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Proverbs, Naming and Other Forms of Veiled Speech

Abstract : How should one studies formulations that belong to oral tradition, but that emerge directly from ordinary discourse, such as proverbs, idiomatic expressions, or message-names attributed to people? How can they be studied as folklore data, and as practices that make sense socially too? The first-generation of French ethnographers were aware of language issues, under the influence of Marcel Mauss. The ethnolinguistic perspective proposed by Geneviève Calame-Griaule in the 1960's encouraged scholars to pay even closer attention to speech, particularly in the oral tradition, as well as its uses and effects on social life. This chapter contributes to this cross-disciplinary approach, with a study of veiled speech and unspoken in Africa. Beginning with an investigation of proverbial speech, it proceeds to look at the naming process, and in particular the use of names as indirect messages. In the African context, when the power and dangers of speech are taken into consideration by people, identifiable discursive strategies reveal, not only meaning, but also social relationships. By paying attention to indirectness and other uses of implicit information in ordinary communication, the aim of this chapter is to refine the principles and tools of a pragmatic approach to oral traditions and language practices for both anthropologists and folklorists.
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Contributor : Cécile Leguy <>
Submitted on : Monday, November 9, 2020 - 12:43:12 PM
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Cécile Leguy. Proverbs, Naming and Other Forms of Veiled Speech. Akintunde Akinyemi and Toyin Falola. The Palgrave Handbook of African Oral Traditions and Folklore, Palgrave Macmillan Publishers, pp.317-333, 2021, 978-3-030-55516-0. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-55517-7⟩. ⟨halshs-02995792⟩



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