Gunter Senft

Presentations

Displaying 1 - 49 of 49
  • Senft, G. (2019). ".. to grasp the native's point of view.." - A plea for a holistic documentation of the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and cognition. Talk presented at the International Research Council Satellite Lecture Program of RUDN University. Moscow. 2019-11-08 - 2019-11-16.

    Abstract

    In his famous introduction to his monograph "Argonauts of the Western Pacific" Bronislaw Malinowski (1922: 24f.) points out that a "collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives, typical utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulae has to be given as a corpus inscriptionum, as documents of native mentality". This is one of the prerequisites to "grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world". Malinowski managed to document a "Corpus Inscriptionum Agriculturae Quriviniensis" in his second volume of "Coral Gardens and their Magic" (1935 Vol II: 79-342). But he himself did not manage to come up with a holistic corpus inscriptionum for the Trobriand Islanders. One of the main aims I have been pursuing in my research on the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and cognition has been to fill this ethnolinguistic niche. In this essay I report what I had to do to carry out this complex and ambitious project, what forms and kinds of linguistic and cultural competence I had to acquire, and how I planned my data collection during 16 long- and short-term field trips to the Trobriand Islands between 1982 and 2012. The paper ends with a critical assessment of my Trobriand endeavor.
  • Senft, G. (2019). ".. to grasp the native's point of view.." - A plea for a holistic documentation of the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and cognition. Talk presented at the 16th International Pragmatics Conference. Hong Kong. 2019-06-09 - 2019-06-14.

    Abstract

    In his famous introduction to his monograph "Argonauts of the Western Pacific" Bronislaw Malinowski (1922: 24f.) points out that a "collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives, typical utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulae has to be given as a corpus inscriptionum, as documents of native mentality". This is one of the prerequisites to "grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world". Malinowski managed to document a "Corpus Inscriptionum Agriculturae Quriviniensis" in his second volume of "Coral Gardens and their Magic" (1935 Vol II: 79-342). But he himself did not manage to come up with a holistic corpus inscriptionum for the Trobriand Islanders. One of the main aims I have been pursuing in my research on the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and cognition has been to fill this ethnolinguistic niche. In this talk I report what I had to do to carry out this complex and ambitious project, what forms and kinds of linguistic and cultural competence I had to acquire, and how I planned my data collection during 16 long- and short-term field trips to the Trobriands between 1982 and 2012. The talk will end with a critical assessment of my Trobriand endeavor.
  • Senft, G. (2019). ".. to grasp the native's point of view.." - A plea for a holistic documentation of the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and Cognition [Invited Plenary]. Talk presented at the 28th Polish Association for the Study of English (PASE) Conference: Diversity is inclusive: Cultural, literary and linguistic mosaic. Poznan, Poland. 2019-06-27 - 2019-06-28.

    Abstract

    In his famous introduction to his monograph "Argonauts of the Western Pacific" Bronislaw Malinowski (1922: 24f.) points out that a "collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives, typical utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulae has to be given as a corpus inscriptionum, as documents of native mentality". This is one of the prerequisites to "grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world". Malinowski managed to document a "Corpus Inscriptionum Agriculturae Quriviniensis" in his second volume of "Coral Gardens and their Magic" (1935 Vol II: 79-342). But he himself did not manage to come up with a holistic corpus inscriptionum for the Trobriand Islanders. One of the main aims I have been pursuing in my research on the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and cognition has been to fill this ethnolinguistic niche. In this talk I report what I had to do to carry out this complex and ambitious project, what forms and kinds of linguistic and cultural competence I had to acquire, and how I planned my data collection during 16 long- and short-term field trips to the Trobriands between 1982 and 2012. The talk will end with a critical assessment of my Trobriand endeavor.
  • Senft, G. (2018). Pragmatics and anthropology: The Trobriand Islanders' ways of speaking [invited plenary lecture]. Talk presented at the 38th International LAUD Symposium (LAUD 2018) and the Second Cultural Linguistics International Conference (CLIC 2018). Landau, Germany. 2018-07-23 - 2018-07-26.

