Ethnography of Kinship

Speaking Kunjen : An ethnography of Oykangand kinship and communication, by Bruce Sommer

Linguistlist book announcementː

This book examines the interface between language and kinship in the Australian Aboriginal language Kunjen which is spoken in the Cape York region of northern Queensland. The author shows that kinship relations play a major role in determining the kinds of linguistic interactions that are appropriate for different groups of individuals. The social meaning of utterances depends more than anything else on kinship and one’s kin relations with those one communicates with. The rules of interpretation used by Kunjen speakers to mediate kinship and language are as complex and as pervasive as the grammatical rules of the language itself, and help to reveal aspects of linguistic structure that might not otherwise be obvious. Conversely, kinship structures can be illuminated, if not revealed, by the study of language use.

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