by Dr. Laurence Goldman
The male-female opposition impinges on the disputing process directly as a determiner of participants’ speech patterns and interactional strategies. Furthermore, it is inherent in the classification of Huli surroundings into discrete categories of environment (zones); namely, anda (home/private) and hama (public). In agreement with other members of the set of synthesis rules associated with the sexual division, the distinction has both static and dynamic properties. Moreover, these polar oppositions – and we should remember that polarity can accommodate a middle-ground(see Leech 1974:108) – are conceptualised as exhibiting a contrast of direction (beregeda: turned around). To the extent that these oppositions entail the existence of rules concerning boundary maintenance, situations of breach, defilement or disorder are verbalised in the lexis of pollution. This is the basis of the imputed homology between the three semiotic sub-systems of pigs, paint and patter. Given that anda/hama are important spatial and and conceptual poles in the organisation and production of most activities, it should come as no surprise that the theories of M. Douglas on “dirt avoidance” illuminate the Huli data:
“We are left with the old definition of dirt as matter out of place. This is a very suggestive approach. It implies two conditions: a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order. Where there is dirt there is system. Dirt is the by-product of a systematic ordering and classification of matter…” (1966:35).
These notions of contagion parallel Huli ideas about disputes as types of anomaly. Arguments, as an inevitable and recurrent feature of relationships, are not per se condemned here. Rather, when this matter is construed as “out of place” – i.e. when zonal boundaries are inappropriately traversed – it elicits the verbal censure forms I have described. Admonitions are of the form “argue at home” rather than “don’t argue”; movements between zones are rule-governed actions. In this semantically oriented study of disputing I have thus been concerned to explore all facets of the Huli “dirt” model. This has entailed a specification, in precise terms, of the definitional axes involved in assessment and evaluation procedures; most particularly the dimensions of control, substantiality and covertness. Applicable to both verbal and non-verbal behaviour, they are the inherent features of meaning manifested by verbal repertoires – positive/negative evaluation terms, locative and perlocutionary expressions – and it is in terms of these semantic axes that a homologous set of contrast relations exists between various domains of action. In the specific context of disputes, the interpretative scheme developed herein has sought to detail the manner, as verbally realised, in which deviance is controlled through rituals of separation, zonal redirection/relegation, or sanitisation. This identity between dispute settlement and dirt elimination(cf. Douglas 1966:3) echoes the often quoted formulation of Llewellyn and Hoebel (1941) that law functions to “clean up social messes”. Insofar as the system is interpreted as conforming to an “idea”(Douglas 1966:2), or perhaps directed towards its preservation, the epideictic contexts (hama) are of paramount relevance. Which I have frequently referred to as the “display rationale”, is a conscious ordering of behaviour to achieve and demonstrate states (with pigs, paint or patter) purified of aberrancy. Social interaction on hama necessitates utilisation of one’s best pigs, feathers or speech, for these actions are registrable on reputation or renown. Perceived excesses are censured and restrained. The Huli idioms of deviance are quite clearly conched in terms of contamination and illness, And indeed the analysis of “talk about talk”, anger, shame, insult and lies testifies to the very real equivalences between the pathology and treatment of sickness and speech.
Dispute management, as control of impurity, proceeds through application of situational definitions, norms governing appropriate / acceptable behaviour in anda/hama – “There is a Mana for man and wife, this shouldn’t be said in the public place”(D.6:79-80), “This is going bad. You brought the talk from home out onto this cleared place”(D.3:108-109) – and explicit verbalisation of the relevant “sufficiency” grounds of debate. These are the actes juridiques of the Huli forensic system. The societal consequences of aberrant speech behaviour find expression in the censorial use of speech genre terms. In this regard, the taxonomic system functions as a grid for refining verbal infelicities. Vocabulary changes are one means of identifying these “sanitisation” mechanisms; here, processes of aesthetic engineering are indexed by the
prevalence of euphemisms, and employment of the valued lexis of kai, mini mende and bi mone (see Chapter 3). As a corollary of the premium placed on these “high” speech forms controlling rituals of claim presentation and debate, there is concomitant emphasis on switching to these “linguistic equivalents of disinfectant”(Leech 1974:53). Breaches of language conventions in Huli are, however, more than simply a matter of verbal bad manners. Often construed as “insult”, they may give rise to claims for compensation (as in D.10). In such situations discourse is replete with the affective idioms of sickness, and it is precisely here that the injury: healing analogy provides a metalanguage for expressing the meaning of the relation between dispute: dispute settlement. Comprising processes of restoration, rehabilitation and reparation, the import of 11abi11 ( compensation) as a healing rite is an application of “medicine” symbolised by pig-transfers’. The initial phase of the rite concerns the reciprocity/exchange of speech; the second phase is simply a material ratification of the first in Huli thought. While my analysis of “resolution” forms has attempted to distinguish outcomes of compensation, renouncement and pending, it is dispute-settlement as a speech exchange system that deserves further comment. As previously noted, these speech situations retain, terminologically, a continuity with general conversation occasions.