Duranti1997_Greetings

It might also give us a sense of the relation between

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Unformatted text preview: continuous stretch of time (e.g., a day) is shown by the fact that two people meeting in two different places during the same day may in fact exchange greetings again. An empirical investigation of when greetings are exchanged throughout a day by a given group of people who repeatedly come into each other's interactional space might provide important clues on how they conceptualize the different spacetime zones in which they operate. It might also give us a sense of the relation between natural units (such as a day-night cycle) versus cultural units (such as a meeting). Criterion 6: Identification of the Interlocutor as a Distinct Being Worth Recognizing The occurrence of greetings and the ways in which they are carried out typically identify a particular class of people. Syntagmatically, a greeting item (e.g., English "hello/' "hi," "hey, how're you doing," "what's up") might be accompanied by address terms or other context-dependent and context-creating signs that identify participants as belonging to social groups of various sorts. Paradigmatically, the very use of greetings (as opposed to their absence) identifies a group of people as members of the class of individuals with whom we communicate in public or public arenas. That this is more than a tautology may be shown in various ways, including Sacks's (1975) arguments that in English the people we greet with the (substitute) greeting "how are you?" constitute a class he called "proper conversationalists." Even in those societies in which apparently any two people entering the same perceptual field would be expected to exchange greetings, distinctions are in fact made. Thus, for instance, among the Tuareg, according to Youssouf et. al. (1976:801), once two people are seen progressing toward one another, the parties must meet, and once they have met, they must greet each other. Such moral imperatives, however, must be understood against the background of a social world in which avoiding greeting would be interpreted as a potentially threatening situation: The desert people have a history of intertribal warfare and intratribal feuds. If the Targi meets another, or others, in [the d esert], the identification of the other—as early as possible—is critically important. For, once another person is sighted on a intersecting trajectory, there is no turning aside . . . for that can be interpreted as a sign of either fear or potential treachery and ambush, which invites counter-measures. [Youssouf et al. 1976:801] This means that, implicitly, the use of greetings can distinguish between Us and Them, insiders and outsiders, friends and foes, valuable and nonvaluable interactants. For example, in many societies children and servants are not greeted. The absence of greetings then marks these individuals not only as nonproper conversationalists or strangers but also as not worth the attention implied by the use of greetings. 72 Journal of linguistic Anthropology An Empirical Case Study Any proposal for universal criteria needs empirical...
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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.

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