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Journal Article

Parts of the body in Yélî Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island

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Levinson,  Stephen C.
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Levinson_2006_Parts of the body.pdf
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Citation

Levinson, S. C. (2006). Parts of the body in Yélî Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island. Language Sciences, 28(2-3), 221-240. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2005.11.007.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-198A-3
Abstract
This paper describes the terminology used to describe parts of the body in Ye´lıˆ Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island (Papua New Guinea). The terms are nouns, which display complex patterns of suppletion in possessive and locative uses. Many of the terms are compounds, many unanalysable. Semantically, visible body parts divide into three main types: (i) a partonomic subsystem dividing the body into nine major parts: head, neck, two upper limbs, trunk, two upper legs, two lower legs, (ii) designated surfaces (e.g. ‘lower belly’), (iii) collections of surface features (‘face’), (iv) taxonomic subsystems (e.g. ‘big toe’ being a kind of ‘toe’). With regards to (i), the lack of any designation for ‘foot’ or ‘hand’ is notable, as is the absence of a term for ‘leg’ as a whole (although this is a lexical not a conceptual gap, as shown by the alternate taboo vocabulary). Ye´lıˆ Dnye body part terms do not have major extensions to other domains (e.g. spatial relators). Indeed, a number of the terms are clearly borrowed from outside human biology (e.g. ‘wing butt’ for shoulder).