightly different meanings as stuartnz pointed out.
    Historicity is historical authenticity, a question of fact or myth.
    Historical accuracy is about exactitude or the closeness to the truth which historical details are written.

    I'd say 'historicity', though sounding a bit esoteric, is more appropriate in the context of the sentence.

  4. Soup's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: historicity

    Quote Originally Posted by stuartnz View Post
    ... historicity wins here.
    Most agreed--especially when talking about Homer's Iliad.

    _______________
    Historicity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Historicity of the Iliad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: historicity

    Ok, Historicity is a word created in 1880 by someone who had nothing better to do than to create words to replace perfectly good phrases that already existed, in this case, "historical authenticity", just because it was created 130 years ago doesn't make it good. In fact it is an ugly, barely pronounceable word which would not be understood by the vast majority of people.
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 03-Jul-2008 at 03:17. Reason: typo

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: historicity

    I'm happy with 'historicity', but not at all happy with 'extent'. What is being debated is a question; the question may indeed be about the extent to which they are hostorically accurate - but I feel you need to say 'question' (whether you then mention 'extent' is up to you). You could follow either of these models:

    The question of the historicity of both the Iliad and the Odyssey has been debated throughout the centuries.

    The question of the extent to which either the Iliad or the Odyssey is based on or represents historically accurate events has been debated throughout the centuries.

    b

  7. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: historicity

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I'm happy with 'historicity', but not at all happy with 'extent'. What is being debated is a question; the question may indeed be about the extent to which they are hostorically accurate - but I feel you need to say 'question' (whether you then mention 'extent' is up to you). You could follow either of these models:

    The question of the historicity of both the Iliad and the Odyssey has been debated throughout the centuries.

    The question of the extent to which either the Iliad or the Odyssey is based on or represents historically accurate events has been debated throughout the centuries.

    b

    I missed the word "extent" in my first skim reading, but now that I've seen it, I agree entirely. If we accept the OED definition, historicity is an either/or proposition - something is historical or it isn't. Once an event, like the sacking of Troy, is accepted as historical, its historicity confirmed, accounts of that event are debated in terms of how historically accurate they are.

  8. beascarpetta's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: historicity

    Thank you all so much for going to all that trouble.

    I have to confess that plowing my way through Homer's Greek left my brain slightly befuddled.I shudder to think of what damage the rest of my essay will have done to my grades.

    Still, I'll make sure to tell my tutor how all of you contributed to the making of that one beautifully worded sentence.

    Thank you again.

    regards,
    beascarpetta

  9. Soup's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: historicity

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Ok, Historicity is a word created in 1880 by someone who had nothing better to do than to create words to replace perfectly good phrases that already existed, in this case, "historical authenticity", just because it was created 130 years ago doesn't make it good. In fact it is an ugly, barely pronounceable word which would not be understood by the vast majority of people.
    Historical authenticity is ambiguous; Historicity isn't.

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