Using these criteria i go on to identify four types

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Unformatted text preview: or identifying greetings across languages and speech communities. Using these criteria, I go on to identify four types of verbal greetings in one community where I worked, in Western Samoa. In discussing the fourth Samoan greeting, the "Where are you going?" type, I will argue that it blatantly violates the common expectation of greetings as phatic, predictable exchanges, and I show that it functions as an information-seeking and action-control strategy. Finally, I examine a Samoan expression that has been translated as a greeting in English but seems problematic on the basis of ethnographic information, and I show that, as we would expect, it does not qualify for some of the criteria proposed in this article. Previous Studies The literature on greetings can be divided along several methodological and theoretical lines. In what follows, I will briefly review the contribution of human ethologists, ethnographers, conversation analysts, and speech act theorists. In the ethological tradition, exemplified by-Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldfs work, greetings are studied as a means to uncovering some of the evolutionary bases of human behavior. By comparing humans with other species and adult-adult interaction with mother-child interaction (Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1977), greetings are defined as rituals of appeasing and bonding that counteract potentially aggressive behavior during face-to-face encounters. The presupposition here is that humans and animals alike live in a permanent, phylogenetically encoded condition of potential aggression (or fear of aggression) and, were it not for such adaptive rituals as greetings, individuals would be tearing each other apart. Fear of aggression is also used by Kendon and Ferber (1973) to explain eye-gaze aversion during certain phases of human encounters—people look away just as primates and other animals do to avoid the threat of physical confrontation—and by Firth (1972) and others to interpret the common gesture of handshake across societies as a symbol of trust in the other. This line of research is characterized by two features: (i) a focus on nonverbal communication (for example, Universal and Culture-Specific Properties of Greetings Eibl-Eibesfeldf s 1972 study of the eyebrow flash), which is often analyzed independently of the talk that accompanies it; (ii) the assumption of shared goals between humans and other species; and (iii) the assumption that the same type of greeting behavior will have the same origin, motivation, or explanation across situations. The focus on nonverbal communication has been important in counterbalancing the logocentric tendency of other studies of greetings (see below) and has revealed commonalities across cultures that would have been missed were researchers concentrating exclusively on verbal behavior. The second feature, namely, the assumption that humans and animals share similar goals, presents other kinds of problems. It might be easy to accept that all species share a concern for survival and safety, but it is less easy...
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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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