Duranti1997_Greetings

It should be understood that what follows is not an

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Unformatted text preview: investigations to support it. In the rest of this article, I will offer a brief discussion of Samoan greetings as a way of assessing and refining some of the claims made so far. In particular, I will be concerned with two main issues: (i) the relationship between universal features and culture-specific instantiations of such features, and (ii) the distinction between verbal expressions that are greetings and those that, although they might look like potential candidates, are not greetings. It should be understood that what follows is not an exhaustive study of Samoan greetings. Such a study would require a project expressively designed with the goal of collecting all types of greetings used in Samoan communities;9 in fact, as far as I know, such a comprehensive project has never been attempted for any speech community. Although the data discussed here are drawn from a range of interactions originally recorded for other purposes, they do contain a considerable number of exchanges that qualify as greetings according to the above mentioned criteria. Furthermore, in using Samoan data, I have the advantage of relying on previous studies of language in context carried out by myself or other researchers. Four Types of Samoan Greetings On the basis of the criteria mentioned above, I examined audio- and videotaped data collected in a Western Samoan community during three periods for a total of a year and a half of fieldwork.101 identified four types of exchanges that can qualify as "greetings": (1) talofa greetings; (2) ceremonial greetings; (3) mate greetings; and (4) "where are you going?" greetings.11 The analysis presented here is also based on my own observation of and participation in hundreds if not thousands of Samoan greeting exchanges. Before discussing these four types of greetings, I need to mention a few basic facts about the community where I worked; more detailed information on this community may be found in Duranti 1981 and 1994 and in Ochs 1988. (For a more comprehensive ethnography of Samoan social life, see Shore 1982.) Despite modernization and a considerable amount of syncretism in religious and political practices, members of the Western Samoan community where I carried out research still hang on to traditional Polynesian values of family relations and mutual dependence. Their society is still divided between titled individuals (matai) and untitled ones (taulele'a), and the matai are distinguished according to status (chiefs, orators) and rank (high chief, lower-ranking chiefs). Having atitleusually comes with rights over land and its products and the duty to participate in decision-making processes such as the political meetings called fono (see Duranti 1994). Status and rank distinctions are pervasive in everyday and ceremonial life in a Samoan village. The language marks such distinctions in a number of ways, the most obvious of which is a special lexicon called 'upu fa'aaloalo 'respectful words' used in addressing people of high status and in talking Universal and Culture-Specific Properties of Greetings 73 about them in certain contexts (see Duranti 1992b; Milner 1961; Shore 1982). Such words are p...
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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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