About Malinowski &c. (pt. 2)

Krzyżanowski, Ludwik 1959. A Postscript to "Bronislaw Malinowski: An Intellectual Profile". The Polish Review 4(1/2): 156-157.

"I wish to open the inaugural meeting of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America. It is an impressive and historical moment, the founding of a new Polish research center. We are deeply moved. Our country has at present no universities, no libraries, no centers of learning. We think of those of our colleagues who die in concentration camps, under persecution, on the field of battle or starve to death, or fall victim to fatal illness. (Malinowski, "opening remarks" from Bulletin of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1942); in Krzyżanowski 1959: 157)

At the time Poland was of course divided by two autharitarian regimes. This here is hyperbole, in a sense, because these sorts of institutes no doubt continued to operate but not autonomously. At the University of Tartu, for example, the first thing the Soviet powers did was make Russian language and Marxist economics mandatory for all students.

In order to avoid any misunderstandings I wish to emphasize that the Institute has no political or partisan intentions. We shall devote ourselves exclusively and strictly to scientific and cultural work, whether in philosophy, the natural sciences, or the social sciences. Indeed, why should anyone suspect us of Political intentions? What are politics? At best, it is the use of power in administration and defense. We have no power, nothing to administer or defend - except reason, sanity and decency. At worst, politics is the misuse of speech, clever manipulation and intrigue. (Malinowski (ibid); in Krzyżanowski 1959: 157)

But reason, sanity and decency is exactly what Soviets lacked. Learned men had no place in that system unless they forsake thir reason, sanity and decency. The latter is especially symptomatic, as is evident from the recent local uproar about some Soviet era journalist being nominated and given the Tartu citizenship award despite his lying and "outing" people as dissidents some decades ago.

Wallace, Anthony F. C. and Raymond D. Fogelson 1961. Culture and Personality. Biennial Review of Anthropology 2: 42-78.

[...] the beginning of a crystallization of theory in an area that may loosely be called "communication and cognition"; and the first signs of an interest in the relation of various physiological and biochemical processes to personality and culture. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 42)

At the moment I'm attempting to crystallize "phatic theory".

As Schneider (250) has noted, the subdiscipline of culture and personality [|] "is amorphous and so internally ill-differentiated that its boundaries shade off into all other fields"; one reason the boundaries are so vague is the fact that much of its conceptual apparatus, without its jargon and technique, has been gradually incorporated into the work of scholars in such fields as social organization, ethnography, area studies, community studies, applied anthropology, and the anthropology of development. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 42-43)

Phraseology. PC is amorphous and phatic studies so internally ill-differentiated because, IMO, his English is rather archaic, even impenetrable to readers not accustomed to literature from that age, and linguists haven't apparently taken the time to read his major works to find explanations for his archaisms.

Much work is publisheh that contains data or reflections relevant to culture-and-personality issues but that does not consciously attempt to contribute to the theoretical development of the field. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 43)

Likewise. "Phatic theory" sounds even absurd when one considers how little effort is spent on unification. There is not even a central body of literature to rely on, some picking Malinowski, others Jakobson, and others yet some tertiary source closer to modern day, mostly from the last decade or so (e.g. Julia Elyachar or Vincent Miller).

The criticism of "group character" studies (that is, studies of national character, basic personality, modal personality, ethos, and the like) has continued. [...] Honigmann suggests in an interesting paper that the study of ethos [|] (the emotional style of a people) need not be dependent upon the analysis of motivational or conflict structure, and illustrates the thesis with a description of the ethos of the Great Whale River Eskimo. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 44-45)

In PC national character is most closely tied to this sort of ethos because "atmosphere" is an emotive concept.

Engelmann suggests that societies may be classified as more or less perceptivist or activist. The perceptivist society encourages the individual to sense fully the uniqueness of each experience; the activist society, classifying wide ranges of behavior as equivalent, encourages a monotonous uniformity in experience. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 46)

Very reminiscent of Dorothy Lee's lineal and nonlineal codification, where unique "bumps" of the Trobriand native are contrasted to the lineal flow and goal-orientedness of the Western peoples.

[...] that major stable systems - including religious beliefs, myths, and rituals - are the institutionalized legacies of half-forgotten revitalization movements whole codes have survived in distorted form. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 57)

Phraseology. Distortion - mangling.

One of the serious difficulties in communications theory is defining the role of cognitive processes in the theory. In extreme formulations, cognition is ignored; only "messages" are considered. But what is a "message"? If any meaningful stimulus (i.e., a stimulus that elicits a specific response) is a message, then indeed man communicates not only with his fellow men and a few animals, but also with sticks and stones and stars, cosmic rays and clouds, and individual onions. This can lead to a spiritually enriching, Wordsworthian pan-communication, but it makes it difficult to distinguish between processes of intentional communication and other kinds of dynamic physical systems. The analysis of intentional communication requires the study of meanings in the cognitive, semantic sense. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 59)

The already all too familiar problematic of distinguishing communication from other forms of information and signification. The "meaningful stimulus" definition would make PC communication, not the least so because it is also intentional. "Pan-communication" refers to the tendency to "communicationalize" non-communicative phenomena (i.e. the case of "phatic images", for example).

In general, the problem is to relate these features of a human social mentality to some psychological capacity dependent on increase in brain size, and capacity for complex symbolic thought is usually felt to be the crucial connecting link. (Wallace & Fogelson 1961: 61)

Contra Malinowski's "exact meaning" his own ethnographic reports testify a distinct capacity for complex symbolic thought among the natives. Metaphysics is not the only outcome of this capacity.

Webster, Steven 1982. Dialogue and Fiction in Ethnography. Dialectical Anthropology 7(2): 91-114.

