Body, mind, and spirit: what makes up a person in Manambu

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (2015) Body, mind, and spirit: what makes up a person in Manambu. Studies in Language, 39 (1). 85 -116.

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Abstract

In many languages, terms denoting the human body and its parts constitute a closed subclass of nouns with special grammatical properties. Many if not all parts of the human body may acquire dimensions of meanings with ethnographic importance. I focus on a tri-partite division of visible and invisible parts of a human and their attributes in Manambu, a Ndu language spoken in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. The trichotomy of 'body' (səp), 'mind' (mawul) and 'spirit' (kayik) in Manambu reflects a culturally embedded conceptualization of what a human is. Each of the three taxonomic units has specific grammatical properties. The physical and mental profile of a human being in Manambu (as in many other languages) cannot be appreciated without understanding the grammar. Conversely, a structural analysis of a language is incomplete unless it makes reference to the system of belief and concepts encoded in it.

Item ID: 40072
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: physical states; mind; spirit; ethnosyntax; the Sepik area; Manambu; body; mental states; body parts; Papuan languages
ISSN: 1569-9978
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2015 01:33
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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