    Abstract

    In the 1920s, Bronislaw Malinowski – in the tradition of Herder and Humboldt and based on his experience during his field research on the Trobriand Islands – pointed out that language is not only an instrument of thought, but first and foremost a tool for creating social bonds and accountability relations in more or less ritualized forms of social interaction. Language is a mode of behavior and the meaning of an utterance is constituted by its pragmatic function: it can only be understood in relation to the context in which it is embedded. The rules that guide communicative behavior vary immensely in different cultures and have to be learned to achieve communicative competence within a specific speech community. This learning results in the understanding of how the speakers structure, pattern and regulate their ways of speaking. Malinowski’s ideas had an increasing impact in anthropology and linguistics – especially in pragmatics – and led to the formation of the subdiscipline “anthropological linguistics”. This paper presents three observations of the Trobriand Islanders’ attitude to their language Kilivila and their actual language use in social interactions which I made during my fieldwork on the Trobriand Islands. They illustrate that whoever wants to research the role of language, culture and cognition in social interaction – be it linguist or anthropologist – must know how the researched society constructs its reality. Researchers need to be on ‘common ground’ with the researched communities, and this common ground knowledge is the indispensable prerequisite for any successful research on language, culture and cognition manifest in social interaction.
  • Senft, G. (2017). 'Control your emotions! If teasing provokes you, you've lost your face..'. The Trobriand Islanders' control of their public display of emotions. Talk presented at the Linguistic Colloquium, Department of Linguistics, University of Brighton. Brighton, UK. 2017-05-04.

    Abstract

    Kilivila, the Austronesian language of the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea, has a rich inventory of terms - nouns, verbs, adjectives and idiomatic phrases and expressions - to precisely refer to, and to differentiate emotions and inner feelings. This paper describes how the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea deal with the public display of emotions. Forms of emotion control in public encounters are discussed and explained on the basis of ritual communication which pervades the Trobrianders' verbal and non-verbal behavior. Especially highlighted is the Trobrianders' metalinguistic concept of "biga sopa" with its important role for emotion control in encounters that may run the risk of escalating from argument and conflict to aggression and violence.
  • Senft, G. (2017). “Day[s] that I have loved.. but the times they are a-changin' - 30 years of anthropological-linguistic field research on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea",. Talk presented at Linguistic Colloquium. Department of Linguistics, University of Brighton. 2017-05-03.

    Abstract

    This talk provides an inevitably subjective summing up of experiences I made during 30 years of field research on the Trobriand Islands. I first provide some information about how I came to do this kind of research. Then I briefly introduce the Trobriand Islands, their inhabitants and some central aspects of their language and their culture. To illustrate my situation as a greenhorn in the Pacific at the beginning of my staying in the field, I briefly mention some of the mistakes I made, some misunderstandings and some forms of my misbehavior with respect to Trobriand etiquette and conventions. A brief survey on the research I carried out there is followed by a discussion of aspects of language and culture change which I witnessed and documented between 1982 and 2012. The presentation ends with some unfortunately pessimistic prospects on the Trobrianders' future which is severely challenged by overpopulation and climate change affecting the Islands.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Understanding Pragmatics [invited plenary lecture]. Talk presented at the 8th Lodz Symposium New Developments in Linguistic Pragmatics. Lodz, Poland. 2017-05-15 - 2017-05-17.

    Abstract

    Pragmatics is the discipline within linguistics that deals with actual language use. Language use is not only dependent on linguistic, that is grammatical and lexical knowledge, but also on cultural, situative and interpersonal contexts and conventions. One of the central aims of pragmatics is to research how context and convention – in their broadest sense – contribute to meaning and understanding. Thus, the social and cultural embedding of meaning is a central prerequisite for understanding pragmatics. Research in linguistic pragmatics deals with how speakers use their language(s) in various situations and contexts: what speakers do when they speak and why they do it. Pragmatics focuses on the actual language users, their communicative behavior, their world and their point of view. Pragmatics studies language and its meaningful use from the perspective of language users embedded in their situational, behavioral, cultural, societal and political contexts, using a broad variety of methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches depending on specific research questions and interests. Indeed, if we look at core domains of the discipline, we realize that linguistic pragmatics can be regarded as a transdiscipline that is relevant for, and has its predecessors in, many other disciplines such as Philosophy, Psychology, Ethology, Ethnology, Sociology and the Political Sciences. In this talk I take up this point and discuss a selection of core issues of Pragmatics that were introduced into the field via these six disciplines.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Acquiring Kilivila pragmatics - the role of the children's group in the first seven years of the children on the Trobriand Islands. Talk presented at the 15th International Pragmatics Conference. Belfast, Ireland. 2017-07-16 - 2017-07-21.