Perhaps not unlike Malinowski in his ethnographic amnesia, Geertz spared us further discomfort and changed the subject from the epistemology of a profound, if uniquely distrusting, intimacy between ethnographer and informant, to the epistemology of how the ethnographer understands. An epistemological context which mystifies the native and overlooks the ethnographer himself seems to supplant the earlier insight where both were all too transparent to one another, and authenticity somehow unproblematic. (Webster 1982: 92)

I thin Malinowski not only mystifies but simplifies the native. For me, this is most evident in his theory of native communication (PC) following the lines of "social vice" in a British conversation manual. It is almost as if he were to "pay back" for the mocking and ridicule he endured to gain insight into kula by giving the impression that the native is an abhorrant conversation partner, just like the uneducated classes in Britain.

To recapitulate: Malinowski experienced a profound alienation in the midst of his hosts that often betrays disdain for them, erotic distractions, and doubts about himself that would not be unfamiliar to most ethnographers. He set many high standards for full field reporting, yet apparently assumed that the conditions of research were separable from his scientific purpose. (Webster 1982: 95)

Another way of saying that he did not apply the fieldwork standards with which he had become so intimately associated (Darnell 1977: 412). Also, Hsu (1979: 518) "counted some 69 entries in which [Malinowski] expressed various degrees of aversion toward [natives], from irritation to anger to hatred."

Although the gap between cultures may be theoretically bridgable, few field researchers would presume to have overcome it, and most would have to admit to an impenetrable alienation between themselves and their hosts, balanced more or less by the accomplishment of some degree of understanding. (Webster 1982: 95)

Phraseology for discussing the reasons why Malinowski might have had to paint such a simplified picture of the natives' mental life.

The cultural basis of his own conviction may not have been so clear to Evans-Pritchard who, after all, confronted a proffessional audience no less dubious of primitive rationality than the population at large. (Webster 1982: 95)


In fact the important thing is to recognize the distance in time as a positive and productive possibility of understanding. It is not a yawning abyss, but is filled with the continuity of custom and tradition [...] (Gadamer, Dialogue and Dialectic, 1976a, p. 123).
How far can this intra-cultural and temporal problem be extended to the inter-cultural and synchronic problems of social anthropology? (Webster 1982: 99)

I think archive.org gives us moderns access to sources that would have been rather difficult to consult even a decade or two ago. It's one thing to notice Mahaffy in the text and trust the quotation, and another thing to download the book and actually read it.

In The Sense of an Ending, Kermode explored the ways in which both fictional and historical or factual accounts of the world necessarily "make sense", impute "followability", especially a teleology of beginning, middle, and ending, to a phenomenal experience of contingency and opacity. (Webster 1982: 104)

Is it a good idea, really, to construct a pseudo-encyclopedia of PC, as I'm apparenttly doing? Is the text of PC a fully logical sequence?

[...] furthermore, false, insidious, or totalitarian fiction is in principle distinguishable from innocent fiction insofar as the latter explores rather than dictates the human world and only calls for conditional assent. (Webster 1982: 105)

I'd like to explore the context of PC rather than dictate the results of an opaque synthesis. Moreover, I believe that a similar exploration will be under way with Jakobson's phatic function, which Kulkarni (2014) "explored" very poorly.

If we misconstrue contemporary hermeneutics in this same way, it is stillborn: on the one hand, we end with an objectification of Malinowski's personal preoccupations as controllable variables in the midst of Trobriand social process; on the other hand, we opt out in a subjectification appropriate only as a supplementary "personal approach" in methodology, or a foray into literature respectfully distanced from the serious ethnography. (Webster 1982: 110)

The methodological role of Malinowski's diary.

Homans, George C. 1982. The Present State of Sociological Theory. The Sociological Quarterly 23(3): 285-299.

The curious thing is that all of them held the same theory, but that fact did not become apparent, because none of them, again with the exception of exchange theory, made its theory explicit. All were well employed stating and testing empirical propositions. But these do not make a theory. What passed for theory in all the schools were discussions of what they intended to do. But such discussions are metatheoretical, not theoretical. (Homans 1982: 285)

The importance of explicating the theory. I protest against "phatic theory", used liberally, because no such thing has been made explicit. It may be held that there is an implicit theory in PC, but it remains to be seen whether there really are any hypotheses to prove or disprove. Most just take it as a given.0

Usually we do not dignify the explanation of a single empirical proposition with the name of a theory. What we call a theory is the explanation of a number of propositions in a single field, when all the explanations share some of the same general propositions. (Homans 1982: 286)

In PC the set consists essentially of to types elements: the words of greetings in language and the sentences that flow automatically in speech. The proposition is that these are meaningless, or at least that their meaning is not "symbolically theirs", whatever that means..

The first reason for taking psychological propositions as the covering laws of psychology is general. J. S. Mill stated this reason early and well (1843, bk. 6, chap. 7, sec. 1):
The laws of the phenomena of society are, and can be, nothing but the laws of the actions and passions of human beings united together in the social state. Men, however, in a state of society are still men; their actions and passions are obedient to the laws of individual human nature. Men are not, when brought together, converted into another kind of substance, with different properties. [...] Human beings in society have no properties but those which are derived from, and may be resolved into, the laws of the nature of individual man. In social phenomena the Composition of Causes is the universal law.
Watkins (1959, in Gardiner, 1959: 505) has called this position "methodological individualism." (Homans 1982: 287)

That's what I was afraid of. The quotation from Mill is eerily reminiscent of Spencer, and it ultimately leads to a discussion of methodological individualism. Not sure if researchers dealing with it - and there are many, even in UT philosophy department a thesis was defended on the subject - have looked into Durkheim (who is the proponent of this subject for Malinowski).

Finally I added a couple of propositions about the determinants and results of emotional behavior such as aggression and approval. (Homans 1982: 288)

Affirmation begs approval.

