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Unformatted text preview: the predicates
used in the first pair part would support this hypothesis. My experience in
this community, however, makes me reluctant to accept this hypothesis.
Rather, I would favor seeing CGs as the type of greeting exchange that is
appropriate for high-ranking individuals who meet in a closed area, which
is likely to be the site for further activities also involving or indexing their
positional roles. This position is supported by a number of observations.
In Western Samoa, I heard high-ranking persons who met on the road,
for example, while inside a car, apologize for the improper way in which
they find themselves in each other's presence. The expression used is
"leanga tatou feiloa'i i le auala" ([too] bad [that] we meet on the road). This
expression was explained to me by a person who had just used it to imply
that meeting on the road is not the proper way for high-ranking people to
come together. In other words, the implication is "we should have met
elsewhere." Where? For instance, at someone's house. If such a meeting had
taken place, ceremonial greetings would have been exchanged (as well as
food and perhaps gifts). This, to me, indicates that for high-ranking Universal and Culture-Specific Properties of Greetings Samoans ceremonial greetings are part of what makes an encounter proper
The formality or ritualistic nature of the CGs is not a reason for not
considering them greetings. For one thing, such formality is quite common
in everyday encounters. As documented by Bradd Shore, Margaret Mead,
and other ethnographers, Samoans are used to rapidly shifting, within the
same setting, from an apparently casual exchange to a much more eloquent
one, in which fancy epithets and metaphors are used and individuals get
addressed with longer names, inside of longer turns at talk. In other words,
CGs are much more routine than we might think and, in fact, statistically
much more common than the talofa greeting. In Western Samoa, whenever
I went to visit persons of high status, if I entered their house and sat on the
floor in the "front region" (see Duranti 1992a, 1994), I would be greeted with
a CG. No matter how hard I tried at times to avoid the CG by acting
informally and engaging my hosts in conversation, I was rarely able to
avoid it. After a few seconds of my arrival, someone would clear his or her
voice and start a CG with the usual shifting activity marker ia' 'well, so'.
Only kids or young, untitled folks may enter and leave a house without
being the target of CGs. Part of this sharp social asymmetry is still at work
in the Samoan community in Los Angeles, where young and untitled
members of the families I visited are never introduced to me and do not
expect to participate in the greeting rituals that in American society often
include the youngest children in the family.
The "Where Are You Going?" Greeting
When two parties, at least one of whom is ostensibly going somewhere,
cross one another's visual field of perception...
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2014 for the course ANTHRO 33 taught by Professor Wertheim during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.
- Spring '08
- The Bible