- they are all events of “bi”(talk). Nevertheless, disputing is conceptually differentiated on account of specific communicative routines (linguistic rituals) employed, and characteristics associated with topic, setting, purpose and participant categorisation. Eliciting conversational structures here is largely a task of detailing how actors utilise sequencing rules to order verbal exchanges, and how this interrelates with social level/type factors of any claim situation. For disputants, the categories of participation and indeed settlement phase are pre-allocated and predetermined; both are triadic in structure. Debate should proceed through excavation of tene, the distribution and sharing of “talk”, to applications of Mana. The participant framework identifies two tene, with an open-ended membership category of “dombenime” (middle-men): a model of mediation. Talk, as ordered discourse, is marked off from all other forms of verbal/non-verbal behaviour as social reciprocity: ego-centred appropriation of action. This is perhaps linguistically indicated in the disjunction between bi (debate) and lai (argument/ dispute: ref. Chapter 3) where lai is possibly a contracted form of lai ha: to finish saying; argument begins when talking (i.e. bi) ends. This axiomatic norm of speech reciprocity is quite consonant with a perception of tall as a fundamental relational medium. Often rhetorically formulated through the idiom of ”rope”, it orders the universe of ties between individual and groups mapped out in the cosmology of Dindi Pongo. The sequential organisation of speech turns is, in some instances, determined by the type of claim presented. In D.1. these turns are allocated according to norms governing Malu and the precedence relations of Tene: Yamuwini. In this context, then, speech order is a concomitant of relative status as among the Burundi (Alhert 1972), and related contributions are controlled and limited to agali haguene (headmen). Equally, the system of “turns” can be articulated through specification of a dispute’s “sufficiency” requirements. It is in this system where the introduction of Village Courts appears to have radically altered the disputing framework in Huli. A whole gamut of alien speech conventions now operate to constrain speech turns in accordance with two formats:(1) direct selection of participant by naming him, and exclusion of uninvolved parties; and (2) utilisation of speech forms which constrain the next utterance: e.g. question-answer, complaint-apology, request-confession (“adjacency pairs” (Coulthard 1977:53). While the differences between the traditional and introduced systems are partly questions of relative frequency and emphasis, it is neverthe-less the case that the former is characterised by processes of self-selection. This is consistent with the whole notion of self-presentation in Huli society being on egalitarian norms of interaction. There are few ingratiation or deference rituals, greetings, apologies and confessions are largely absent. Topic adherence is maintained by constant attention to, and verbalisation of, sufficiency rules. Self-selection as a mediator” – notwithstanding the importance of kin ties – maximises the potentiality for participation by outsiders, in addition to providing one means of circumventing conflicting loyalties. On account of the factors determining .”turn” incumbency, any attempt to have measured contribution rates should not have yielded significant results. The “turn” is indigenously construed as valued “space” (henge), a rostrum for self-assertion/display, a “platform” (dagia) that corresponds closely to our own notion of “taking the floor”. In view of this, there seems some merit in the suggestion that behaviour with pigs or paint are considered a form of speech surrogate action. In the traditional context, where pressures on “space” were minimal (as in D.1), speeches tended to be longer, and vice versa. This gross generalisation must of course be qualified by the observation that turn systems are determined by the associated sufficiency grounds of the case, and such underlying conversational rules as ”at least and not more than one party talks at a time”. What is q1lite plain here is that organisation of speech is a critical factor for any language oriented analysis of disputing, and especially where that system is perceived in terms of speech exchange. It is generally recognised among sociolinguists that rule elicitation is a more difficult venture for unregularised discourse(conversation/disputes), than for the bounded and planned ritual encounters of joking, insulting, mourning etc. A Huli dispute is a complex event because it may include a number of distinguishable genres ( e.g. pureremo, damba bi), and my approach has been dictated by a concern to specify (and provide textual examples of) the full range of speech forms in Huli. The task of norm determination, however, is considerably facilitated in this ethnographic instance for two reasons: first, the transcribed texts reveal a high degree of consistency and coherence in the rules applied. Their frequency of occurrence is demonstrated in this thesis by the practice of providing extensive cross-references. Second, in many cases these norms have a determinable lexical and stylistic format; symbolic statements about kin relationships, sexual mores and interpersonal conduct are made through these structures. The tenor of the argument made by this thesis has been succinctly stated by Roberts:
“We can learn much more about how disputes work and how power is exercised if a centre of attention becomes the way in which actors see rules and use them in protecting their interests from pursuing disputes. In this context there is a strong figment for looking much more closely than has generally been the case; what people say another they say it in the conduct of disputes” (1979:205).
