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Book Chapter

Pragmatics and anthropology - The Trobriand Islanders' Ways of Speaking


Senft,  Gunter
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Senft, G. (2018). Pragmatics and anthropology - The Trobriand Islanders' Ways of Speaking. In C. Ilie, & N. Norrick (Eds.), Pragmatics and its Interfaces (pp. 185-211). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-1548-6
Bronislaw Malinowski – based on his experience during his field research on the Trobriand Islands – pointed out that language is first and foremost a tool for creating social bonds. It is a mode of behavior and the meaning of an utterance is constituted by its pragmatic function. Malinowski’s ideas finally led to the formation of the subdiscipline “anthropological linguistics”. This paper presents three observations of the Trobrianders’ attitude to their language Kilivila and their language use in social interactions. They illustrate that whoever wants to successfully research the role of language, culture and cognition in social interaction must be on ‘common ground’ with the researched community.