Taboo in language and discourse: introducing the volume

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y., and Storch, Anne (2019) Taboo in language and discourse: introducing the volume. The Mouth: critical studies on language, culture and society, 4. pp. 10-14.

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Abstract

Every language reflects the practices of those who speak it, their surroundings, and livelihoods, what has to be avoided, and what is plainly forbidden and unmentionable — taboo across various languages and cultures. Taboo in language easily translates into practices of avoidance and secrecy. It also has discursive and performative dimensions. As an object of linguistic analysis, studying and describing that is ‘taboo’ may be problematic: the information is hard to elicit, and scholarly writing dispassionately turns ‘taboo’ into a purely academic discussion, while the issues themselves often turn out to be complex and multifaceted. Talking about taboos or bearing witness to taboos in action places both the ‘speaker’ and the ‘linguist’ under a strain: the practices themselves may turn out to be potentially dangerous practices, and one has to rely on the metapragmatic and the metalinguistic performance rather on what is being said out loud. What does one say and what has to remain unsaid? How do tabooed language practices play out in multiple contexts and different environments, from the Amazonian jungle and the highlands on Papua New Guinea to urban contexts in Congo and Zimbabwe to tourist hot-spots in Kenya and elsewhere? How is taboo inflicted on those who usually are not in the picture – the linguists who write about it? Taboo as a way of rationalising complex practice, as embodiment and an experience of the environment, as confrontation and reflection: This is what this volume is about

Item ID: 59949
Item Type: Article (Scholarly Work)
ISSN: 2513-101X
Keywords: Taboo in language; metapragmatic; metalinguistic performance
Copyright Information: Open Access via the publisher's website.
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 02:51
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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