In this regard, one of the most noticeable properties of the dispute texts cited herein is the prevalence of “setting” procedures (ref.Chapters 4 & 5). Their communicative content, having both a personal an social aspect, is an explicit statement of “sufficiency” rules; these function to orient participants to the immediate and relevant frames of debate. Discourse “terms” are rectified, repeated and referred to throughout the ensuing exchanges, providing a focus and maintaining topic coherence and consistency. Even beyond these structures, however, I have suggested they may retain a level of sequence in the micro-domain of claim presentation. It is a generally attested to factor of semiotic systems that units are amenable to analysis/ description according to syntagmatic and paradigmatic axes, the choice/chain dimensions. Indeed, a fuller treatment of the Manda (wig) complex would have necessitated consideration not only of the iconographic composition and positional elements, but a listing of acceptable alternatives and areas of discretionary feather usage.
Treating the claim as an analogue of the linguistic/ decorative unit, and presenting the data in terms of the statistical parameters given in Tables 10-18, enables us to determine significant patterns with rasped t to the types of claim found in Huli. Without attempting to summarise all the findings here, the notions of “positional” incurrence” and immediacy” may be briefly restated. Attitudes to, and conceptions of, particular claims or speech acts in any society are likely to exhibit a high degree of variation, as will their frequency of occurrence. Given the prevalence of metaphorical idioms of dirt and sickness in Huli, cases of insult (mege) emerge (from previous discussions) as perfectly embodying the “substantial” terms in which talk is said to cause injury. This renders it, as I have argued, a particularly suitable mechanism in the art of impression management. Debate is initiated on “familiar” terms which evoke sympathy and support of others through association with the dimensions of “talk” as pain/illness. Claims of perhaps more economic signific2nce or importance, in the context of that particular dispute, Are resented later; the advantages of indirectness are thus fully utilised in these situations. This pattern of claim presentation, while not universal across the claim types distinguished, occurs frequently enough to be of significance. The above observations are consistent with the statistical evidence which reveals instead to be the third highest category of indemnity action. 67% of all such claims recorded occurred c1s “initial” complaints. However, despite the substantial terms in which insult cases Are argued, Table 17 shows that 83% of such claims are resolved through renouncement. With respect to the compunction to compensate or pursue in<‘enmity, the injury of insult appears transitory. The well-worn Saussurean analogy of the weighting of linguistic items in terms of chess is particularly apt here. We may state that the valency ( or immediacy”) of any claim is dependent on its “positional incidence” within a sequence of claims constituting the inferred entity I have defined as a dispute. Moves in the strategy of claim presentation Are likely to be determined in part by (a) synchronic states: the claim’s Valence within the syntagmatic or; and (b) the conventional values attached to such claims outside a given contention situation. Furthermore, the likely outcomes of any claim will reflect not simply the nature of the claim, relationships of disputants or disputing process involved, but also the dimension of positional incidence”. I would argue that this concept considerably broadens the analysis of disputes, and more especially the traditional parameters used(i.e. grievance type, disputants relationship and status, management process and sanction: cf. Young 1971:116, Starr 1978:111), by allowing us to more thoroughly integrate statistical trends with the semantic morphology of claims and compensation.
