by Dr. Laurence Goldman

The preceding analysis is of direct relevance to an understanding of ‘anger’, both the praxis and met aphorical expression. Many of the terms relating to this state embody the phonemic structures explored above. This can be attributed to the importance Huli attach to anger and more especially verbal expression and emphasis in disputes. The phonemically contrastive set(initial consonant) of
hembo —————————– lembo———————————gembo
all of which signify anger, reveals the degree to which, these rhetorical formulations are determined by aesthetic norms. These psycho-linguistic patterns are undoubtedly responsible for the generation of much of the variant vocabulary for this state: lembo (D.8:204):!2,mba(D.6:34): lewale (Appendix 7:5); higi (scowl: Appendix 7:5): hagai (D.4: 570); manga(dissatisfaction): mangale, all of which evidently manifest the sound similarities discussed previously. To be angry is to be ‘cut’ (gare; D.7:334-335: giri gare reduplicative form) D.9:25:3), or broken (gai); to anger another is similarly to ‘cut him’ (dibade: also accuse/blame). This state is perceived as a form of illness, and to one who continually shows anger the question “have you got leprosy have you got respiratory ailments? “(ge hamua harebe?)” Bu burayu harebe?) may be addressed. The effects of anger are expressed variously in the disputes cited here as
“hitting ribs”(D.2:137), “staring at the heart”(D.2:97-98), or “burning the heart”(D.4:553). It is also expressed as the “rotten parts of sweet potato” (hina linguria)” or like an “insect in the pitpit” {gambe poboraya). The references to heat relate directly to my observations of anger and female sexuality explained in Chapter 1. Ultimately, anger represents a lack of “control” manifested in excessive behaviour like “eating pubic hair”(D.5:69-71) or consuming “raw” food(D.6:25-28). These actions are the result of a “knotted” mind (a metaphor prevalent in concepts of ‘dispute’, or “tied” thought (D.6:27-28;D.4:485-486). Forms of aggressive behaviour parallel cassowaries, to show anger to “point the finger like a cassowary’s claw” (D.2:77-79). The ethno-pathology of these states stresses the property of “heaviness” (genda: D.3:196; D.8:189; D.4:118-119; D.9:240-241); anger must be “untied” (hadole) and made “light” (mo yabia) by compensation (abi -from dabi-to make well). From the above one notes that anger incorporates perlocutionary concepts of ‘talk’ earlier described. These connotations of illness typify four distinct sets of “anger terms” that are situationally bounded. This sociolinguistic behavioural feature may indeed be unique amongst Highland societies:

Dr. Laurence Goldman on Anger

For some of the terms I was unable to elicit any further meaning or application, but it is evident from the other words that ‘uncontrolled’ behaviour and sickness forms are conceptually related. The Hulis’ cognizance of the deleterious repercussions of ‘anger’ states embodies notions of ‘excess’. 1

To breach ‘assertion’ boundaries is counter-productive in phases of conflict resolution, it inhibits processes of “sharing of talk”(refer D.2:1 35-140; D.4:553-554). Interestingly, men insisted in informant
situations that a, b and c above are used only by women (contrary to the empirical situation), which seems consistent with male ideology about females lack of ‘control’ and Mana. However, one further form, biango one ( dog ‘ s wife) is used only by women to young girls who sit improperly {i.e. revealing genital area), and parallels our own phrase “slovenly bitch”. Shame (taga), like anger, is similarly regarded as a state requiring compensation, and this relation between the two D.3(cf.2-3;8;33-35) is linguistically reflected in correspondences between terms and idioms employed. Shame is a state of being “broken up”(taga: sometimes rendered in emphatic form as taga tele: ‘spinning’ shame) resulting from breach of behavioural norms between sexes or kin (ref.D.7),or from the kinds of situation portrayed in D.3. To have shame is “like a Ialuba tree having been bent” (Ialuba gai bini:ref.D.7:167-168;208-209;D.4:947-948), the straightest species of palm in Huli. Anatomical concomitants of shame centre on the “nose” (ngui) – it
will “point down” (D.7:251-252), “break” (D.7:162-163); the man with shame “will be there with a nose like a person who has had intercourse with his sister”(D.7: 381-382). Shame attaches to particular parts of the body that are deemed to be causal agents(ref.D.4:45-48), and more especially is visible on the location of truth, namely the ‘forehead’ (ref. D.4:608-609). A man with shame is a man without ‘control’, an Iba Tiri (ref.D.7:282-283). The nasal aspects of shame (cf.D.5:106 for “swollen nose”) reflect perfectly the importance this body part has in insult forms discussed below. To have shame is to be tainted, contaminated, the nose is analogously the anatomical point most affected by “pollution” (see Chapter 1). Like anger, it is conceived of as an illness, and to ask compensation is to ask for medicine to “rub on the sore”(D.3:192-193). One of the situations that is most commonly held responsible for these states others are dealt with in discussion of case material) is talk which “hits” – insult. In the final part of this Chapter I turn attention to the importance of this class of breach, to what insult consists of and means in Huli, how it reflects all aspects of the preceding analysis of style, and why it is so statistically predominant as a type of claim in this society.