    Abstract

    Children on the Trobriand Islands are breastfed until they can walk - usually at about the age of 2 years. When they have reached this stage of their development, they are abruptly weaned and the parents – especially the mothers – dramatically reduce the amount of pervasive loving care and attention that their children experienced before this traumatic moment in their lives. To compensate for this deficit in their experience of intimate social bonding, the children have to find a place and position within the children’s groups in their village. In these groups the children gradually take over specific roles which they internalize and thus secure the continuance of norms that are accessible by appearance alone. In the various playgroups and in their children’s group the children also learn that they have to obey and follow certain norms which as implicit social rules govern social life and interaction within their community. Norms which affect the understanding of gender roles and sex differences are directly experienced by children when they are playing together. Between the age of two and 7 years the children also learn to control their emotions in order to behave according to the norms, rules and values that are valid for the Trobrianders’ community. During this time of their life they acquire a relatively strict form of self-discipline, which is necessary to keep the balance between the individuals within their open and very public society. This implies that they also have to learn to laugh about themselves, even in situations when they feel deeply insulted. During this acquisition process the pragmatic concept of the "biga sopa" - the joking language, the language which is not vouched for (see Senft 2010: 149ff) - plays the most important role for the overall socialization process on the Trobriands. By gradually acquiring the basic concepts and the rules and norms of language use that is manifest in the biga sopa concept, children realize more and more that they can behave properly and adequately with respect to all situations they experience not only in their everyday life, but also in the ritualized forms of life within their community. This provides them with an important emotional security and with a general aplomb. The practicing of the forms of verbal and non-verbal behavior that conform to the Trobrianders’ social norms takes place while playing with other children in the playgroups; it is controlled by older members of the children’s groups. Thus, it is the children's "small republic" ” (Malinowski 1929: 44f.) which provides the most important framework for their socialization into their culture. The attempts of parental education are confined to a minimum. References: Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1929. The Sexual Life of Savages in Northwestern Melanesia. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Senft, Gunter. 2010. The Trobriand Islanders' Ways of Speaking. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Raumverweis und Konzeptualisierung des Raumes in verschiedenen Sprachen und Kulturen. Talk presented at the Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Wien. Vienna, Austria. 2017-11-07.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Understanding Pragmatics [plenary talk]. Talk presented at Linguistics in the 21st century: Interdisciplinary paradigms. Moscow, Russia. 2017-11-14 - 2017-11-15.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Vergangenheit is Gegenwart und Gegenwart Vergangenheit. Zeitvorstellungen und Erntefeier-Rituale auf den Trobriand-Inseln in Papua-Neuguinea. Talk presented at "Zeitkonfigurationen - Zur räumlichen Darstellung der Zeit" - Symposium organisiert von Prof. Dr. Günter Zöller & Dr. Audrey Rieber, Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung, mit Unterstützung der Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung und der Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität. Munich, Germany. 2017-11-02 - 2017-11-03.

    Abstract

    Dieser Vortrag gibt zunächst einen Überblick darüber, wie die Trobriander im Alltag sprachlich auf „Zeit“ und auf „Aktionen & Handlungsabläufe in der Zeit“ verweisen; dann wird das trobriandische Konzept von „Zeit“ vorgestellt, wie es sich in der wichtigsten Periode im Jahresverlauf, nämlich im Zeitraum der „milamala“ genannten Erntefeiern und in all den diese Feiern begleitenden Ritualen und Zeremonien manifestiert.
  • Senft, G. (2016). “'Control your emotions! If teasing provokes you, you've lost your face..'. The Trobriand Islanders' control of their public display of emotions [Invited talk]”. Talk presented at the Third International Workshop on Linguistics of "BA" at the Waseda University. Tokyo, Japan. 2016-03-26 - 2016-03-27.

    Abstract

    Kilivila, the Austronesian language of the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea, has a rich inventory of terms - nouns, verbs, adjectives and idiomatic phrases and expressions - to precisely refer to, and to differentiate emotions and inner feelings. This talk describes how the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea deal with the public display of emotions. Forms of emotion control in public encounters are discussed and explained on the basis of ritual communication which pervades the Trobrianders' verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Especially highlighted is the Trobrianders' metalinguistic concept of "biga sopa" with its important role for emotion control in encounters that may run the risk of escalating from argument and conflict to aggression and violence.
  • Senft, G. (2016). “Kilivila - die Sprache der Trobriand-Insulaner von Papua-Neuguinea“ [Invited talk]. Talk presented at the Linguistisches Kolloquium Sommersemester 2016 "Die Sprachen des ozeanischen Raumes", Universität Bremen. Bremen, Germany. 2016-05-06.
  • Senft, G. (2016). Classifiers in Kilivila - A description of their function and use. Talk presented at the Workshop of the Surrey Morphology Group on "Gender and classifiers: Diachronic and synchronic variation". Guildford, UK. 2016-01-28 - 2016-01-29.

