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Title: Ku Waru Language and Segmentary Politics in the Western Nebilyer Valley, Papua New Guinea
Written By: Francesca Merlan
Alan Rumsey
Series Title: Studies in the Social and Cultural Foundations of Language, 10

The highlanders of New Guinea are renowned for their elaborate systems of
ceremonial exchange. Although much has been written about them, previous
accounts have concentrated far less on the conduct of exchange events than
on the structure of exchange systems. This book deals centrally with the
conduct of particular exchange events, and shows through examination of
them how larger social structures are reproduced and transformed. As part
of the emphasis on exchange as social action, the book closely examines the
oratory that plays a crucial part in the events. Basing their study on
original fieldwork carried out in the Nebilyer Valley, Francesca Merlan and
Alan Rumsey focus on an inter related set of large-scale compensation
payments which arose out of an episode of warfare. This cycle is
particularly remarkable, as women stopped the fighting, and participated
for the first time as transactors and orators in the ensuing exchange
events. This book furthers our understanding of the interaction between
social structures and historical events; and particularly of the crucial
role of talk. It will be of special interest to anthropologists and linguists.

"The writing admirably combines detailed ethnography, clear summaries of
the state of the Melanesianist field, and the broader theoretical
implications of their work. Ethnography at its best." Social & Behavioral

Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0521025249
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 405
Prices: U.K. £ 33.00
U.S. $ 58.00