I believe it is quite easy to show that all the current school of sociology, with the exception of what I shall call "societal functionalism," use propositions of behavioral psychology to explain the phenomena they happen to be interested in. (Homans 1982: 289)

Exactly the case with "phatic studies", which employ the term on whatever speech on non-speech phenomenon is under study without much regard for the original context of definition.

Some social scientists dislike the alleged hedonistic implications of behavioral psychology: all those individuals pursuing rewards, apparently for themselves alone. But behavioral psychology has no such implications, not even at its very base in social behavior. Social exchange is unlikely to continue unless each party rewards the other. (Homans 1982: 290)

Hah, PC not only has hedonistic implications, it is basically constructed upon the hedonistic principle of pleasure. The statement about rewards: "it is quite essential for his pleasure, and the reciprocity is established by the change of rôles" (PC 5.6).

Both the anthropologists called themselves functionalists. But what Radcliffe-Brown meant by function was the part an action or institution played in maintaining the survival of a society; what Malinowski meant was the part it played in rewarding an individual or individuals. (Of course if the individual members of a society cannot feed themselves because they cannot get fish or other food, the society will not survive either.) But the emphases of the two anthropologists were clearly different. Radcliffe-Brown was what I called a societal functionalist, Malinowski, an inidvidualistic one. (Homans 1982: 295)

Apt. This is evident from the psychological substrata of PC (individual self-enhancement). Many have noted the discrepancies between the sociological and psychological explanations in Malinowski's work.

Instead the word function as he uses it can be translated without any loss of meaning whatever as the reward provided by each set of participants to the other participants with which they exchange rewards in a ring of exchanges: the poor immigrants, the machine and the politicians, and the corrupt businessmen. (Homans 1982: 296)

Huh. Could one replace "function" with "reward" in the peripatetic triad? Emotive, behavioural, and cognitive rewards? In case of Malinowski's social function of speech, "social reward" would certainly fit in a sense.

Kluckhohn, Clyde 1943. Bronislaw Malinowski 1884-1942. The Journal of American Folklore 56(221): 208-219.

In general, one does not get theoretical profundities from Malinowski. He has no flair for the intricate, sometimes tortuous, conceptual subtleties which we get from Bateson, for instance. As a theorist, Malinowski's forte was as an integrator - often at a rather superficial level. There is no doubt that he asked many of the right questions and that in the later years of his life he was preoccupied with some of the most central dilemmas in the conceptualization and presentation of cultural materials. (Kluckhohn 1943: 209)

This is how I should look at it. His subversion of Mahaffy's art of conversation and Barton's treatment of salutations are not very profound but he does manage to pose interesting questions which might not otherwise have been answered. Presently, I don't think they are. But when re-formulated in ample context, I think they might.

No, I am convinced that my sense of emptiness on re-reading Malinowski was because his message is essentially simple, almost devoid of deep insights and precious subtleties. I believe that in the long run Malinowski's reputation will rest upon his capacity in expression, upon his field data as such, and upon his crusade for theory in anthropology (rather than his own theoretical formulations). (Kluckhohn 1943: 209)

I am not sure this is really the case, at least for PC, which does boast of some subtleties that require study rather than just reading.

Finally his talents for communication implemented his facile eclecticism in theory. From Durkheim, Frazer, Ogden and Richards, American anthropologists, and from various psychologists he fused elements to produce a conceptual scheme which, if not profoundly original and not without internal contradictions and difficulties, was at least a usable, explicit, pro tempore theoretical structure. (Kluckhohn 1943: 210)

How much did Ogden and Richards really influence him? Ben Kimpel (1968) put them on the same level as Frazer with regard to religious rites, which I perceived as unfounded because neither of the two philologists, to my knowledge, dealt very deeply with religion (I could be sorely mistaken).

Moreover, I get the impression that, after he had studied Frazer and Seligman, his perusal of the ethnographic data provided by others was mostly limited to a hasty scanning. His control of the ethnography of other regions appears superficial for an anthropologist of his eminence. (Kluckhohn 1943: 212)

"Kluckhohn suggested also that in the later part of his career Malinowski's reading was limited. This was recently corroborated in part by Firth who pointed out, however, that it was Malinowski's practice "to have works read to and discussed with him."" (Symmons-Symonolewicz 1958: 67)

In the case of someone like Malinowski who has lived long in the society and who speaks the language we are, in the greater number of cases, probably not unwarranted in taking his word (or implicit suggestion) that a given incident is typical or atypical. And yet - in terms of what we know and suspect as to the intrusion of the "personality" of the field worker into the selection of his data and the crystallization of his dominant impressions - would we not be justified in demanding even from this sensitive observer some dispassionately factual controls of this sort? (Kluckhohn 1943: 214)

Hence the "want to reduce [Malinowski's] text to a psychological symptom" (Payne 1981: 417).

More refined categories such as Merton makes between "manifest function" and "latent function," Talcott Parsons between "functionally diffuse" and "functionally specific," Linton between "form," "meaning," "use," and "function," have brought a wider measure of understanding and agreement. Almost no one today would maintain that any part of a culture would long endure unless that part constituted a set of traditionally enjoined responses which were in some way adjustive (i.e., removed tensions) for individuals or adaptive (i.e. promoted the survival) for the society. But the sense in which particular responses were adjustive or adaptive is often much less simple, much less obvious than it appears to Malinowski. (Kluckhohn 1943: 217)

I can only hope to some day find these strains in the extensive literature of authors mentioned. Adjustive/adaptive I'll take from here as it is.

