Senft, G. (2008). The case: The Trobriand Islanders vs H.P. Grice: Kilivila and the Gricean maxims of quality and manner. Anthropos, 103, 139-147.
The Gricean maxim of Quality “Try to make your contribution one that is true” and his maxim of Manner “Be perspicuous” are not observed in Kilivila, the Austronesian language of the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea. Speakers of Kilivila metalinguistically differentiate registers of their language. 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. This article describes the concept of sopa, presents its features, and discusses and illustrates its functions and use within Trobriand society. The article ends with a discussion of the relevance of Gricean maxims for the research of everyday verbal interaction in Kilivila and a general criticism of these maxims, especially from an anthropological linguistic perspective. [Trobriand Islanders, Gricean maxims, varieties of Kilivila, Kilivila sopa, un-plain speaking]