Gunter Senft

Publications

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17
  • 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. In A. Storch (Ed.), Consensus and Dissent: Negotiating Emotion in the Public Space (pp. 59-80). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    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 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. (2017). Absolute frames of spatial reference in Austronesian languages. Russian Journal of Linguistics, 21, 686-705. doi:10.22363/2312-9182-2017-21-4-686-705.

    Abstract

    This paper provides a brief survey on various absolute frames of spatial reference that can be observed in a number of Austronesian languages – with an emphasis on languages of the Oceanic subgroup. It is based on research of conceptions of space and systems of spatial reference that was initiated by the “space project” of the Cognitive Anthropology Research Group (now the Department of Language and Cognition) at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and by my anthology “Referring to Space” (Senft 1997a; see Keller 2002: 250). The examples illustrating these different absolute frames of spatial reference reveal once more that earlier generalizations within the domain of “SPACE” were strongly biased by research on Indo-European languages; they also reveal how complex some of these absolute frames of spatial reference found in these languages are. The paper ends with a summary of Wegener’s (2002) preliminary typology of these absolute frames of spatial reference.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Acquiring Kilivila Pragmatics - the Role of the Children's (Play-)Groups in the first 7 Years of their Lives on the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea. Studies in Pragmatics, 19, 40-53.

    Abstract

    Trobriand children are breastfed until they can walk; then they are abruptly weaned and the parents dramatically reduce the pervasive loving care that their children experienced before. The children have to find a place within the children’s groups in their villages. They learn to behave according to their community’s rules and regulations which find their expression in forms of verbal and non-verbal behavior. They acquire their culture specific pragmatics under the control of older members of their groups. The children's “small republic” is the primary institution of verbal and cultural socialization. Attempts of parental education are confined to a minimum.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Expressions for emotions - and inner feelings - in Kilivila, the language of the Trobriand Islanders: A descriptive and methodological critical essay. In N. Tersis, & P. Boyeldieu (Eds.), Le langage de l'emotion: Variations linguistiques et culturelles (pp. 349-376). Paris: Peeters.

    Abstract

    This paper reports on the results of my research on the lexical means Kilivila offers its speakers to refer to emotions and inner feelings. Data were elicited with 18 “Ekman’s faces” in which photos of the faces of one woman and two men illustrate the allegedly universal basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise) and with film stimuli staging standard emotions. The data are discussed on the basis of the following research questions: * How “effable” are they or do we observe ineffability – the difficulty of putting experiences into words – within the domain of emotions? * Do consultants agree with one another in how they name emotions? * Are facial expressions or situations better cues for labeling?
  • Senft, G. (2017). Imdeduya - Variants of a myth of love and hate from the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/clu.20.

    Abstract

    This volume presents five variants of the Imdeduya myth: two versions of the actual myth, a short story, a song and John Kasaipwalova’s English poem “Sail the Midnight Sun”. This poem draws heavily on the Trobriand myth which introduces the protagonists Imdeduya and Yolina and reports on Yolina’s intention to marry the girl so famous for her beauty, on his long journey to Imdeduya’s village and on their tragic love story. The texts are compared with each other with a final focus on the clash between orality and scripturality. Contrary to Kasaipwalova’s fixed poetic text, the oral Imdeduya versions reveal the variability characteristic for oral tradition. This variability opens up questions about traditional stability and destabilization of oral literature, especially questions about the changing role of myth – and magic – in the Trobriand Islanders' society which gets more and more integrated into the by now “literal” nation of Papua New Guinea. This e-book is available under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
  • Senft, G. (2017). The Coral Gardens are Losing Their Magic: The Social and Cultural Impact of Climate Change and Overpopulation for the Trobriand Islanders. In A. T. von Poser, & A. von Poser (Eds.), Facets of Fieldwork - Essay in Honor of Jürg Wassmann (pp. 57-68). Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.

    Abstract

    This paper deals with the dramatic environmental, social and cultural changes on the Trobriand Islands which I experienced during 16 long- and short-term fieldtrips from 1982 to 2012. I first report on the climate change I experienced there over the years and provide a survey about the demographic changes on the Trobriand Islands – highlighting the situation in Tauwema, my village of residence on Kaile’una Island. Finally I report on the social and cultural impact these dramatic changes have for the Trobriand Islanders and their culture.
  • Senft, G. (2017). Understanding Pragmatics (Japanese edition). Tokyo: Kaitaku-Sha.
  • 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). [Review of the book Expeditionen in die Südsee: Begleitbuch zur Ausstellung und Geschichte der Südsee Sammlung des Ethnologischen Museums ed. by Markus Schindlbeck]. Paideuma, 54, 317-320.
  • 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). Landscape terms and place names in the Trobriand Islands - The Kaile'una subset. Language Sciences, 30(2/3), 340-361. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2006.12.001.

    Abstract

    After a brief introduction to the topic the paper first gives an overview of Kilivila landscape terms and then presents the inventory of names for villages, wells, island points, reef-channels and gardens on Kaile’una Island, one of the Trobriand Islands in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. The data on the meaning of the place names presented were gathered in 2004 with six male consultants (between the age of 36 and 64 years) living in the village Tauwema on Kaile’una Island. Thus, the list of place names is quite possibly not the complete sample, but it is reasonably representative of the types of Kilivila place names. After discussing the meaning of these terms the paper presents a first attempt to typologically classify and categorize the place names. The paper ends with a critical discussion of the landscape terms and the proposed typology for place names.
  • Senft, G. (Ed.). (2008). Serial verb constructions in Austronesian and Papuan languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics Publishers.

    Abstract

    This volume of new work explores the nature of verb serialisation in a range of languages from the Pacific region – both Austronesian and non-Austronesian. Serial verbs can be described linguistically as a sequence of verbs which behave as a single complex predicate. A particular focus of this book is the detailed examination given by most authors to the relationship of such uniclausal linguistic structures with the real world notion of eventhood. The book also makes a valuable addition to the description and analysis of serial verb constructions from the Pacific, a region which has generally been under-represented in cross-linguistic discussions of verb serialisation.
  • Senft, G. (Ed.). (2008). Systems of nominal classification [2nd ed.] (2). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract

    This book addresses the fundamental linguistic question of how the perceived world is expressed through systems of nominal classification that are grammatically encoded in various languages. A team of leading international scholars reviews the whole spectrum of nominal classification, from gender systems through to numeral classifiers, providing cutting-edge theoretical interpretations and empirical case studies based on a wide range of languages. The volume presents ideas about the problems of classification, advances theory by proposing typological categories and clarifies the interface between anthropological and grammatical work. Focusing on systems that have a conceptual-semantic basis, the contributors reflect and represent approaches in nominal classification research. This invaluable reference work will appeal to linguists, anthropologists and psychologists alike, as well as specialists in languages as diverse as Australian, Amazonian, Mayan and Japanese.
  • 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.

    Abstract

    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]
  • 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.

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