As a preface to the discussion it is important to distinguish insult from both lying and venial abuse. In Dawe where opposing groups of singers ‘fight’ with song to attract and compete for women, the kind of verbal insult illustrated in the text cited (Appendix 7:1,2,and 3) is not considered an actionable offence. It does frequently lead to physical fighting but is nevertheless dispersed as a form of “permissive ill-doing”, a class of actions in which there is acceptance of responsibility and admission that the act is bad which does not entail legal repercussions. Degradation rites in Tege similarly involved situations of ‘licensed abuse’. Slightly different but retaining the above normative implications, are occurrences of insult in dispute contexts. All the cases of insult I witnessed either as initial actions of complaint(e.g.D.3,D.4:part 8, D.10:part 5) or as secondary/tertiary claims, related to verbal or non-verbal behaviour “outside” the disputing forum. This indicates an implicit application of “disputing space”, areas of permitted aggression or sanctioned excess. Once an accredited state of ‘bi'(talk) is initiated insults (e.g.D.3:151-153) are accepted as part of the pattern of speech strategy, they are not condoned but neither do they entail the same degrees of culpability. Within the display arena disputants have a degree of license to insult, a predetermined state of permitted excess with diminished liability. Claims for insult compensation are brought “out onto the public”(D.2:167) place (noina/hama), and this spatial concept is but one mani-festation of the discrimination of boundaries that underlies mediation techniques discussed earlier for n.2. and D.3. Lying and insult exhibit the same form of ‘family resemblances’ that I have shown to subsist between anger and shame. Set out in Table 6 is the Huli vocabulary of mendacity.