The "functionalists" have seen very clearly how the solidarity of a society was symbolized and reinforced by, especially, ritualistic behaviors. But they have not been clear as to how, from the standpoint of the individual actor moving through cultural patterns, the fulfillment of form becomes, in a sense, an end in itself. They have tended too much to look for intrinsic and invariant connections between particular symbols and particular activities, forgetting the "accidents" of history. The work of the "functional" anthropologists - so long as they think they can dispense with the time dimension - is not calculated to answer the question: why is it that exactly these and no other forms meet these and no other needs in a particular society at a particular period? (Kluckhohn 1943: 218)

Touching upon the weakness of the psychological aspect. How, indeed, did Malinowski peer into the natives' minds to find no reflection of linguistic content? It rather seems that he was going by his own interests in questioning the informants and made such a negative characterization of their communication patterns (PC) because he was simply annoyed by non-"serious" informants. PC is an end in itself opposed to the ends of the ethnographer. As to "needs", which in that period went under the heading of "sentiments", their treatment in PC doesn't go much beyond listing them in curiously similar order as Spencer did half a century earlier, indicating that these might not have been the true "needs" of native society but mere juxtapositions.

Gregg, Dorothy and Elgin Williams 1948. The Dismal Science of Functionalism. American Anthropologist 50(4): 594-611.

All are reluctant to describe human behavior in other than metaphorical terms. All exhibit a strong and unwavering belief in some pre-established social harmony ("natural order"). And all the dedicated to the demonstration of this natural order by seeking out and delineating useful purposes for all the major institutions of society. (Gregg & Williams 1948: 594)

The problem of ahistoricity described by Kluckhohn (above, unquoted, because commonplace in critiques of functionalism).

In the first place, the functionalist studies "how men and women are motivated in their mutual relations by feelings of attraction and repulsion, by cooperative duties and privileges, by profits drawn and sacrifices made." The emphasis upon motives, with its framework of hedonism in the Newtonian setting of "attraction" and "repulsion"; the concept of society as cooperative relations among "individuals"; the reduction of all social behavior to convenient commercial entries of "profits" and "sacrifices" - the definition cannot fail to elicit a sense of understanding and intellectual partnership in the breast of the economist. (Gregg & Williams 1948: 594)

In PC there is an implicit principle of hedonism in pleasure and pleasantness. Wheres somewhere above it was framed in terms of "rewards" (Homans), here "attraction" can be added to the list.

Among those who contribute to the functionalist line the economist will discover men known to him for their work in economics (Pareto, Parsons), and this will strengthen the response of fellowship. (Gregg & Williams 1948: 594)

Common intrests strengthen the response of fellowship.

"[...] Activities are carried out because they provide some sort of gratification." "Human beings are driven to behave as they do by impulses that demand gratification and by tendencies to avoid pain." "An effective equilibrium [...] of the social structure [...] in maintained as long as satisfactions accrue to individuals." (Gregg & Williams 1948: 596)

More synonyms for the hedonistic pleasure principle.

The result of describing institutional behavior in terms of "goals" and "motives" is to credit almost every custom and activity with instrumental efficacy. Activities quite dissimilar (on the surface) are seen to be "really" of the same order, and thus a usefulness is revealed of behaviors whose contributions to the health of the community is not visible to the naked eye. (Gregg & Williams 1948: 598)

Consider the paradox of purposeless expression of preference or aversion which has the purpose of creating sociable atmosphere.

"Non-rational" sentiments and affects are found to be "essential components in social orientation"; when they are endangered, orientation and balance "can be restored only by symbolic means, usually by ritual." [Williams, "The Method of Understanding as Applied to the Problem of Suffering", 1940, pp. 372, 382] It follows that ritual such as witchcraft is "a major instrument for dealing with aggression and anxiety." [Kluckhohn, Navaho Witchcraft Papers, 1944, pp. 39-72.] (Gregg & Williams 1948: 599)

Are the sentiments listed by Malinowski "non-rational"?

Similarly "the dogmatic affirmations of religion" satisfy the needs for "positive affirmations of stability, success, and continuity," for "intellectual, emotional, and pragmatic control of destiny of chance." (Gregg & Williams 1948: 599)

Conation, action, etc. subsumed under "pragmatic" (in Malinowski's "The Group and the Individual in Functional Analysis"?).

Ceremonials are necessary to keep certain sentiments alive. "Without the ceremonial these sentiments would not exist, and without them the social organization in its actual form would not exist." [Radcliffe-Brown, The Andaman Islanders, 1933, pp. 229-230)] Also necessary to the preservation of social patterns are penalties for their infringement.
Culture must ensure the continuity of social life by providing techniques for inhibiting individual tendencies which might interfere with cooperation and for the suppression or elimination of individuals whose conduct is anti-social. [...] It must provide the individual with techniques for escaping from reality and with a series of compensations for the discomforts and thwarting which his submergence in the corporate existence of the group inevitably impose upon him. [Linton, The Study of Man, 1936, p. 412]
Status, religion, magic, taboo are all necessary if societies based on status, religion, magic and taboo are to remain in their "present state." (Gregg & Williams 1948: 601)

Interestingly, this keeping certain sentiments alive is pretty much the point of Durkheim demon of oratorical inspiration, and Spencer's "checking impulses". As to "techniques or inhibiting individual tendencies", it might serve as one answer - among several - to Malinowski's question of whether or "the technique of speaking" pure sociabilities "can be regarded [...] as a mode of action" (PC 7.1-3).

The distinction between civilization and culture is that between means and "ends-in-themselves." In other words, "culture" is no earthly use to anyone, and that is what housewives and mechanics have been saying about the traditional all the time. (Gregg & Williams 1948: 609)

Synonym for "futilities".

Kluckhohn, Clyde 1961. Notes on Some Anthropological Aspects of Communication. American Anthropologist 63(5): 895-910.

