Hidden from women's ears: gender-based taboos in the Vaupés area

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (2019) Hidden from women's ears: gender-based taboos in the Vaupés area. International Journal of Language and Culture, 6 (1). pp. 95-118.

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Abstract

Across the multilingual area of the Vaupés River Basin in north-west Amazonia, women are considered a dangerous 'other'. In accordance with the local marriage practices, men marry women from language groups different to their own. Women are denied access to important rituals, such as the Yurupary rite, and are not supposed to hear any words associated with this tradition. The paper addresses a special linguistic practice of a women-directed taboo, so far documented just for the Tariana (the only Arawak-speaking groups in the Vaupés River Basin area). All the paraphernalia associated with the Yurupary ritual and a number of place names which contain the name of the Yurupary flute are a taboo to women, and so their original names cannot be pronounced in the presence of women. If a woman is present, a tabooed form has to be used instead. The tradition is on the way out, since the Tariana language and culture are severely endangered. The 'taboo against women' in Tariana is compared with other systems of gender-based taboos across the world. How did the erstwhile secret knowledge become public? And how can one get get access to 'forbidden' knowledge in the Amazonian context? These issues are addressed at the end of the paper.

Item ID: 57065
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2214-3165
Keywords: gender-based tabboos; Vaupes: Tariana; North Arawak
Copyright Information: © 2019. John Benjamins Publishing Company
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2019 23:49
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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