[X] Anthropological Linguistics

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Vol. 54, no. 1 (Spring 2012)


Contents

Ethnopoetic Analysis as a Resource for Endangered-Language Linguistics:
The Social Production of an Arapesh Text
Lise M. Dobrin 1

Round Women and Long Men: Shape, Size, and the Meanings of Gender in New Guinea and Beyond Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald 33

Book Reviews

Multi-Verb Constructions: A View from the Americas (Alexandra Aikhenvald and Pieter Muysken, editors) Jeffrey Heath 87
Ute Reference Grammar (Talmy Givón) Tim Thornes 89
The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr (Charles G. Häberl) Na’ama Pat-El 96
Language, Migration, and Identity: Neighborhood Talk in Indonesia (Zane Goebel) Nancy J. Smith-Hefner 97

Abstracts

Ethnopoetic Analysis as a Resource for Endangered-Language Linguistics: The Social Production of an Arapesh Text

Lise M. Dobrin
University of Virginia

Abstract. The focus of this article is a short narrative text that was recorded during the author’s fieldwork on the endangered Papuan language Arapesh. An explication of the text following the principles of Hymesian verse analysis provides a rich source of evidence about the speaker’s experience of cultural transformation as refracted in the research encounter. This comes across explicitly, through the text’s remarkable content, and indexically through aspects of its form. The analysis helps reveal the subtle and sometimes problematic ways in which fieldworkers as cross-cultural interlocutors shape the encounters that are reified in the documentary objects they produce.

Round Women and Long Men: Shape, Size, and the Meanings of Gender in New Guinea and Beyond

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
Language and Culture Research Centre, James Cook University

Abstract. The concept of gender has three faces. Natural gender (N-gender, or sex), Social gender (S-gender), which reflects the social implications of being a man or a woman (or perhaps something in between), and Linguistic gender (L-gender). L-gender tends to mirror social and cultural stereotypes of S-gender. Recurrent correlations between shape, size, and L-gender choice are a feature of languages of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. After a brief summary of L-gender and the principles of its choice across languages, a detailed analysis is offered of L-gender choice in Manambu, a Ndu language from the Sepik region. It is shown that gender assignment to humans correlates with N-gender and reflects S-gender status. Other nouns have no fixed gender. Their gender depends on the physical properties of the noun’s referent. We then turn to a crosslinguistic survey of other languages, in New Guinea and beyond, where shape and size are deployed as semantic parameters in L-gender choice. Further semantic correlates of gender assignment in the languages of the world include the roles of referents in myths, and salient properties correlating with the position of S-gender (especially relevant for L-gender choice and L-genders switches for humans).


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