LINGUIST List 4.968

Sun 21 Nov 1993

Disc: Ritual insults

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  1. , RE: 4.954 Ritual Insults
  2. , Re: 4.954 Ritual Insults
  3. , ritual insults

Message 1: RE: 4.954 Ritual Insults

Date: Sun, 14 Nov 93 17:35:59 ESRE: 4.954 Ritual Insults
From: <>
Subject: RE: 4.954 Ritual Insults

Brazilian Portuguese bantering often includes ritual insults of the
other's mother, as in:
A: Sua boba!
B: A boba e' a senhora sua mae!
(A: You idiot!
 B: The idiot is your mother!)
Thomas Kochman notes this as a typical type of insult in Black English,
and, from other sourcs, I've heard of its wide distribution in other
Romance languages.
Terese Thonus
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Message 2: Re: 4.954 Ritual Insults

Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1993 08:38:49 Re: 4.954 Ritual Insults
From: <>
Subject: Re: 4.954 Ritual Insults

In reading _A sorrow in our heart : the life of Tecumseh_ by Allan W. Eckert
(New York: Bantam, c1992), I noted some discussion and several at least two
instances of ritual insult among the Shawnee in which friends would insult each
other's fetish, or _opawaka_. One incident took place at a formal banquet
hosted by American officials and caused some consternation among the hosts
because of the feigned vehemence of the exchange taking place in Shawnee.
Perhaps there are other examples of ritual insult among Native American groups.

Herb Stahlke

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 3: ritual insults

Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1993 14:24:52 ritual insults
From: <>
Subject: ritual insults

In reply to the query pertaining to ritual forms of hostile verbal
interaction, I thought I might well draw attention to certain types
of verbal dualing in historical context. First I may, perhaps,
mention my own work with respect to traditions that existed
in Northwestern Europe during the medieval period, notably:

Marcel Bax, Rules for Ritual Challenges: a Speech Convention among
Medieval Knights. Journal of Pragmatics 5 (1981): 423-444

Marcel Bax and Tineke Padmos, Two Types of Verbal Dueling in Old
Icelandic: the Interactional Structure of the Senna and the
Mannjafnadr in Harbardsljod. Scandinavian Studies 55 (1983): 149-174

(also see my contributions to P. Pulsiano, Medieval Scandinavia: An
Encyclopedia. New York and London (Garland) 1993, s.v. Harbardsljod
and Senna-Mannjafnadr)

Marcel Bax, Die lebendige Dimension toter Sprachen. Zur pragmatischen
Analyse von Sprachgebrauch in historischen Kontexten. Zeitschrift
fuer germanistische Linguistik 11 (1983): 1-21

Marcel Bax, Historische Pragmatik (..) Diachrone Untersuchungen zu
pragmatischen Aspekten ritueller Herausforderungen in Texten
mittelalterlicher Literatur. In: D. Busse, ed. Diachrone Sematik und
Pragmatik. Tuebingen (Niemeyer Verlag) 1991

Of related interest are:

G.J. Reinink and H.L.J. van Stiphout, eds., Dispute Poems and
Dialogues in the Ancient and Medieval Near East. Orientalia
Lovaniensia Lecta. Leuven 1990; W. Parks, Verbal Dualing in Heroic
Narrative (1990?); two books by Karen Swenson about the Old
Icelandic flyting tradition; and two learned articles by Carol J.
Clover on the Germanic context of the flyting in Beowulf (in
Speculum 1980), and on the flyting in Harbardsljod (in Scandinavian
Studies 1979).

All these studies can be viewed as shedding some light on the
'roots' of present day conventions to settle conflicts by way of a
verbal match, or to establish intra group relations on the basis of
verbal dominance proclaiming behaviour. Moreover, they present data
and analyses that support the claim that verbal dueling is among the
interactional primitives of mankind - and a rather persistent one,
indeed -, and they directly or indirectly evidence the ethological
substratum of this type of human communication.

E-mail reactions must thus be forwarded: BAX.LET.RUG.NL

Dr M.M.H. Bax

Vakgroep Taal en Communicatie (afdeling Taalbeheersing)
Onderzoekcentrum voor Taal en Cognitie (CLCG)

Faculteit der Letteren
Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26
N-9712 EK Groningen

tel.: 050-636118
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