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- Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language - Keith Allan, Kate Burridge - Google книги
- Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language / Edition 1
It is in the log of his third voyage, —9, that he first uses the term tabu in an entry for 15 June and then again, five days later:.
When dinner came on table not one of my guests would sit down or eat a bit of any thing that was there. Every one was Tabu , a word of very comprehensive meaning but in general signifies forbidden. In this walk we met with about half a dozen Women in one place at supper, two of the Company were fed by the others, on our asking the reason, they said Tabu Mattee.
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On further enquiry, found that one of them had, two months before, washed the dead corps of a Chief, on which account she was not to handle Victuals for five Months, the other had done the same thing to a nother of inferior rank, and was under the same restriction but not for so long a time. Cook , Taboo as I have before observed is a word of extensive signification; Human Sacrifices are called Tangata Taboo , and when any thing is forbid to be eaten, or made use of they say such a thing is Taboo; they say that if the King should happen to go into a house belonging to a subject, that house would be Taboo and never more be inhabited by the owner; so that when ever he travels there are houses for his reception.
In the journal entry for July , the surgeon on the Resolution , William Anderson, wrote:. In some cases it appears to resemble the Levitical law of purification, for we have seen several women who were not allow'd the use of their hands in eating but were fed by other people. On enquiring the reason of it at one time they said that one of the women had wash'd the dead body of the chief already mentioned who died at Tonga, and another who had assisted was in the same predicament, though then a month after the circumstance had happen'd.
I now went and examined several Baskets which had been brought in, a thing I was not allowed to do before because every thing was then Tabu , but the ceremony being over they became simply what they really were, viz. Cook and Anderson use taboo or tabu to describe the behaviour of Polynesians towards things that were not to be done, entered, seen or touched. Such taboos are, in some form, almost universal. For instance, there are food taboos in most societies. These are mostly religion-based: the vegetarianism of Hindus; the proscription of pork in Islam; the constraints on food preparation in Judaism; fasting among Jews at Passover and Muslims during Ramadan; the proscription of meat on Fridays among Roman Catholics — to mention just a few examples.
Most human groups proscribe the eating of human flesh unless it is the flesh of a defeated enemy or, in rare cases, such as among the Aztecs, a religious ritual. Today, cannibalism is only excused as a survival mechanism as when, after an air crash in the Andes in , surviving members of the Uruguayan rugby team ate the dead to stay alive.
Assuming with Steiner 2 among others that the constraint against Tahitian women eating with men was regarded as a taboo on such behaviour, it appears comparable to the constraint against using your fingers instead of cutlery when dining in a restaurant. It is an example of a taboo on bad manners — one subject to the social sanction of severe disapproval, rather than putting the violator's life in danger, as some taboos do.
However, we can look at this taboo in another way, as the function of a kind of caste system, in which women are a lower caste than men; this system is not dissimilar to the caste difference based on race that operated in the south of the United States of America until the later s, where it was acceptable for an African American to prepare food for whites, but not to share it at table with them. This is the same caste system which permitted men to take blacks for mistresses but not marry them; a system found in colonial Africa and under the British Raj in India.
The effect on whomsoever comes into inappropriate — if not downright unlawful — contact with a tabooed person or thing is severely detrimental to the perpetrator. A woman who commits adultery can be stoned to death under Sharia law in parts of northern Nigeria today. Under Governor George W. Bush, a convicted murderer was very likely to be executed in the US state of Texas.
Edited by Keith Allan
Although most taboo violations do not result in capital punishment, there are plenty of other sanctions on behaviour prohibited under the law — whether this is law as conceived and promulgated in a modern nation state, or traditional lore in eighteenth-century Polynesia, or under church law the Spanish Inquisition. That which is illegal is ipso facto taboo by the very fact that it is prohibited behaviour.
But, as we have already seen, there is more that falls under the heading of taboo. There are taboos in which notions of uncleanliness are the motivating factor. Many communities taboo physical contact with a menstruating woman, believing that it pollutes males in particular; some Orthodox New York Jews will avoid public transport, lest they sit where a menstruating woman has sat. Many places of worship in this world taboo menstruating women because they would defile holy sites. The Balinese used to prefer one-storey buildings so that unclean feet and worse would not pass above their heads; they still avoid walking under washing lines where garments that have been in contact with unclean parts of the body might pass over their heads.
Many communities taboo contact with a corpse, such that no one who has touched the cadaver is permitted to handle food. Generally speaking, we do have the power to avoid tabooed behaviour.
That question has a negative presupposition. The conclusion must be that any violation of taboo, however innocently committed, risks condemnation. Those who violate a taboo can often purify themselves or be purified by confessing their sin and submitting to a ritual. It sometimes happens, however, that a young man unwittingly marries a cousin; for instance, if a part of the family moves away to another locality a man might become acquainted with a girl and marry her before he discovered the relationship.
In such a case the thahu [or ngahu , the result of the violation of the taboo] is removable, the elders take a sheep and place it on the woman's shoulders, and it is then killed, the intestines are taken out and the elders solemnly sever them with a sharp splinter of wood. A medicine man then comes and purifies the couple. Hobley In the Nguni societies of southern Africa who practise hlonipha , under which it is forbidden for a woman to use her father-in-law's name or even to utter words containing the syllables of his name particularly in his presence , inadvertent violation of the taboo may be mitigated by spitting on the ground.
Taboos are open to beneficial exploitation. By tradition, a Maori chief's body is taboo.
Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language - Keith Allan, Kate Burridge - Google книги
Once upon a time, the chief might claim land by saying that the land is his backbone — which makes invading it taboo. Jargon slang swearing and insult. Figure 41 Darkie Toothpaste becomes Darlie Toothpaste. Figure 91 Squatters dispersing Australian Aborigines late nineteenth.
Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language / Edition 1
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