I take as my general definition of communication Hockett's (1958: 573): "communication is those acts by which one organism triggers another." (Kluckhohn 1961: 895)

By nearly all imaginable definitions of communication, PC is communication.

To what extent do words for the same persons, objects, or events tend to be acquired first or very early in the child's vocabulary? Is approximately the same vocabulary level, mastery of syntax, and phonological control characteristic of, say, the three-year old child across cultures? Is the growth rate in vocabulary from infancy to adulthood (proportional to total vocabulary of the language) comparable in different languages and cultures? Roman Jakobson and a few others have pioneered such investigations, but most field workers in linguistics and anthropology have neglected to provide sufficiently comprehensive and detailed data. (Kluckhohn 1961: 895)

What Jakobson was known for in America before his "Linguistics and Poetics" (1960d).

I assume that a cultural anthropologist is concerned primarily with what language does to people as manifested in their behavior. (Kluckhohn 1961: 896)

What does language do in PC? Propitiate? Relax? Establish a personal connection?

In 1953, a group of psychologists, linguists, and anthropologists meet to consider the Whorf hypothesis (Hoijer 1954). Nothing like agreement was achieved. Indeed, there was little agreement as to what Whorf actually meant. His writings tended to be reacted to almost as projective instruments. (Kluckhohn 1961: 902)

Nearly the case of PC.

A Japanese linguist (Nakamura 1954) says "[...] the te-ni-o-ham auxiliary parts of speech [which are lacking in classical Chinese and, according to Nakamura, give Japanese its distinctive character] making their appearance amidst all kinds of words and sentences, serve to emphasize certain connotative meanings and to evoke attention to some aspects of things, distinguishing delicate variations of feeling and volition and leaving rich overtones of meaning just because of their ambiguity." He instances the particles wa and ga. Japanese culture notably is themed by this "aesthetic nicety." (Kluckhohn 1961: 903)

Phraseology: PC evokes attention to the social context of language use, and does so well exactly because of its inherent ambiguity (giving way to intuitive grasp of a set of related phenomena).

Ben-Amos, Dan 1993. "Context" in Context. Western Folklore 52(2/4): 209-226.

In contemporary usage the term "context" refers to a broadly defined background of a composition or a structure, as well as to the parts that precede and follow a given passage. (Ben-Amos 1993: 209)

Past, present, and future. Present being the accompanying "background".

The meaning of a text is its meaning in context. (Ben-Amos 1993: 210)

Somehow this platitude feels easily refutable, as with ancient texts, such as carvings on sticks and stones, the meaning of which can be ascertained from linguistic context (knowing the language) without any recourse to its original context, its authors, audience, or social role. It's almost as if there's a difference between intent and effect at play: "meaning" means purposing, which is a psychological factor, whereas "meaning in context" seems to refer to the actual outcome.

According to The Centennial Index of the Journal of American Folklore the term appears first in Miller (1952), and since then, particularly in the sixties, it has become a standard term in folklore scholarship in the United States. (Ben-Amos 1993: 210ff)

"Too often one has a body of items each of which is living in splendid isolation, without any relation to a context. In our everyday life we are only too often misunderstood because people have selected a phrase we have uttered or written, and failed to see it in relation to its setting. In the realms of folklore this is also very true, for here also context is all important." (Howes 1930: 249)

In such a renaming, text becomes a metaphor for context. Such a rethinking of cultural events opens them up for inexhaustible interpretations and discoveries of new meanings (Geertz 1973; Hobart 1985). (Ben-Amos 1993: 211)

Phraseology for the plurality of phatics.

John Dewey early on pointed out a fact that has become axiomatic in folklore and museums studies, that the context of the fine arts museum interprets ethnographically obtained utensils as art (1958[1934]: 6-9, 26). (Ben-Amos 1993: 212)

Juri Lotman made the exact same observation with regard to context. From Art as Experience, for which I'm still in the waiting list on archive.org - he also wrote a paper titled "Context and Thought" (1931), which sounds interesting (and explicitly refers to Malinowski).

Karl Bühler's formulation for language is aptly applicable to folklore: "the symbolic field of language [...] provides a second class of clues for construction and understanding, one that could be covered by name context; thus, in general terms, the situation and the context are the two sources that in every case contribute to the precise interpretation of utterances" (Bühler 1990[1934]: 169). (Ben-Amos 1993: 212)

Probably the source for Roman Jakobson's distinction between verbal context and nonverbal situation. In his case "the symbolic field of language" qua context is what was said before, what other sayings are referred to, and generally the "textual" aspects of an utterance - it is notable that context is in Jakobson's work most often paired with the subject of ellipsis, i.e. not having to explicate something inherently understood. This is at odds with Malinowski's "context of situation", which to my knowledge does not differentiate the verbal and nonverbal so aptly.

The briefer and the more stable a folklore text is, the higher is its context dependency; and, conversely, the longer and consequently verbally more variable a text is, the lower appears to be its contextual dependency. (Ben-Amos 1993: 213)

I'd argue that a longer text probably has greater contextual dependencies because the "symbolic field" is larger. But then again I think it depends on the text and the aim of interpretation because Malinowski's four pages (PC) have given me thousands of pages of "context" to consider.

Richard Bauman proposes that the field-worker in folklore organize the data around six broad foci: "(a) context of meaning (what does it mean?); (b) institutional context (where does it fit within the culture?); (c) context of communicative system (how does it relate to other kinds of folklore?); (d) social base (what kind of people does it belong to?); (e) individual context (how does it fit into a person's life?); (f) context of situation (how is it useful in social situations?)" (Bauman 1983: 367). (Ben-Amos 1993: 215)

This sounds like an odd subversion of "the outer situation does not enter directly into the technique of speaking" (PC 7.3), as if there is something inherently utilitarian in this crucial concept when PC, a mode of action which stands in relation to the concept of the context of situation only insofar as there is a feeling of "convivial gregariousness" (PC 7.6). This is jumbled. In fact, I think PC 7, at least the first part of the paragraph, is perhaps the most cryptic portion of it.

