"Fruits for animals: hunting avoidance speech style in Murui (Witoto, Northwest Amazonia)"

Wojtylak, Katarzyna (2015) "Fruits for animals: hunting avoidance speech style in Murui (Witoto, Northwest Amazonia)". In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society. pp. 545-561. From: Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society. University of California at Berkeley, 7-8 February 2015, Berkeley, CA, USA.

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This paper is describes the hunting avoidance speech style of the Murui, a Witoto people from southern Colombia and northern Peru. Murui men employ a special vocabulary used when hunting bigger game. It is a system of lexical substitution employed to "deceive" the animal spirits by avoidance of the utterance of the animals' names. Uttering tabooed words would result in an unsuccessful hunting: animal spirits would know they are to be hunted and, therefore, they would escape. Animals are, therefore, 'renamed'. This culturally significant speech register, which is subject to a high degree of metalinguistic awareness, is referred to by native speakers as 'skilled speech'. Avoidance terms and their referents appear to be iconic: substitute terms are generally based on physical similarity or characteristic behaviour between the animal whose name is avoided and some, typically non-faunal, natural objects (commonly fruits) (cf. Stasch 2008). The iconic aspect, and the consistent rank shifting from the faunal term to the floral term, suggest important ideological aspects to the register. Nowadays, this special avoidance speech style is on the wane. With the increasing influence of Christianity, and subsequent decrease of importance of evil spirits, the 'hunting' avoidance speech style is almost exclusively indicative to older generations of the Murui people.

Item ID: 48549
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
ISSN: 0363-2946
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2017 01:03
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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