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Unformatted text preview: rs, we are
going inland 3
A 4 Tala'i: B 5 Other man: e— (0.8) e kapenga mai le— (0.2) suQvai— (0.2) o le Aso Si.
to— (0.8) prepare the— (0.2) food (0.2) for Sunday.
ia' d loa ('a)
Okay, go then, (makou) o.
(We) go. The way in which this exchange is played out illustrates a number of
important points about the social organization presupposed by the encounter, as well as the social organization achieved by it. First, the content
displays a noticeable status asymmetry between A and B (which is represented by more than one speaker). Despite the relatively polite questioning
by orator Tala'i (the address form "ali'i" he uses does not have the gender
and age selectional restrictions as the English "sir" or the Spanish "seftor"
but does convey some consideration for the person addressed),25 there is no
question that in lines 2 and 3 the young speaker does his best to show 86 Journal of Linguistic Anthropology appreciation of the specific statuses represented by the members of the
inspection committee, since the respectful term /afionga ali'i/ refers to the
chiefs in the committee and the term /kulaafale/ refers to the orators. These
terms are in contrast with the casual, almost "slang" word /kengi/, a
borrowing from the English gang, used by the orator Tola'i in referring to
the young man's group. Furthermore, the young man also indicates
through his opening remark /vange/, an apologetic expression for an
unbecoming (past or future) act (corresponding to the /vaku/ we saw
earlier in , line 13) that anything he might do or say to such a distinguished audience is likely going to be inappropriate. In fact, even his
group's presence in front of the committee may be seen as an inappropriate
interference in the chiefs' and orators' actions, or at least in their interactional space. There are some remnants here of possible avoidance relations
with people of high mana that have been characterized as typical of ancient
Polynesia (Valeri 1985).
Despite the conventionality of the exchange, what is said and how it is
said is extremely important. The illocutionary point or goal of the greeting
is not just "a courteous indication of recognition, with the presupposition
that the speaker has just encountered the hearer" (Searle and Vanderveken
1985:215). Although recognition is certainly involved, the exchange plays
out a set of social relations and cultural expectations about where parties
should be at a particular time of the day and what they should be doing
then, all expressed through an actual exchange of information about the
parties' whereabouts. It is the higher status party, that is, the orator Tala'i
in this case, who asks the question. The only thing the young men can do
is answer as quickly and as politely as possible and hope for a quick and
uneventful exchange. In this interpretive frame, the final granting of permission to go ("ia' o loa") is also ambiguous between a formulaic closure
(corresponding to the English "See you" or "Good-bye") and a meaningful
sanction of the young men's goals and destination by a man of higher
Expressions That Are Not Greetings
Given my claim that the six criteria introduced above should allow
researchers to identify greetings across languages and communities, it is
important to establish whether the same crit...
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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