Malinowski himself drew upon the formulations of linguists and psychologists. Among them was Philipp Wegener, who proposed a theory of situation (Situationstheorie) for language. In his psychologically oriented typology Wegener distinguished three situations in which context provides ways of understanding single word utterances: situations of perception, situations of rememberance, and situations of consciousness (Wegener in Abse 1971: 135-138). (Ben-Amos 1993: 216)

Extremely interesting but inaccessible. Abse, D. Wilfred 1971. Speech and Reason: Language Disorder in Mental Disease and a Translation of the Life of Speech by Philipp Wegener. Chralottesville: University Press of Virginia. Note that these three situations are nearly in accord with the peripatetic triad, Secondness once again being the malformed one: rememberance replaces action/behaviour/intention/conation.

Gardiner, H. N. 1913. Affective phenomena - Descriptive and Theoretical. Psychological Bulletin 10(5): 188-193.

If the somewhat acrimonious dispute between McDougall and Shand, in which Stout plays the part of a mediator, concerned only their personal difference of opinion, it might be dismissed with a brief reference; in point of fact it goes to the root of some fundamental questions and is perhaps the most important item in this year's report. (Gardiner 1913: 166)

Evidently these names were bigger at the time than first appears.

The basis of the discussion is a difference in the conception of instinct. According to McDougall an instinct is an innate affective disposition ("affective" for him includes "conative") of essentially the same nature as all other inner dispositions to feeling and action, its peculiarity consisting in "the innate conjunction of any such affective disposition with one or more cognitive dispositions." The differentia of instinct, then, consists in the existence of certain psychical dispositions with - it is to be assumed - their nervous correlates. Shand, on the other hand, regards it as consisting rather in modes of behavior, namely in complex trains of innately predisposed movements, and also in the simpler and the simplest constituents of such trains. (Gardiner 1913: 166)

So, when Malinowski writes of "Many instincts and innate trends, such as fear or pugnacity, all the types of social sentiments" (PC 3.3), he is apparently attempting to consider both.

The synopsis which Hyslop gives of an article on anger suggests a thorough treatment, but the article itself is rambling. It goes back to the early Egyptians and has much to say about running amok, being evidently inspired in part by the example of Germany in the present war. (Gardiner 1913: 168)

Is Alan H. Gardiner this H. N. Gardiner? The latter wrote many reviews of psychological monographs on emotion for the Psychological Bulletin for three decades.

Gardiner, Alan H. 1919. Some Thoughts on the Subject of Language. Man 19: 2-6.

I must try to express to you my views about a fallacy which I believe to be latent in the outlook of most philologists, namely, that Language is nothing more than a sort of externalised replica of Thought; so that if one could 'analyse' the meaning of all words and 'discover' their 'true' import, one would have a sufficient account of the mind of man. Hermann Paul talks of the psychological analysis of a sentence, and employs the term 'psychological predicate.' Max Müller said, in effect, that Language and Thought are identical. These standpoints seem to me most dangerous, and to ignore and overlook the essential character and purpose of Language, which is to serve as a means of communication between man and man. (Gardiner 1919: 3)

Or, more succinctly: "Language, in its primitive function, to be regarded as a mode of action, rather than as a countersign of thougt." (Malinowski 1923: 296)

Words are intrinsically but meaningless symbols or tokens; to disregard the fact that they are mere instruments, and to treat them as the actual mind of man, susceptible of 'psychological analysis,' is absurd. (Gardiner 1919: 3)

Edgy, and evidently in accordance with Austin's "phatic acts".

AS a provisional definition of Language (in the abstract sense of the word) I submit the following: 'Language is the attempt to influence the mind of a listener by means of articulate audible sounds having an accepted symbolic reference to the facts of experience.' (In this definition I ignore the consequences arising from the fact that a speaker plays a double rôle, that he hears his own words as well as those of others, and that Thought in its most clarified form practically involves a mute conversation with oneself.) (Gardiner 1919: 3)

Autocommunication, self-communication, incommunication; and support for the thesis (presented by Ben-Amos 1993, above, that Gardiner derived much from his reading of Plato).

Now all the variety and complexity of language derives form the fact that the mentalities of speaker and listener at the moments of speech are different. It is this difference that makes language necessary as a means of co-operation. (Gardiner 1919: 3)

Around these parts this is known as Juri Lotman's "model of communication". E.g.: "We have perfect communication, hypothetically, when the phenomenal worlds of speaker and hearer are identical, including identical representations of the medium. This, of course, never happens. We can have adequate communication when the message has to do with relatively sequestered concerns." (MacLeod 1974: 69) - Depicted visually:

The necessity for language arises only there where mutual orientation is indispensable. This seems to hold good pretty generally: even the [|] writer of novels aims at putting his readers into his own frame of mind with regard to the matter, emotional or presentational, of his discourse; even the diary-writer conceives of the future self for whom he writes as of a being who will to some degree have lost touch with his present, experient self. (Gardiner 1919: 3-4)

More on autocommunication in conjunction with phenomenal difference. Diary is a common example in such cases, and the general outlook is tantamount to Peirce's self-communication ("that future self" is necessarily different form the present self).

The absurdity of leaving out the listener is obvious, and becomes more so when we reflect that in language generally it is the relation of the listener to the speaker at the moment of speech which gives the differentiating form to the sentence employed: when I desire an answer I ask a question; when I demand an action by way of reply, I use an imperative; when I deny, I assume my interlocutor to have affirmed; when I voice a wish I appeal for sympathy. (Gardiner 1919: 4)

This was written after he heard a lecture by Bühler. At the moment, the important thing is that the relation between the communicants is the basis for the "atmosphere", the modus operandi of PC. On the second instance it may be noted that PC in general is an appeal for sympathy, achieved through speech alone, hence "phatic" (removing the "sym-").

