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LINGUIST List 20.3093

Mon Sep 14 2009

Diss: Anthro Ling/Socioling: Blythe: 'Doing Referring in Murriny...'

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        1.    Joe Blythe, Doing Referring in Murriny Patha Conversation

Message 1: Doing Referring in Murriny Patha Conversation
Date: 14-Sep-2009
From: Joe Blythe <blythe.joegmail.com>
Subject: Doing Referring in Murriny Patha Conversation
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Institution: University of Sydney
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Joe Blythe

Dissertation Title: Doing Referring in Murriny Patha Conversation

Dissertation URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/5388

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
                            Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): Murrinh-Patha (mwf)

Dissertation Director:
Jane H. Simpson
Linda Barwick
Michael Walsh

Dissertation Abstract:

Successful communication hinges on keeping track of who and what we are
talking about. For this reason, person reference sits at the heart of the
social sciences. Referring to persons is an interactional process where
information is transferred from current speakers to the recipients of their
talk. This dissertation concerns itself with the work that is achieved
through this transfer of information.

The interactional approach adopted is one that combines the "micro" of
conversation analysis with the 'macro' of genealogically grounded
anthropological linguistics. Murriny Patha, a non-Pama-Nyungan language
spoken in the north of Australia, is a highly complex polysynthetic
language with kinship categories that are grammaticalized as verbal
inflections. For referring to persons, as well as names, nicknames,
kinterms, minimal descriptions and free pronouns, Murriny Patha speakers
make extensive use of pronominal reference markers embedded within
polysynthetic verbs. Murriny Patha does not have a formal 'mother-in-law'
register. There are however numerous taboos on naming kin in avoidance
relationships, and on naming and their namesakes. Similarly, there are also
taboos on naming the deceased and on naming their namesakes. As a result,
for every speaker there is a multitude of people whose names should be avoided.

At any one time, speakers of the language have a range of referential
options. Speakers' decisions about which category of reference forms to
choose (names, kinterms etc.) are governed by conversational preferences
that shape 'referential design'. Six preferences - a preference for
associating the referent to the co-present conversationalists, a preference
for avoiding personal names, a preference for using recognitionals, a
preference for being succinct, and a pair of opposed preferences relating
to referential specificity - guide speakers towards choosing a name on one
occasion, a kinterm on the next occasion and verbal cross-reference on yet
another occasion. Different classes of expressions better satisfy
particular conversational preferences. There is a systematicity to the
referential choices that speakers make. The interactional objectives of
interlocutors are enacted through the regular placement of particular forms
in particular sequential environments. These objectives are then revealed
through the turn-by-turn unfolding of conversational interaction.



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