Bride-price, baskets, and the semantic domain of “carrying” in a matrilineal society

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    The semantic domain of “carrying” is culturally salient in the Oceanic language, Longgu. Like many Austronesian languages, Longgu has about a dozen lexically specific verbs that refer to modes of carrying things and small children. This paper discusses the semantics of verbs in this domain, paying particular attention to the most culturally significant verb sungia, which is heterosemous with the noun sungi ‘bride-price exchange’ and refers to the manner in which women carry things supported on their head. The paper discusses meaning components, such as manner and motion, of verbs in this domain and highlights the importance of the association between some verbs and material objects. Further, the paper argues that there are grounds for suggesting the gender of the carrier is entailed in the lexical meaning of some verbs. The paper also discusses whether, given there is no generic verb ‘carry’, there is an underlying semantic pattern to this domain, and suggests that it may revolve around the cultural prominence of the verb sungia ‘to carry something [supported] on the head’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)500-521
    Number of pages22
    JournalOceanic Linguistics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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