Huli - Goldman - Table 6 - Vocabuarly of Mendacity

A number of important observations can be made in regard to the above. First, the Huli recognise a conceptual distinction between serious / non-serious forms of “deceit”, centred on differences of intent and motive. It is expressed as a contrast between talk that is ‘outside’ with talk that ‘hits inside’ (c f .terms E.1-7,D.4:319) – an aspect of the pivotal axis of substantiality. Second, these negatively valued actions manifest the idiomatic concept of ‘knot’, of something which deviates from .the straight. In this context reduplication is again prevalent in some of the terms given in Table 6. The anatomical indices of lying (tindule) are red eyes (dedar a mabi) and swollen nose. A liar in Huli is a person who “talks fast without listening” ( ibu ala l ag a ala laga, hale hole ndo), he will not “share the talk”(ibu bi mo tale bule ndo); he has “two minds and two talks”(mini mende bi kira), a notion of duality and “double-dealing” that is cross-culturally prevalent. To lie is to hold excreta”(tiyuwa), to “throw excreta” (D.4:354-355), to “rub ass” (D.9: 189-190;213- 214), to “hit with excreta”(D.5 : 27); it is something which “comes out the anus”(D.5:49-51). Its counter-normative status explains the notion of “wasteful” product (a manifestation of the axis of utility), something which “smells”(ngubi) that relates lies very directly to ‘insult’. To lie / insult is to make an “excreta talk, a smelly talk, a sick talk” (D.5 : 26-28). These connotations of taint and sickness permeate the language of both anger / shame and lying / insult. Insult is conceived then as a form of ‘anal waste’
issuing from the place metonymically referred to as “teeth track ” (ne haria), “teeth and lips”( ne hambu la) or “lips and tongue” (hambu hege la). The power of tongue is recognised in the children’s teasing game “poison tongue” (hege tomia -tongue poking). Just as anger is denoted by the phonemically contrastive set hembo-lembo-gembo, so insult is signified by the minimal pair hege – mege (‘giving tongue’), or less frequently (‘cooking’ talk) or gurua (criticise). · To insult someone in their absence causes a condition called Hale O (ringing in the ears) and the effected person must recite names of possible enemies in order to clear the condition. Gestural insults are overtly sexual and consist of (a) raising in bent form the second and fourth fingers so as to flank a straight and outstretched middle finger. This is called gi dombo and clearly represents the male penis and testicles (a seemingly recurrent gestural form throughout the Southern Highlands). In anger the gesture is directed towards an antagonist’s nose, emphasizing the importance the Huli attach to olfactory senses. (b) The hand may be shaped into a claw (symbolising ‘vagina’) and the speaker instructs an opponent to consume his ‘sister’s vagina’. Very often in disputes people may express the wider counter-normative aspects of insult by juxtaposing, in a fashion that lends the statement a rhythmic vitality and lilt, the following three terms: gunguru (fighting)/ lairu (arguing) /weru (anal exposure) 2 (ref.D.4:844;D.6:77-78). Paralleling the contextualised use of anger terms for children, pigs and dogs, one may insult a relative in Huli by using the ‘perverted’ form of the normal kin address term either on its own, or vocalised in its pair context: ainya – kainya (mother): aba – kaba (father): hame – kame (father) – (male mama meme – kimane (affine). Consonant or vowel changes in initial or final positions express ‘opposition’ precisely as in the children’s jokes previously delineated. Thus minimal pairing is the common linguistic factor between naming, teasing and insulting in Huli, aesthetic form with rhetorical efficacy. It is significant in D.4 for example, that Dalu expresses the opposition of Atabi to her mother as an instance of insult in which the former says “ainya kainya, “(D.4:217-219;225), a more emphatic declaration of Dugume’s rejection. There are many ways to verbally insult a person in Huli,
but(to continue a line of argument adopted above) there is a marked prevalence of formulations that involve allusions to ‘nose’. Insult is nsmelly talk”(bi ngubi), tainted with the kind of properties associated with female sexuality (ngu; cf.Chapter 1 for Wali Nguni:ref.D.3:38;D.4:704;716;814;D.10: 363); death -itself may figuratively be expressed as an “exploded nose”(D.10:303-304). The commonest insult forms I recorded in use were as follows: tied nose (ngui pongobi), crushed nose (ngui mugule), flattened nose (ngui mbala:D.7:132), open or flared nose (i.e.greedy for pig nose: ngui lalua pe/pole pea), dirty nose (ngui hagama), or simply the use of ‘nose’ by itself (cf.D.4:254). These indicate a stratum and continuum of ideas common to anger, shame and insult.

Other insult modes fasten on body or dress deportment(cf.D.3 and D.4:part 8) and on behaviour interpreted as showing excess. This can take two forms. First, as I have already shown, the person who manifests lack of control may be called an Iba Tiri or designated in a state of “spirit loss” (D. 4: 74-75). Second, people or actions which are conceived as “larger than life” may be labelled Dama, exhibiting supra-normal characteristics. As an insult this most commonly assumes the form of denying or questioning a person’s humanity (ref.D.4:343;369-375;445;715-716). Dama represent both ‘uncontrolled’ behaviour and excessive greed (humbirini: term for both avarice and the land where dead souls migrate to plague human descendants; ref .D. 4: 335; 369-375 ;D. 5: 135-136). This denial of status or imputation of inappropriate and deprecatory bearing is expressed differently according to the sex of the speaker and the person to whom he is directing his insults. In male to male situations, disparagement is frequently formulated as, “You have talked like small children, you have talked like a woman and a daughter, you haven’t talked like a man”(D.5: 45-48;D.4:395-396). The implications and import are indeed very similar to the use of like statements in Western cultures. In male to female contexts denial of “womanhood” may be verbalised as follows:

“You are not woman, you have been eating and catching insects
everywhere, you never carry intestines of pigs, you are
smelly (i wali ndodago ebere gapiaro minu nama ibaga bialu
pene nogo tini mbira nadudugu hanalu hene ngubi ale:fieldnotes,
aid to a brother’s wife).”