    Abstract

    In this seminar I examine the system of 88 classifiers that I documented being used by the inhabitants of Tauwema, my village of residence on Kaile’una Island during my field research in 1982/83 and 1989. After a brief outline of their main grammatical and discourse functions point out that on the basis of semantic analyses the 88 classifiers can be seen as operating dynamically within 20 semantic domains, with much potential for substitution of classifiers within and between domains. Then I show that the actual use of this classifier system can be described by variable rules. Finally I develop a network model to adequately describe the dynamics of this system (see Senft 1986; 1987; 1996).
  • Senft, G. (2016). Classifiers in Kilivila: Introducing referents and keeping track of them. Talk presented at the 46th Poznan Linguistic Meeting. Poznan, Poland. 2016-09-15 - 2016-09-17.
  • Senft, G. (2016). Raumverweis und Konzeptualisierung des Raumes in verschiedenen Sprachen und Kulturen. Talk presented at Linguistisches Kolloquium Sommersemester 2016: Empirische Forschungsmethoden in der Linguistik. Mainz, Germany. 2016-06-27.
  • Senft, G. (2016). Theory meets practice: H. Paul Grice's Maxims of Quality and Manner and the Trobriand Islanders' language use [invited plenary talk]. Talk presented at Pragmasophia - First International Conference in Pragmatics and Philosophy. Palermo, Italy. 2016-05-16 - 2016-05-19.

    Abstract

    As I have already pointed out elsewhere (Senft 2008; 2010; 2014), the Gricean conversational maxims of Quality – “Try to make your contribution one that is true” – and Manner “Be perspicuous”, specifically “Avoid obscurity of expression” and “Avoid ambiguity” (Grice 1967; 1975; 1978) – are not observed by the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea, neither in forms of their ritualized communication nor in forms and ways of everyday conversation and other ordinary verbal interactions. The speakers of the Austronesian language Kilivila metalinguistically differentiate eight specific non-diatopical registers which I have called “situational-intentional” varieties. One of these varieties is called “biga sopa”. This label can be glossed as “joking or lying speech, indirect speech, speech which is not vouched for”. The biga sopa constitutes the default register of Trobriand discourse and conversation. This contribution to the workshop on philosophy and pragmatics presents the Trobriand Islanders’ indigenous typology of non-diatopical registers, especially elaborating on the concept of sopa, describing its features, discussing its functions and illustrating its use within Trobriand society. It will be shown that the Gricean maxims of quality and manner are irrelevant for and thus not observed by the speakers of Kilivila. On the basis of the presented findings the Gricean maxims and especially Grice’s claim that his theory of conversational implicature is “universal in application” is critically discussed from a general anthropological-linguistic point of view.
  • Senft, G. (2015). Culture change, language change: Missionaries and moribund varieties of Kilivila [invited lecture]. Talk presented at the 45th Poznan Linguistic Meeting Satellite session "Language Endangerment", Adam Mickiewicz University. Poznan. 2015-09-17 - 2015-09-19.

    Abstract

    In my talk I emphasize that with respect to levels of endangerment Kilivila, the Austronesian language of the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea, can still be classified as a viable but relatively small language: it is "spoken in [a community] that [is relatively] isolated [and] with a strong internal organization, and aware of the way [its] language is a marker of identity" (Crystal 2000:20). However, I also point out that two of its varieties, the ‘biga megwa’ – the ‘language of magic’ and the ‘biga baloma’ – the ‘language of the spirits of the dead’ are highly endangered and actually moribund these days. I first present examples of text genres that constitute these two indigenous varieties of Kilivila and then explain how and why they have to be classified as being doomed to die. The presentation ends with an assessment of this development and its impact on the language and culture of the Trobriand Islanders.
  • Senft, G. (2015). Day[s] that I have loved.. but the times they are a-changin' - 30 years of anthropological-linguistic field research on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea [invited lecture]. Talk presented at "The Language, Society, Technology and Cognition Interdisciplinary PhD Programme" of the Adam Mickiewicz University. Poznan. 2015-09-16.

    Abstract

    This talk provides an inevitably subjective summing up of experiences I made during 30 years of field research on the Trobriand Islands. I first provide some information about how I came to do this kind of research. Then I briefly introduce the Trobriand Islands, their inhabitants and some central aspects of their language and their culture. To illustrate my situation as a greenhorn in the Pacific at the beginning of my staying in the field, I briefly mention some of the mistakes I made, some misunderstandings and some forms of my misbehavior with respect to Trobriand etiquette and conventions. A brief survey on the research I carried out there is followed by a discussion of aspects of language and culture change which I witnessed and documented between 1982 and 2012. The presentation ends with some unfortunately pessimistic prospects on the Trobrianders' future which is severely challenged by overpopulation and climate change affecting the Islands.
  • Senft, G. (2015). Day[s] that I have loved.. but the times they are a-changin' - 30 years of anthropological-linguistic field research on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea [invited plenary talk]. Talk presented at IPrA's 14th International Pragmatics Conference. Antwerp. 2015-07-26 - 2015-07-31.