Suppose the listener to be in close sympathy with the speaker, the words 'The lion,' or 'He roars,' will often suffice. In presence of the beast itself an interchange of glances between the hunters will be enough, or indeed even less than this. (Gardiner 1919: 6)

An unemotional kind of sympathy! This brings us back to the context of situation, which is what is meant here: both the speaker and listener have access to the same "immediate environmental perception" or whatever that neat phrase was (can't find it), and thus can use ellipsis to refer to the object.

It seems clear, then, that speech is a much more complicated thing than mere thought. Besides the content of the statement, command, question, wish, negation, maxim, epigram, or curse that is expressed, there is always involved an unexpressed relation to a listener, which, by a curious paradox, is in practice the decisive factor in determining what words are actually used and the order in which they are arranged. Nor must it be forgotten that Language is used for concealing or distorting thought (as in lying and boasting) hardly less than for revealing it. (Gardiner 1919: 6)

Metacommunication, or the mu-function. This early! Note that "boasting" relates to "vanity", and a neat case for analysis, though wholly unnecessary, is one natives' account of how he goes to Tuma to eat.

Lutkehaus, Nancy Christine 1989. The Use of Another Ethnographer's Field-Notes: Camille Wedgwood's Manam Island Research. Anthropology Today 5(6): 9-12.

Wedgwood bemoaned that Deacon did not include detail about everyday life, which, Wedgwood implies, Deacon certainly would have conveyed had he himself written up his field materials. This point raises a more general question about what material an ethnographer includes in his or her notes. The heart of the problem lies with the often unconscious assumptions we make about what is important or relevant to record. (Lutkehaus 1989: 9)

Imponderabilia. Reading Argonauts did yield a valuable crop of notes that can be supplemented to PC, though it is clear that Malinowski did not consider such things very important and made such remarks "in passing". The relevant question now is whether more of such notes can be found in his later monographs and papers, and if my current crop is sufficient for present purposes. (Or should I go on reading for ever without corresponding my discoveries to others in publication?)

My initial reading of Wedgwood's letters to her friends, mentors and family, and her journals from the field, also captivated my attention, less for their data about Manam society and culture than for what they could tell me about Wedgwood herself. This feeling was motivated by more than simply curiousity. Like Wedgwood I was a woman and like her I was going into the field alone. Because of the nature of her experience, I easily identified with her. Since she was no longer alive and not able to answer directly my questions about what field-work on Manam had been like, I tried to read between the lines. I found myself searching for clues in her notes and letters as to what an experience similar to hers might hold in store for me. (Lutkehaus 1989: 10)

Likewise with Malinowski, with whom many have become obsessed. It is easy enough to read "psychological symptoms" from between the lines but it is probably not very wise to do so (that is what his biography, Young 2004, is for)

Establishment of rapport with strangers is one of the major challenges an anthropologist faces on first intrance into the field. (Lutkehaus 1989: 10)

Exactly why PC is actually inherently important for anthropological fieldworkers. Though it remains a subject of discussion how much of PC is actually conditioned by Malinowski's own field experience, and how much is just theory for the sake of theory, a synthesis of Mahaffy and Barton.

Reading Wedgwood's notes for the second time was an entirely different experience, for I now read the notes with the interest and knowledge of an 'insider'. The people and activities she described were now 'local history' for me, a chronicle of past events, some of which I had heard about in other contexts, others of which illuminated present events. They filled in gaps in my understanding of the reason why certain things happened or were done in a particular way. (Lutkehaus 1989: 11)

Likewise, I think that anyone looking for a better understanding of phatic communion should read Malinowski's other publications from the era. It is one thing to notice the word "gossip" in the text and think it something to do with rumour and casual conversation but another to grasp it in the context of the ethnographer's lived experience, his attitude towards it, and various situational variables that give it a much deeper meaning.

Goldsmith, Michael 1988. Malinowski and Gardiner: The Egyptian Connection. History of Anthropology Newsletter 15(1): 5-11.

How Malinowski and Gardiner met is not clear, although Gardiner's friendship with [Grafton Elliot] Smith may provide a link to the prewar British anthropological community which Malinowski himself had entered in 1910. Given that Malinowski was later to conduct a highly polemical debate with Smith and his diffusionist disciple William Perry, who argued an Egyptian origin for all cultures, this seems a paradoxical connection. (Goldsmith 1988: 5)

If Malinowski entered in 1910 it is highly dubious whether he had been working with Ogden and Richards as early as 1906. The timeline should be revisited.

Whatever personal empathy and social solidarity lay behind their intellectual relationship, they seem to have found common ground in bemoaning the state of linguistics, and in attempts to rectify matters. Each was to make a respected, though non-canonical, contribution to the field. Malinowski's reputation derived from his dictum that meaning must be sought in the "context-of-situation" (1923), an insight that links him directly to the later work of J. R. Firth. While this view has attracted the attention of many philosophers and anthropologists, it is not central to the development of semantic theory as recognized by most contemporary linguists. (GGardiner; inoldsmith 1988: 6)

Empathy and solidarity matched with personal and social makes sense. The non-canonical but ever-present nature of PC in linguistic theory is a difficult thing to ascertain because, in my view, even semantic theorists (e.g. Hayakawa) consider it relevant.

