Gunter Senft

Publications

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10
  • Senft, G. (2018). Pragmatics and anthropology - The Trobriand Islanders' Ways of Speaking. In C. Ilie, & N. Norrick (Eds.), Pragmatics and its Interfaces (pp. 185-211). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    Abstract

    Bronislaw Malinowski – based on his experience during his field research on the Trobriand Islands – pointed out that language is first and foremost a tool for creating social bonds. It is a mode of behavior and the meaning of an utterance is constituted by its pragmatic function. Malinowski’s ideas finally led to the formation of the subdiscipline “anthropological linguistics”. This paper presents three observations of the Trobrianders’ attitude to their language Kilivila and their language use in social interactions. They illustrate that whoever wants to successfully research the role of language, culture and cognition in social interaction must be on ‘common ground’ with the researched community.
  • Senft, G. (2018). Theory meets Practice - H. Paul Grice's Maxims of Quality and Manner and the Trobriand Islanders' Language Use. In A. Capone, M. Carapezza, & F. Lo Piparo (Eds.), Further Advances in Pragmatics and Philosophy Part 1: From Theory to Practice (pp. 203-220). Cham: Springer.

    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.
  • Le Guen, O., Senft, G., & Sicoli, M. A. (2008). Language of perception: Views from anthropology. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 11 (pp. 29-36). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.446079.

    Abstract

    To understand the underlying principles of categorisation and classification of sensory input semantic analyses must be based on both language and culture. The senses are not only physiological phenomena, but they are also linguistic, cultural, and social. The goal of this task is to explore and describe sociocultural patterns relating language of perception, ideologies of perception, and perceptual practice in our speech communities.
  • Senft, G. (2008). Event conceptualization and event report in serial verb constructions in Kilivila: Towards a new approach to research and old phenomenon. In G. Senft (Ed.), Serial verb constructions in Austronesian and Papuan languages (pp. 203-230). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics Publishers.
  • Senft, G. (2008). Introduction. In G. Senft (Ed.), Serial verb constructions in Austronesian and Papuan languages (pp. 1-15). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics Publishers.
  • Senft, G. (2008). The teaching of Tokunupei. In J. Kommers, & E. Venbrux (Eds.), Cultural styles of knowledge transmission: Essays in honour of Ad Borsboom (pp. 139-144). Amsterdam: Aksant.

    Abstract

    The paper describes how the documentation of a popular song of the adolescents of Tauwema in 1982 lead to the collection of the myth of Imdeduya and Yolina, one of the most important myths of the Trobriand Islands. When I returned to my fieldsite in 1989 Tokunupei, one of my best consultants in Tauwema, remembered my interest in the myth and provided me with further information on this topic. Tokunupei's teachings open up an important access to Trobriand eschatology.
  • Senft, G. (2008). Zur Bedeutung der Sprache für die Feldforschung. In B. Beer (Ed.), Methoden und Techniken der Feldforschung (pp. 103-118). Berlin: Reimer.
  • Senft, G. (2005). Bronislaw Malinowski and linguistic pragmatics. In P. Cap (Ed.), Pragmatics today (pp. 139-155). Frankfurt am Main: Lang.
  • Levinson, S. C., Brown, P., Danzinger, E., De León, L., Haviland, J. B., Pederson, E., & Senft, G. (1992). Man and Tree & Space Games. In S. C. Levinson (Ed.), Space stimuli kit 1.2 (pp. 7-14). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.2458804.

    Abstract

    These classic tasks can be used to explore spatial reference in field settings. They provide a language-independent metric for eliciting spatial language, using a “director-matcher” paradigm. The Man and Tree task deals with location on the horizontal plane with both featured (man) and non-featured (e.g., tree) objects. The Space Games depict various objects (e.g. bananas, lemons) and elicit spatial contrasts not obviously lexicalisable in English.
  • Senft, G. (1992). As time goes by..: Changes observed in Trobriand Islanders' culture and language, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. In T. Dutton (Ed.), Culture change, language change: Case studies from Melanesia (pp. 67-89). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

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