From Grammar To Politics

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Alessandro Duranti explores the way traditional oratory in a Samoan village is shaped by the needs of the political process and shows how language insulates ceremonial speakers from the perils of everyday confrontation. He proposes a "moral flow hypothesis" in discourse, to describe a grammar that distributes praise and blame and in that way defines the standing of individuals in the community. This ethnographic journey from linguistic to political anthropology demonstrates that the analysis of grammar in context needs ethnography just as much as the conduct of politics needs grammatical analysis.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520083851
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/22/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alessandro Duranti is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
The Place of Grammar 2
The Political and Moral Dimensions of Grammatical Choices 3
Getting to the "Facts" 4
Intertextuality and Heteroglossia 5
Representations of the Social Order 7
Change 8
Talk and Conflict: The Relevance of Genre Distinctions 9
What Kind of Pragmatics Is This? 11
A Speech Event Approach 12
2 Methods as Forms of Life 14
Field Linguistics 15
Ethnographic Linguistics 17
In Search of a Method 19
The NSF Project 20
Research Agendas and Acquired Social Identities 22
Interviews, Metalinguistic Awareness, and Native Taxonomies 26
Discovering the Fono 28
Interpreting the Texts 30
The Fa'alupega or Ceremonial Address of Falefa 32
What's in a Transcript? 36
Writing Interaction 39
3 Hierarchies in the Making: Space, Time, and Speaking in a Fono 47
A Love for Order and Its Permutations 48
Space 53
Temporal Boundaries 72
Speaking 77
Conclusions 80
4 Politics and Verbal Art: Heteroglossia in the Fono 85
Variations across Contexts 87
The Lauga Plan 89
The Lauga as an Epic Genre 100
Formalized Language and Power 102
Variations within the Fono 106
Conclusions 112
5 The Grammar of Agency in Political Discourse 114
The Content of Political Speechmaking 116
Grammatical Structures as Framing Devices 121
The Expression of Agency in Samoan Grammar 122
Ergative Agents in Fono Discourse: Claims of Accountability 125
Human Agents in the Fono Discussion 125
Mitigated Agency 129
Agency and Power 138
Conclusions 142
6 From Political Arenas to Everyday Settings: The Grammar of Agency across Contexts 144
The Expression of Agency across Social Situations 145
In Search of Fully Expressed Agents 148
The Politics of Everyday Interaction I: Blaming 152
The Politics of Everyday Interaction II: Giving Credit 158
Illocutionary Force of Transitive Clauses with Agents 164
Conclusions 165
7 Conclusions 167
Ethnographic Linguistics 169
Conflict and Grammar 171
The Grammar of Human Agency: From Information Flow to Moral Flow 172
Narrative Accounts 175
Samoan Politics 176
Appendix: Abbreviations in Interlinear Glosses 177
Notes 179
References 193
Index 203
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