The interlocutor here implies the woman is lazy and by thus neglecting her work in pig husbandry she never tastes the fruits of her labours(the female always receives pigs intestines: ref. Chapter 1 for explanation). In reply, the same woman castigates her tormentor by emphasising his physical disabilities ( caused by leprosy in this case):

“Your thigh bone has been pulled out(morowane duguinigo nigo)
you are bad and sick there(ko ore nigo magu ore nigo), you are
going like a woman there(wali ale ni porego), you are going
smelly there(ngubi ni porego). You are not a man you are an
Iba Tiri (agali a1 ·e ndo Dali Iba Tiri); you are cancerous and
leprous(ko ore amali hea burayu amu ni pore), you are going
with puss in your hip(wabene hugu bere ni porego).”

D.11:112-115;127-135. Significantly, the mediators’ remarks stress the affinal relations between the disputants as a means of defining the appropriate norms concerning acceptable argument. To insult a
husband is an inevitable facet of marital relations, to insult a Kiane is reprehensible:

“You two h ave done these wrong these and are talking with shame(wali agali ogo bime ko bida libu tagabime howa larebi); it is not like arguing with your husband (i agalini ndo dagoni)-that man is your Kiane. You are making him sit on the slope(i.e. to have shame; cf.D.5 42-44;75;89 for ‘positional’ as pect to shame); if your husband sees him like this the source will be bad there. With the Kiane or Aruni we never used to argue or fight (Kiane Aruni kago ha lai nalaga gungu nabiaga au biaga kemagoni) it is shameful”.

These techniques of ‘boundary discrimination’, of delimiting areas where argument and insult are acceptable or unacceptable, are discussed more fully in the next chapter which deals with language in communicative routines. The above represents the salient modes of insult in Huli society, and I show later in Chapter 5 how non-authorised use of Malu -i.e. ‘who’ says things rather than ‘what is said’ – may constitute a situation of ‘mege’ (insult). The preceding exposition and analysis of the perlocutionary aspects of talk, has provided the necessary insights for interpreting statistical data presented in Appendix 6. It is evident in Table 10 that insult claims are the third highest category of indemnity action, accounting for 9% of all claims(an equivalent percentage is displayed by Table 19 for Village Courts). Importantly, 83% of these cases occurred during my fieldwork period which perhaps suggests the extent to which insult represents an ‘immediate’ type of issue. It is one unlikely to be recalled later in patterns of recrimination and counter-recrimination between the same parties. Different types of claim do have contrasting levels and degrees of ‘immediacy’, and the kind of statistical format and presentation adopted herein is one way in which to analyse the ‘positional’ aspects of any claim. My observation concerning ‘Mege’ is supported by figures contained in Table 11, where 67% of insult claims were initial complaints. Furthermore, because of heir immediate impact fostered by the conglomerate of ideas concerning insult,anger and illness, it is the type of claim that is most frequently employed to ‘mask’ more deep-seated issues. Indeed, one can appreciate from a glance at Table 17 that 83% of all insult claims are resolved by renunciation (in 10 instances the issue is sim ply ‘not pursued’). Thus, despite the very sub-stantial mataphors in which insult is expressed, and notwithstanding the way in which ‘talk’ is said to ‘hit people’, the statistical material reveals that the injury is somewhat transitory in terms of the compunction to compensation or intention to pursue claims. This masking process of insult derives from its capacity to initiate argument on what are ‘familiar’ terms; once debate is engaged other issues emerge which subsume the original presentation of demands. We may further note at this juncture that 27% refer Table 17) of this conflict genre occurred between affines. This is precisely the area of kinship relations where (as noted in Chapter 1) avoidance of contact is most defined, and thus perhaps any normative breach is more likely to be felt and argued vehemently. It is also the area where the ‘masking’ process of insult is likely to be most successful and this conclusion is borne out by a reading of D.4 and a focus on the relationships between Daiya and Dugume. I have been -concerned here with an analysis and presentation of ‘style’ in Huli discourse . I have attempted to outline the ‘grammar’ of evaluative speech so that in future chapters one may understand how these are used and situated in any conversational event. The discussion has been retrospective over the three texts given, and progressive by inclusion of detailed references to disputes presented further on. ln essence I have endeavoured to pursue how content, form and function are intertwined in any context, which while not a novel endeavor in itself, is one sadly neglected in the study of disputes.

  1. I should also point out that the question “Are you contracting leprosy?”, may be directed towards a person who displays exceptional skills; for example, in making Manda (hair-shapes, wigs). []
  2. This relates to concepts of “excreta” earlier described, and is a currently prevalent insult form in Western cultures. The mouth and anus are equated as “tracks” (haria) for the production of escreta (ti). []

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