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"... to grasp the native's point of view ..." - A plea for a holistic documentation of the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and Cognition [Invited Plenary]


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

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Senft, G. (2019). ".. to grasp the native's point of view.." - A plea for a holistic documentation of the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and Cognition [Invited Plenary]. Talk presented at the 28th Polish Association for the Study of English (PASE) Conference: Diversity is inclusive: Cultural, literary and linguistic mosaic. Poznan, Poland. 2019-06-27 - 2019-06-28.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-EA83-1
In his famous introduction to his monograph "Argonauts of the Western Pacific" Bronislaw Malinowski (1922: 24f.) points out that a "collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives, typical utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulae has to be given as a corpus inscriptionum, as documents of native mentality". This is one of the prerequisites to "grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world". Malinowski managed to document a "Corpus Inscriptionum Agriculturae Quriviniensis" in his second volume of "Coral Gardens and their Magic" (1935 Vol II: 79-342). But he himself did not manage to come up with a holistic corpus inscriptionum for the Trobriand Islanders. One of the main aims I have been pursuing in my research on the Trobriand Islanders' language, culture and cognition has been to fill this ethnolinguistic niche. In this talk I report what I had to do to carry out this complex and ambitious project, what forms and kinds of linguistic and cultural competence I had to acquire, and how I planned my data collection during 16 long- and short-term field trips to the Trobriands between 1982 and 2012. The talk will end with a critical assessment of my Trobriand endeavor.