Bronislaw Maliniowski claimed in his monograph "Argonauts of the Western
Pacific" that to approach the goal of ethnographic field-work, requires a
"collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives, typical
utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulae ... as a "corpus
inscriptionum", as documents of native mentality".
This book finally meets Malinowski's demand. Based on more than 40 months
of field research the author presents, documents and illustrates the
Trobriand Islanders' own indigenous typology of text categories or genres,
covering the spectrum from ditties children chant while spinning a top, to
gossip, songs, tales, and myths. The typology is based on Kilivila
metalinguistic terms for these genres, and considers the relationship they
have with registers or varieties which are also metalinguistically
distinguished by the native speakers of this language.
Rooted in the 'ethnography of speaking' paradigm and in the
'anthropological linguistics/linguistic anthropology' approach, the book
highlights the relevance of genres for researching the role of language,
culture and cognition in social interaction, and demonstrates the
importance of understanding genres for achieving linguistic and cultural
In addition to the data presented in the book, its readers have the
opportunity to access the original audio- and video-data presented via the
internet on a special website, which mirrors the structure of the book.
Thus, the reader can check the transcriptions against the original data
recordings. This makes the volume particularly valuable for teaching
purposes in (general, Austronesian/ Oceanic, documentary, and
anthropological) linguistics and ethnology.