    Abstract

    This talk provides an inevitably subjective summing up of experiences I made during 30 years of field research on the Trobriand Islands. I first provide some information about how I came to do this kind of research. Then I briefly introduce the Trobriand Islands, their inhabitants and some central aspects of their language and their culture. To illustrate my situation as a greenhorn in the Pacific at the beginning of my staying in the field, I briefly mention some of the mistakes I made, some misunderstandings and some forms of my misbehavior with respect to Trobriand etiquette and conventions. A brief survey on the research I carried out there is followed by a discussion of aspects of language and culture change which I witnessed and documented between 1982 and 2012. The presentation ends with some unfortunately pessimistic prospects on the Trobrianders' future which is severely challenged by overpopulation and climate change affecting the Islands.
  • Senft, G. (2015). Gender and classifiers: A survey on their geographical distribution. Talk presented at the Dissemination workshop "Gender and classifiers: areal and genealogical perspectives". MPI for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen. 2015-01-26 - 2015-01-27.

    Abstract

    This talk provides a survey of the geographical distribution of gender and classifier systems in the languages of the world - based on the WALS and on Alexandra Aikhenvald's monograph "Classifiers" published in 2000 by Oxford University Press.
  • Senft, G. (2015). Understanding pragmatics [invited plenary talk]. Talk presented at the 45th Poznan Linguistic Meeting, Adam Mickiewicz University. Poznan. 2015-09-17 - 2015-09-19.

    Abstract

    Pragmatics is the discipline within linguistics that deals with actual language use. Language use is not only dependent on linguistic, that is grammatical and lexical knowledge, but also on cultural, situative and interpersonal contexts and conventions. One of the central aims of pragmatics is to research how context and convention – in their broadest sense – contribute to meaning and understanding. Thus, the social and cultural embedding of meaning is a central prerequisite for understanding pragmatics. Research in linguistic pragmatics deals with how speakers use their language(s) in various situations and contexts: what speakers do when they speak and why they do it. Pragmatics focuses on the actual language users, their communicative behaviour, their world and their point of view, in short, ‘the total human context of [language] use’ (Mey 1994: 3265). Pragmatics studies language and its meaningful use from the perspective of language users embedded in their situational, behavioural, cultural, societal and political contexts, using a broad variety of methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches depending on specific research questions and interests. Indeed, if we look at core domains of the discipline, we realize that linguistic pragmatics can be regarded as a transdiscipline that is relevant for, and has its predecessors in, many other disciplines such as Philosophy, Psychology, Ethology, Ethnology, Sociology and the Political Sciences. In this talk I take up this point and briefly discuss a selection of core issues of Pragmatics that were introduced into the field via these six disciplines (see Senft 2014). References: Mey, Jacob. 1994. Pragmatics. In R. E. Asher and J. M. Y. Simpson (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Vol. 6, 3260-3278. Oxford: Pergamon Press. Senft, Gunter. 2014. Understanding Pragmatics. London: Routledge
  • Senft, G. (2014). 'Control your emotions! If teasing provokes you, you've lost your face..'. The Trobriand Islanders' control of their public display of emotions. Talk presented at the International Workshop "Consensus and Dissent: Negotiating emotion in public space". Institute of African Studies and Egyptology, University of Cologne. 2014-11-06 - 2014-11-07.

    Abstract

    Kilivila, the Austronesian language of the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea, has a rich inventory of terms - nouns, verbs, adjectives and idiomatic phrases and expressions - to precisely refer to, and to differentiate emotions and inner feelings. This paper describes how the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea deal with the public display of emotions. Forms of emotion control in public encounters are discussed and explained on the basis of ritual communication which pervades the Trobrianders' verbal and non-verbal behavior. Especially highlighted is the Trobrianders' metalinguistic concept of "biga sopa" with its important role for emotion control in encounters that may run the risk of escalating from argument and conflict to aggression and violence.
  • Senft, G. (2014). 'The times they are a-changing'.. Language and culture change observed during 30 years of anthropological-linguistic field research on the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea. Talk presented at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2014-11-10.
  • Senft, G. (2014). Systems of nominal classification. Talk presented at The workshop "Gender and classifiers: cross-linguistic perspectives", organized by the Surrey Morphology Group at the University of Surrey. Surrey, UK. 2014-01-17 - 2014-01-17.

    Abstract

    This talk first discusses briefly the basic problem of how the perceived world is expressed and represented in language and how language refers to the perceived world. Then it presents and exemplifies the systems of nominal classification that can be found in the languages of the world and finally it discusses some central problems of nominal classification.
  • Senft, G. (2014). The Coral Gardens are Losing their Magic: The Social Impact of Climate Change and Overpopulation for the Trobriand Islanders [Invited Talk]. Talk presented at The social Impacts of Climate Change - An interactive problem-based workshop hosted by the European Consortium for Pacific Studies (ECOPAS) at the Center for Pacific and Asian Studies, Radboud University. Nijmegen. 2014-04-09 - 2014-04-10.

