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Culture, Interaction and Person Reference in an Australian Language

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The study of person reference stands at the cross-roads of linguistics, anthropology and psychology. As one aspect of an ethnography of communication, this book deals with a single problem - how one knows who is being talked about in conversation - from a rich and varied ethnographic perspective. Through a combination of grammatical agreement and free pronouns, Bininj Gunwok possesses a pronominal system that, according to current theoretical accounts in linguistics, should facilitate clear cut reference. However, the descriptions of Bininj Gunwok conversation in this volume demonstrate that frequently a vast gulf lies between knowing that, say, an object is '3rd singular', and actually knowing who it refers to. Achieving reference to people in Bininj Gunwok can involve a delicate and refined set of calculations which are part of a deliberate and artful way of speaking. Speakers draw on a diverse set of grammatical and lexical devices all underpinned by shared knowledge about a diverse range of social relationships and cultural practices.
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Table of Contents

1. Preface and acknowledgements; 2. Abbreviations and orthographic conventions; 3. Chapter 1. Introduction; 4. Chapter 2. Bininj Gunwok kinship systems; 5. Chapter 3. Ways of referring to people in Bininj Gunwok; 6. Chapter 4. The kun-debi system of triadic kinship reference; 7. Chapter 5. Reference, grammar and indeterminacy in Bininj Gunwok conversation; 8. Chapter 6. Culture, reference and circumspection; 9. Chapter 7. The path of inference: The unravelling of referring expressions; 10. Chapter 8. The trouble with Wamud: A conversational example of unsuccessful reference; 11. Chapter 9. Person reference: Culture, cognition and theories of communication; 12. References; 13. Language index; 14. Subject index

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