Alternating Generations Again Again

Alternating generations again again: a response to Wierzbicka on generation moieties

By David Nash

In a recent paper Wierzbicka (2013a,b) \(W) proposed eight ‘cultural scripts’ to supplement two definitions to capture the meaning of the pronominal category of alternate generation moiety as in the Dalabon language of north Australia. After detailing some problems with the analysis, I show that, in the author’s own terms, two definitions can replace the eight ‘cultural scripts’. The replacement definitions are more readily comprehensible, and capture more accurately the denotation of alternate generation moieties. Categories such as these moieties are not well described by a prototype approach. Also, the pair of moiety terms need to be recognised as a terminological set. W’s eight ‘cultural scripts’ are mostly logical equivalents of my proposed definitions, and not culture-dependent norms as implied by the label. Such a large discrepancy between the two accounts calls for adjudication between them, and also calls into question the method used by W to arrive at her account.