    Abstract

    This talk deals with the dramatic environmental and social changes on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea which I experienced during 16 long- and short-term field-trips from 1982 to 2012. I first report about the climate change I experienced there over the years, then I provide a survey about the demographic changes on the Trobriands - highlighting the situation in Tauwema, my village of residence on Kaile'una Island, and finally I report on the social impact these dramatic changes have for the Trobraind Islanders and their culture.
  • Senft, G. (2013). Morevaya and Bukuruvi or: The miserable end of a love story. A tale from the Trobriand Islands. Talk presented at the 13th International Pragmatics Conference. New Delhi. 2013-09-08 - 2013-09-13.

    Abstract

    In 1997 Moagava, a 29 year old man living in the village of Tauwema on Kaile'una, one of the Trobriand Islands in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, told a group of children and some adults the story of Morevaya and Bukuruvi. In this talk I first present this tale in morpheme-interlinear transcription and translation, then I look at the text in detail with respect to both its form and content. This analysis reveals the macro- and micro-structure of the tale and isolates the verbal means used by the narrator which indicate the linearization principles that underlie the macrostructure of the story. The talk ends with some concluding remarks on the anthropological-linguistic and cognitive linguistic significance of studies like the present one.
  • Senft, G. (2013). Murder in Milne Bay: The Kavalokwa case: A story from the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea. Talk presented at the 9th International Conference on Oceanic Linguistics. Newcastle, Australia. 2013-02-04 - 2013-02-08.

    Abstract

    In 1997 Kalavatu, a 45 year old man living in the village of Tauwema on Kaile'una, one of the Trobriand Islands in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, told a group of children and some adults the story of Kavalokwa. In this talk I first present this tale in morpheme-interlinear transcription and translation (see handout), then I look at the text in detail with respect to both its form and content. This analysis reveals the macrostructure of the tale and isolates the verbal means used by the narrator which indicate the linearization principles that underlie this macrostructure of the story. The talk ends with some concluding remarks on the anthropological-linguistic and cognitive linguistic significance of studies like the present one.
  • Senft, G. (2013). Magic on the Trobriand Islands (PNG). Talk presented at the Cognitive Humanities Workshop "The Power of Words and Belief", Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2013-04-15.
  • Senft, G. (2012). Expressions of emotions - and inner feelings - in Kilivila, the language of the Trobriand Islanders: A descriptive and methodological critical survey. Talk presented at Le Centre d'Etudes des Langues Indigènes d'Amérique (CELIA), CNRS. Villejuif, Paris. 2012-01-24.

    Abstract

    This talk reports on the results of my research in 2006 and 2008 on the verbal expressions - the lexical means - Kilivila, the language of the Trobriand Islanders, offers its speakers to refer to and to describe emotions and inner feelings. Data were elicited with 18 so-called "Ekman's faces" in which the faces of three persons (one woman, two men) illustrate six allegedly universal basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise) and film stimuli staging and demonstrating standard emotions based on English. This latter stimulus set is called “Mind Reading Emotions Library (MREL)”. It was developed by Baron-Cohen and his co-workers in 2004. After the presentation of the data elicited with the "Ekman faces" and the MREL film clips I will discuss them on the basis of the following three research questions: How "effable" are emotions or can we observe ineffability - the difficulty or impossibility of putting experiences into words - within the domain of emotions? Do consultants agree with one another how they name emotions? Are facial expressions or situations better cues for labeling? In addition to the data elicited with these tools I also present lexical means the Trobriand Islanders use to refer to emotions and inner feelings which are documented in my overall corpus of the Kilivila language.
  • Senft, G. (2012). The Trobriand Islanders' concept of 'karewaga' and the general ethics of field research. Talk presented at the European Society of Oceanists' (ESfO) Conference - The Power of the Pacific: Values, Materials, Images. Bergen, Norway. 2012-12-05 - 2012-12-08.
  • Senft, G. (2012). The Tuma Underworld of Love: Erotic and other narrative songs of the Trobriand Islanders and their spirits of the dead. Talk presented at the 12th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Denpasar. 2012-07-02 - 2012-07-06.

