Duranti1997_Greetings

The talofa greeting this greeting can be used in a

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Unformatted text preview: art of some of the greeting exchanges that I will discuss below. None of the greetings I d iscuss qualifies as the most "basic" or unmarked greeting item or exchange in Samoan society. As I will show below, the greeting that is the highest on the "formulaic" end of the formulaic-creative continuum, and hence with the least propositional content, "talofa," is the rarest in everyday life and hence is an unlikely candidate for the role of the most basic type or the one the other greetings are substituting for. The Talofa Greeting This greeting can be used in a number of settings, including open and closed areas (for example, either outside or inside a house), whenever two people become visibly and acoustically accessible to each other. Unlike the other Samoan greetings I will discuss below, the talofa greeting is at times accompanied by handshaking, a gesture likely borrowed from past Western visitors and colonial authorities. In fact, this is a greeting that is today most commonly used with foreigners. Contrary to what was described by Margaret Mead (1928:14), people from the same village today rarely greet each other with "talofa" (see Holmes 1987:112),12 which is reserved for people who have not seen each other for a while or have never met before (hence its common use with foreigners and guests from abroad). In an hour-long audiotape of an "inspection committee" (asiasinga) going around the village and meeting dozens of people, I found three examples of "talofa." All three examples involve only one member of the inspection committee (Chief S, the highest ranking chief of the group) who initiates the greeting. In one case, "talofa" was exchanged with a group of chiefs from another village waiting for the bus. Although I have no information on the people who were greeted with "talofa" in the other two cases, the interaction is not incompatible with the hypothesis that the parties involved had not seen each other for a while or are not very familiar with one another.13 Like the expressions used in the other Samoan greetings, tdofa may occur by itself or may be accompanied by an address term, either a name or a title, for example, "talofa ali'i!", or "greetings sir(s)!" Here is an example that shows the adjacency pair format of the greeting and its rather simple AB structure: (1) [Inspection, December 1978: While standing outside, the committee members have been interacting with a woman who is inside the house, when Chiefs directly addresses another woman from the same family, Kelesia.J Chief S: talofa Kelesia! Hello Kelesia! Kelesia: (0.2) talofa! HeUo! Chief S: ((chuckles)) hehe. 74 Journal of Linguistic Anthropology Talofa is homophonous with and probably derived from the expression talofa or tdlofae—usually pronounced /kaalofa/ and /kaalofae/, respectively14 (see the appendix)—used to display empathy for someone who is judged to be suffering or under any fo...
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