To this end, Chapter three was concerned to explore “talk about talk”, and to reveal levels of congruency in the various lexical sub-systems of anger, lies and insult in conjunction with the evaluative axes being employed. In the context of discriminating sequencing structures, “positional incidence” is both a latent convention of claim presentation as well as a recognized form of impression management – an unstated prolegomenon to disputing. The argument above returns us to the theme of opposition inasmuch as claims can be seen to define themselves through disjunction with others. In this study I have been concerned with one further facet of this theme of opposition: that is, the segmental and non-segmental phonetic and phonological characteristics of utterances. An apologia or justification for inclusion of such data need only cite Hymes’ perspicacious comment: “It is precisely the failure to unite form and content in the scope of a single focus of study that vitiates many attempts to analyze the significance of behavior. It is a truism, but one frequently ignored in research, that how something is said is part of what is said”(1972:59). As an endorsement of the above, particular attention has been paid to the form of norm statements(pureremo, gamu) and the linguistic structure/phraseology concerning time, mythical heroes and cultural traditions, as an aspect of the communication and retention of oral tradition in Huli. Stylistic frugal ty, juxtaposition of key concepts and terms, word repetition and the mnemonics of assonance, reduplication and alliteration have been indicated where appropriate. Furthermore, the Hulis own speech aesthetic has been outlined in Chapter 3 not simply in terms of the metalinguistic categories of bi mone, mabura and yobage, but the actual composition of alternate vocAb11lary sets(kai, mini mende) and their contexts of employment. We may view much of this material as an index of the extent to which Huli themselves are concerned with language as a social instrument, and the data here indicates a potentially rewarding field of cross-cultural study so far neglected by most New Guinea ethnographers. Focusing attention on the purely formalistic aspects of the context-specific lexis cited herein, it is clear that the pattern of phonological marking of opposition in many cases is not completely arbitrary for the concepts being specified. We are able then, with regards to the Huli data, to identify linguistic processes and analogues of the principles of constrictiveness and constituent community. As a rider to the above, it needs to be stressed that the task is not simply one of noting random occurrences – e.g. the Fore (Lindenhaum 1976:55) oka: ako (testes:vagina), the Daribi(Wagner 1967) dlrnre/ dllagi (bad:good) or Yara: Karoba (tbe light-skin one: dark-skin one) – for the patterns permeate all verbal manifestations of Huli thought. In this regard, conversational analysts have begun to realize that much of ordinary discourse partakes of the “speech play” characteristics previously documented for specific ritualised encounters (e.g.Conklin 1956,1959). The study of these situations of acoustic engineering requires attention to the shape of any message, perhaps (as Jakobson has suggested) exploited for its own sake (see D.9:16-19 for one example). The point that the rhetorical statement of opposition or complementarity is often marked by an accompanying minor alteration in two sequences of sounds has of course been made by other anthropologists (e.g. Milner 1971:256). It is precisely on account of these structures that we can interrelate the emphatic, instrumental and aesthetic dimensions of the lexical systems used in disputes and elsewhere. Though I have not pursued this morte of analysis, Milner1s(1g71) treatment of the quadripartite structure of traditional Samoan proverbs, showing a symmetry between semantic content, syntactic form and certain phonological characteristics, is relevant to much of tl1e Huli data. We might reformulate one example in the following terms:
|Igiri Yagua||danda danda||In the case of a boy, then bows bows|
|Wandrai yagua||damba damba||In the case of a girl, then bride-price pigs|
Because of the high level of phonotactic restriction nd extensive vowel-llc1rmony rules of the Tiuli language, favourable conditions for the. emergence of such structures exist. Nevertheless, the unexpected frequency of occurrence across the range of data collected, is indeed surprising. In many cases “pairing” (minimal/contrastive sets) is used explicitly to mark oppositions’, and the reader is here referred to the discussions of joking, naming, insults, toponyms, and alternative/eulogistic vocabulary sets in Chapter 3. Insofar as the male-female distinction is often, though not always not , an inherent component of the contrasted terms (e.g. the paired names of Iba Tiri), there seems some further parallel between dominant individualistic motifs. The concepts of pilfering and opposition thus appear to reflect the operation of the ubiquitous axioms of contractiveness and constituent unity at the level of sound, what Milner has called the “paradigmatic message” (1971:255) in meaning. Further exemplifications can be found in the verbal dueling of the Huli Dawe (ref.Appendix 7), comparable in many respects to the retort contests of the American Negro ”dozens” (Abrahams 1962) with their raps:caps (insults:replies), or the serious jousting of Turkish boys (Dundes, Leach & Ozok 1972). While sharing the notion of “besting” opponents, the phallic aggression of the other systems is replaced in Huli by criticisms of “verbal competence”.
The thrust of the arguments forewarned in this thesis concerns a revitalized analysis of disputing through attention to the sociolinguistic parameters delineated by speech ethnographers. The insights gained in the meanings of such social interaction in Huli drive exclusively from endorsement and application of such precepts. The study of disputes must, in part, be but an aspect of the study of conversion. This treatise has been informed with an approach not simply determined by the manner in which speech-focused data enhances our comprehension of disputes, but also an approach which is consonant with the place of “talk” in Huli culture. For the New Guinea Highlands, we have yet to gain the level of cross-cultural perspective on speech that may stand in comparison with the progress made in the fields of kinship or religion.
(An extract from Talk Never Dies: An Analysis of Disputes Among the Huli. A thesis submitted by Laurence R. Goldman for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University College, London. February, 1982., p. 431-441.)