    Abstract

    The Trobriand Islanders' eschatological belief system explains in detail what happens when someone dies. Bronislaw Malinowski described essentials of this eschatology in his famous articles "Baloma: the Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands" and "Myth in Primitive Psychology" There he also presented the Trobrianders' belief that a spirit of the dead, a "baloma" can be reborn; he claimed that Trobrianders are unaware of the father's role as genitor. In this talk I present not only a critical review of Malinowski's ethnography of Trobriand eschatology, finally settling the "virgin birth" controversy, I also document highly ritualized songs - the "wosi milamala" - the harvest festival songs. They are sung in an archaic variety of Kilivila - the "biga baloma" - the language of the spirits of the dead. Malinowski briefly refers to these songs but does not mention that they codify many aspects of Trobriand eschatology. The songs are still sung during the harvest festival and after the death of a Trobriander, but there are only a few people left who still understand the "wosi milamala". They are a moribund genre of Kilivila - and with them the Trobriand Islanders' complex indigenous eschatology will vanish.
  • Senft, G. (2011). An Island Tale - anthropological field research on the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea. Talk presented at the Department of Anthropology. Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. 2011-12-06.
  • Senft, G. (2011). Behavioral concepts of space and their representation in language. Talk presented at Course on "Spatial Behavior" coordinated by Prof. Dr. Huib Ernste, Department of Geography, Radboud University. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2011-05-31.

    Abstract

    After a summary of the research on frames of spatial reference that was done at the Institute and an introduction of these 3 systems of spatial reference absolute systems of spatial references that are found in Oceanic languages are presented and discussed
  • Senft, G. (2011). The Trobriand Islanders' concept of "karewaga" and the general ethics of field research. Talk presented at 12th International Pragmatics Conference. Manchester. 2011-07-03 - 2011-07-08.

    Abstract

    The Trobriand Islanders' concept of "karewaga" can be glossed not only as " authority" but also as " responsibility, jurisdiction, competence, sphere of influence", and so on. After a lexical semantic analysis of this concept based on the actual usage of the term in everyday Kilivila contexts of social interaction this paper points out that many of the ethical principles which are rooted in Western philosophy and thought and which should guide any field research - be it anthropologically, linguistically, cognitively or sociologically oriented - find their equivalent in the Trobriand Islanders' indigenous concept of "karewaga".
  • Senft, G. (2011). The Trobriand Islanders' underworld of love: Eschatology codified in songlines [invited talk]. Talk presented at The 2011 Tokyo Workshop on Emancipatory Pragmatics. Kyoritsu Women's University Tokyo. 2011-02-28 - 2011-03-02.

    Abstract

    The Trobriand Islanders complex eschatological belief system explains in detail what happenes when a Trobriander dies. Bronislaw Malinowski described the essentials of this belief system in his famous articles "Baloma: the Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands" and "Myth in Primitive Psychology" In these papers he also presented the Trobrianders belief in the fact that a spirit of the dead, a "baloma" can be reborn; in connection with this myth he claimed that the Trobrianders are actually unaware of the father's role as genitor. This talk presents not only a critical review of Malinowski's ethnography of Trobriand eschatology, it also documents highly ritualized songs - the "wosi milamala" the songs of the harvest festival - which are sung in an archaic variety of Kilivila - the "biga baloma" - the language of the spirits of the dead. In these songs the Trobriand Islanders have codified many aspects of their eschatological belief system. It seems that Malinowski was not aware of these songs. Thus this talk provides for the first time a comprehensive ethnographic overview of Trobriand eschatology. Until the mid 60s of the last century the Trobrianders used the "biga baloma" to communicate with the spirits of the dead; however, in the meantime the sungs are still sung during the harvest festival and after the death of a Trobriander, but there are only a few people left who still understand the "wosi milamala". They are a moribund genre of Kilivila - and with them the Trobriand Islanders' complex indigenous eschatology will vanish.
  • Senft, G. (2011). Sprache und Kultur der Trobriander. Talk presented at the Promotionskolleg-Sprachwissenschaft. Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany. 2011-12-07.
  • Senft, G. (2010). Argonauten mit Außenbordmotoren - Feldforschung auf den Trobriand-Inseln (Papua-Neuguinea) seit 1982. Talk presented at Ordentliche Sitzung der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte. Berlin. 2010-01-18.

    Abstract

    This talk briefly reports on how I started my research on the Trobriand Islands, how I dealt with the situation there as a novice in field research on a Pacific island, what kind of research I have been conducting over the last 25+ years, what experiences I have had during this time, what kinds of culture and language change I have observed during all these years, and what my predictions are for the future of the Trobriand Islanders with respect to their language and their culture.
  • Senft, G. (2010). Being a PhD student at the Max Planck Project Group for Psycholinguistics (1978-1981). Talk presented at Changes and Developments in Psycholinguistics over the last 30 Years - 30th Anniversary of the Founding of the MPI for Psycholinguistics. Nijmegen. 2010-06-21 - 2010-06-21.
  • Senft, G. (2010). Concepts of space and spatial reference in Oceanic languages. Talk presented at Workshop: Space, numerical systems and color terminologies: Theoretical approaches and empirical analysis. Vienna, Austria. 2010-10-08 - 2010-10-09.
  • Senft, G. (2010). The Trobriand Islanders' ideology of competition and cooperation in the make - an anthropological-linguistic case study in the times of globalization. Talk presented at 5th Lodz Symposium "New Developments in Linguistic Pragmatics" [NDLP 2010]. Lodz, Poland. 2010-05-07 - 2010-05-09.

