Anthro 33: Culture and Communication

  Study Questions for From Grammar to Politics
Duranti, Alessandro. University of California Press, 1994.

Chapter 2

  1. What is the difference between "'field linguistics" and "ethnographic linguistics"?
  2. What is the "figure-ground relation" representing?
  3. How does it relate to the research project described by Duranti?
  4. What is the "transformation" undergone by Duranti the researcher in the field?
  5. Describe the differences between the language data collected with bilingual speakers and those taken from spontaneous interactions.
  6. How did Duranti's interest in speechmaking start?
  7. What methods did he used in investigating speechmaking?
  8. What can you learn from the description of this process of doing research?
  9. What is the fono?
  10. How were the interactions recorded in the village transcribed and interpreted?
  11. What is the fa`alupega and why it is important for the researcher?
  12. What is a transcript?

Chapter 3

  1. What does Chapter 3 say about hierarchy in Samoa?
  2. How is the fa`alupega useful for making sense of what is going on in a fono?
  3. Why does Duranti say that Samoans love "order and its permutations"?
  4. What are the relevant (emic) distinctions made by the participants in sitting inside of a Samoan house?
  5. What is the relationship between the ideal seating arrangement and what experienced by documenting actual meetings?
  6. What do we learn from the episode of the woman titled Tafili going to the fono?
  7. How does the kava ceremony act as a temporal boundary? What information does it convey to the participants and the researcher?
  8. What is the relationship between the order of kava distribution and the order of speakers?

Chapter 4

  1. In what sense is the Samoan lauga an "epic" genre?
  2. What is the basic plan of the lauga?
  3. What is Bloch's position on what he calls "formalized language"?
  4. What are the differences between the lauga in ceremony and the läuga in a fono described in the article that were illustrated in the videotape shown in class?
  5. What are the features of heteroglossia that are represented in the fono speeches?
  6. How does the article represent the relationship between formal oratory and everyday speech?

Chapter 5 (pp. 114-29, 138-143), & Chapter 6 (pp. 144-48, 151-166)

  1. What are the strategies used in the fono to introduce the agenda of the meeting?
  2. Why is it that participants in the fono seem reluctant to go into details at the beginning of the meeting?
  3. In what sense is the agenda of the fono an "abstract" of a story?
  4. What is the difference between the way English grammar and Samoan grammar treat Agents (i.e. subjects of transitive clauses)?
  5. How are agents defined by Duranti?
  6. How common are fully expressed Agents and what kinds of beings do they tend to be in natural discourse?
  7. How can the study of who used more Agents during the fono speeches be used to make hypotheses about how authority is established in the community and power exercised?
  8. How does the interaction discussed on pp. 154-6 illustrate that participants do sometimes interpret the use of a transitive sentence with a fully expressed Agent (marked by the ergative case) as an accusation?
  9. How does the interaction described on pp. 159-164 illustrate the use of the same construction for giving credit?

Chapter 7

  1. What is the "moral flow hypothesis"?