LINGUIST List 4.1091

Thu 23 Dec 1993

Disc: Participle, Jakobson, Ritual Insults

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Re: 4.1070 Qs: Matthews, Participle, Candlin & Anderson,
  2. Henry Kucera, Re: 4.1053 Sum: Jakobson quotation
  3. Celso Alvarez-Caccamo, Ritual insults

Message 1: Re: 4.1070 Qs: Matthews, Participle, Candlin & Anderson,

Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1993 08:52:12 Re: 4.1070 Qs: Matthews, Participle, Candlin & Anderson,
From: <>
Subject: Re: 4.1070 Qs: Matthews, Participle, Candlin & Anderson,

Alexis posted a query last week that really threw me:
>Does anyone know specifically when the participle was demoted
>from its traditional role as one of the parts of speech?
Never having heard of the participle as a part of speech, I looked in
the references I have at hand in my office, and my ignorance was
confirmed. Jespersen and Curme, for English, and a variety of
nineteenth and early twentieth century sources for Greek and Latin
make no reference to the participle as a part of speech. This casual
search even gave me a chance to reread A.H. Sayce's fascinating entry
"Grammar" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Ed.: still good
reading although no reference there either to the participle as a
part of speech.

Okay, Alexis, I've bitten. Where are you coming from?


Herbert F. W. Stahlke, Ph.D., Associate Director (317) 285-1843
Consulting and Planning Services (317) 285-1797 (fax)
University Computing Services
Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306
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Message 2: Re: 4.1053 Sum: Jakobson quotation

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 93 22:41:54 ESRe: 4.1053 Sum: Jakobson quotation
From: Henry Kucera <HENRYBROWNVM.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 4.1053 Sum: Jakobson quotation

 It's probably a good thing that good old Roman can't read LINGUIST. He really
 disliked it when people mispelled his name (Jacobson, about six times in one
posting). BTW, I think that I said something about the Latin phrase in my
Jakobson obituary in Language but I am away from the office so I can't check
it (and the synapses do not work as well as they used to).

 Happy holidays to all, Henry Kucera
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Message 3: Ritual insults

Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1993 7:40:28 Ritual insults
From: Celso Alvarez-Caccamo <>
Subject: Ritual insults

In reference to the ongoing discussion on ritual insults, it seems
to me that any culture where irony and other tropes can channel
positive politeness is a good candidate for the use of insults as
solidarity strategies. However, we should distinguish between
such structures as two-part, insult-rebuttal exchanges (mentioned
by Terese Thonus and Mireia Trenchs, and common in Mediterranean
cultures), from structurally-bound, longer ritualized exchanges
where the goal is to assert one's verbal mastery rather than to
achieve a momentary hegemonic position within a larger activity.

In Galiza (NW of the Iberian Peninsula) one form of traditional
verbal dueling is the "regueifa", which takes place at the end of
wedding banquets. The duel takes its name from a type of
traditional wedding bread loaf or cake called "regueifa." The
activity begins when anyone issues a collective challenge, or bet,
in a formulaic, metaphoric format such as "The regueifa is on the
table / Who dares to come and take it?" ("A regueifa esta na
mesa / Quem quere vir a colhe-la?"). Then, two contestants
(usually men, but not necessarily) spontaneously take the floor to
sing alternately hilarious quatrains (for some of you, 4-line
stanzas with -a-a assonant rhyme) where they praise the
excellences of each other's (expectedly) mothers, questionable
sexual potency or inexpert tongues. Like dung-throwing contests
in (I've been told) the south of the United States, the one who
throws his/her verbal dung the farthest will be the winner. The
final purpose is to effectively *silence* the adversary, that is,
to exile him or her from the very territory of discourse that has
been all throughout cooperatively policed by the audience with
affiliative and disaffiliative moves. The looser rarely concedes
explicitly, but stops replying, and retreats to the seat laughing,
while the winner takes the regueifa or bread loaf as a trophy.
Turns (strictly observed) are used either to (a) attack the
adversary, (b) defend oneself, or, like in a relay race,
(c) invite another member of the audience from one's team (family
or friends) to take the floor in one's place. When in trouble,
the contestant obviously tries to get support from a team member
who is known as a "good regueifeiro/a." But if this invitation
fails as no one deems it worth to try to save a hard battle, the
regueifa is also lost.

Well, at least this is the way it *used* to be. History tends to
run against fun. The irony is, now that we enjoy the necessary
technology to indeed record and study this stuff thoroughly, the
regueifa is very seldom practiced in traditional weddings in
Galiza. Now, I imagine, they sing karaoke.

Celso Alvarez-Caccamo
Linguistica Geral e Teoria da Literatura
Universidade da Corunha, Galiza (Spain)
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