    Abstract

    Competition is one of the most typical and characteristic features of the Trobriand Islanders' culture and society. It permeates all areas of the Trobriand Islanders' life. However, in the dialectics of Trobriand society, competition is always based on cooperation between competitors and their supporters. This paper documents and analyzes a speech in which a man in his late thirties transmits his version of the Trobriand ideology of competition and cooperation to a group of schoolchildren in the village center of Tauwema on Kaile'una Island. The speech documents this ideology in the make; moreover, it also reveals that this ideology is already influenced by radiations of present processes of globalization, radiations which by now have reached villages as remote as Tauwema.
  • Senft, G. (2010). The Trobriand Islanders' underworld of love - eschatology in songlines. Talk presented at Comparative Pragmatics Workshop. Nijmegen. 2010-09-06 - 2010-09-06.
  • Senft, G. (2009). Talking about color and taste on the Trobriand Islands - a diachronic study. Talk presented at 8th International Conference for Oceanic Linguistics. University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. 2009-01-04 - 2009-01-09.

    Abstract

    How stable is the lexicon for perceptual experiences? This paper presents results on how the Trobrianders talk about taste and color, and how these have changed over the years. In 2008 I continued fieldwork on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea with the aim of researching the Trobriand Islanders’ language of perception. In 1983 I collected data on Kilivila color terms. The first part of the paper compares these data with the data I collected in 2008. Some of the predictions I made about the development of color categories in 1983 were right. Integrating English color terms as foreign words, the Kilivila color term lexicon has changed from a typical stage IIIb into a stage VII color term lexicon (Berlin & Kay 1969). However, traditional color terms as well as folkbotany terms that refer to plants, fruits and soils used to make colors for dyeing grass-skirts are still used. I also compare the data on taste vocabulary that I collected in 1982/83 with the results of my 2008 taste term elicitation experiment with a taste kit developed by the language and cognition group. I could not find and observe substantial change in this domain. Concluding the paper I compare the 2008 results on taste terms with a paper on the taste vocabulary of the Torres Strait Islanders published in 1904 by Charles S. Myers. It turns out that some of his original results can still be verified. Kilivila provides evidence that terms used for talking about color and taste are relatively stable over time, with just a few effects of language change induced by language contact.
  • Senft, G. (2010). Talking about color and taste on the Trobriand Islands - a diachronic study. Talk presented at 8th International Conference for Oceanic Linguistics. Auckland. 2010-01-04 - 2010-01-09.
  • Senft, G. (2009). Landscape terms and place names in the Trobriand Islands - the Kaile'una subset. Talk presented at 11th International Pragmatics Conference (IPrA 2009). University of Melbourne, Australia. 2009-07-16.
  • Senft, G. (2009). The Trobriand Islanders' ideology of competition and cooperation in the make - an anthropological-linguistic case study in the times of globalization. Talk presented at 11th International Pragmatics Conference. University of Melbourne. 2009-07-17.
  • Senft, G. (2009). The Trobriand Islanders' ways of speaking. Talk presented at 11th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Aussois, France. 2009-06-22.
  • Senft, G. (2009). The Trobriand Islanders' ways of speaking. Talk presented at 3rd Workshop on Emancipatory Pragmatics. Japan Women's University, Tokyo. 2009-03-26.
  • Senft, G. (2009). Talking about color and taste on the Trobriand Islands - a diachronic study. Talk presented at 108th American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. Philadelphia. 2009-12-02 - 2009-12-06.

    Abstract

    How stable is the lexicon for perceptual experiences? This paper presents results on how the Trobrianders talk about taste and color, and how these have changed over the years. In 2008 I continued fieldwork on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea with the aim of researching the Trobriand Islanders’ language of perception. In 1983 I collected data on Kilivila color terms. The first part of the paper compares these data with the data I collected in 2008. Some of the predictions I made about the development of color categories in 1983 were right. Integrating English color terms as foreign words, the Kilivila color term lexicon has changed from a typical stage IIIb into a stage VII color term lexicon (Berlin & Kay 1969). However, traditional color terms as well as folkbotany terms that refer to plants, fruits and soils used to make colors for dyeing grass-skirts are still used. I also compare the data on taste vocabulary that I collected in 1982/83 with the results of my 2008 taste term elicitation experiment with a taste kit developed by the language and cognition group. I could not find and observe substantial change in this domain. Kilivila provides evidence that terms used for talking about color and taste are relatively stable over time, with just a few effects of language change induced by language contact.

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