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Edible Gender, Mother-in-Law Style, and Other Grammatical WondersStudies in Dyirbal, Yidiñ, and Warrgamay$
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R. M. W Dixon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702900

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702900.001.0001

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Jalnguy, the ‘mother-in-law’ speech style in Dyirbal

Jalnguy, the ‘mother-in-law’ speech style in Dyirbal

(p.85) 5 Jalnguy, the ‘mother-in-law’ speech style in Dyirbal
Edible Gender, Mother-in-Law Style, and Other Grammatical Wonders

R. M. W. Dixon

Oxford University Press

Virtually every open class lexeme—nouns, adjectives, time words, verbs, adverbals—has a different form in the everyday (Ev) and Jalnguy (Ja, ‘mother-in-law’ or avoidance) styles. Yet Ja has only about one-quarter as many lexemes as Ev. This is achieved through many-to-one correspondences between the two vocabularies. Ja has just a generic term relating to twenty names of frog species in Ev, one adjective for two adjectives of taste, one verb corresponding to seven or eight verbs for types of piercing, etc. Basically, there is a single underlying semantic system, which is projected onto the lexicon at two levels of generality. It is appropriate, when talking in the presence of an avoidance relative, to be vague. In other circumstances one should be as specific as possible. Ja has a minimal set of words, just enough that it is possible to express in Ja everything which can be said in Ev.

Keywords:   avoidance style, mother-in-law style, jalnguy, taboo relationships, semantic system

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