Now of course the modern field-worker has an immense pull over the critic of ancient texts in the fact that if he is not sure that he has interpreted a statement correctly he can cross-question the speaker. He thus obtains what are in effect glosses (scholia) [or possibly skolia]. But none of the less one feels that one would have liked to have the ipsissima verba of the original statement in all its obscurity and vagueness, since that is the way that people think, and precisely the glosses and skolia [sic] are not really the meaning of the original statement, but an improvement upon it called forth by the fact that the questioner is (if you will pardon me saying so) unusually importunate and troublesome. (Gardiner 1918; in Goldsmith 1988: 8)

I am very attracted to the mental image of a paper in which the numbered sentences of PC serve as headings, with all their "obscurity and vagueness" on full display, but I grow more suspicious that this would not be the preferable course for a well-written paper. Gardiner here yet again offers an interesting latinism (like a potiori and pari passu), though I'm not sure if it'd be good manners to use these in modern scholarship.

Would it not be true to say that a man's real beliefs, his stock-in-trade, so to speak, are the things he can be induced to say without thinking - his linguistic reflex [|] movements. (Gardiner 1918; in Goldsmith 1988: 8)

Foor for thinking about relating PC to the "default-mode network". This is probably the beginning of Gardiner's treatment of PC as something mechanical or automatic. On Malinowski's side it's related to the topic of leading questions (cf. the latter portions of "Baloma").

As a philogist [sic], I am supremely dissatisfied with the whole position of semantics. (Gardiner 1918; in Goldsmith 1988: 10)


Nerlich, Brigitte 1988. Philipp Wegener's (1848-1916) Theory of Language and Communication. Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas Bulletin 11(1): 11-13.

For a decade historians of linguistics have been re-reading Wegener's Untersuchungen Über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens (1885), a book which had a rather marginal status compared to other main-stream books on historical-comparative linguistics. However, it was admired by the English school of linguistics, by Gardiner, Malinowski and Firth. (Nerlich 1988: 11)

I have yet to see an instance of evidence that Malinowski "admired" this Wegener fellow.

Wegener's theory of language acquisition is remarkable. It contains in nuce all the elements of his theory of language use, language understanding and language change, giving a theoretical unity to his theory of the life of language, a life that has three dimensions: language-birth in the child, language-life in the adult's use of language, and language-growth in time. In none of these dimensions are the speakers and hearers absent as active agents. (Nerlich 1988: 11)

The child, the adult, and language itself. While Malinowski and Jakobson deal primarily with the first two, Jespersen - with his bold approach to language "origin" - by and by with the third.

Words do not express a substance, nor are words mere containers of sound; they are instruments of communicative interaction. They are in fact summonses (imperatives) to the hearer to remember the situation in which they were spoken before. They do not so much carry meaning as make the hearer retrieve already known information associated with the sound. A series of such reminders in a sentence, an instruction, to construct meaning. This instruction is at first carried out laboriously, then executed automatically. (Nerlich 1988: 12)

In broad outlines this is the Lotmanian view of "meaning-making". In specifics it's the stuff of cognitive "presentation".

It is not difficult to account for semantic change in Wegener's theory, because words do not carry meaning, they are invested with meaning according to the totality of the context. They only have meaning insofar as they are interpreted as meaningful. In the evolution of langugae 'pragmatics' has the primacy over semantics and syntax. Meaning and grammar emerge from communication as situated action. (Nerlich 1988: 13)

Interesting suggestions. The word "situated" particularly catches my attention, as "communion" sounds like it is "communally" situated.

Urry, James 1985. W. E. Armstrong and Social Anthropology at Cambridge 1922-1926. Man 20(3): 412-433.

After Rivers's sudden death in June 1922, Armstrong's name was put forward to give instruction in social anthropology, and he was offered and accepted the post. It was stressed that the new post was temporary, as Rivers had no official position in anthropology and had given his lectures gratuitously. The following year, however, the post was renewed and Armstrong was asked also to take over Haddon's lectures on the Religion of Backward Peoples. (Urry 1985: 414)

With variying degrees of racism, this is by far the most negative extreme of "primitive".

British anthropology in 1900 still covered a broad range of topics, physical anthropology, ethnology, folklore, material culture and archaeology, with little specialisation and with most explanations couched in evolutionary terms. (Urry 1985: 415)

Phraseology: Malinowski's psychological theory was notably lacking, hence he couched the psychological explanations in rather outdated ethnographic theories (McDougall and Shands).

Table 2. The 'mature' list of lectures given by Armstrong sometime after 1923 and before 1926.
I - Definitions. Psychological Basis.
II - The Instincts of Man.
III - Suggestions, Sympathy, Imitation.
IV - Association, Habit. The Sentiments, Group Sentiments.
V - Earliest Groupings a priori.
VI - Original Groupings (cont.) Evolutionary Theory.
VII - Kinship and Family.
VIII - Possible origin of clan. Genealogical method.
IX - Tribe. Rivers' Theory of Group Marriage.
X - Marriage.
XI - Marriage (cont.)
XIII - (Marriage Classes and Section Systems)
XIV - Totemism.
XV - Totemism (2).
XVI - Totemism (3).
XVII - Property.
XIX - Succession. Chiefs.
XX - The Men's House. Age Grades.
XXI - Puberty, Voluntary Groupings.
XXII - Fraternities and Secret Societies.
XXIII - Origin of Secret Societies.
XXIV - Migrations in Melanesia.
XXV - Contact. Interaction. Heliolithic Culture.
XXVI - Heliolithic Culture (cont.)
(Urry 1985: 416)

Highlighted the topics I'm interested, i.e. associated with PC.

In this early draft Armstrong wrestled with the problem of the word 'primitive' and whether it allows him to separate the study of 'primitive' institutions from those of 'civilized peoples'. In his mature lectures he appears to overcome this difficulty by talking instead of 'simple' and 'complex' societies. The study of simple societies allowed anthropologists to make generalisations concerning the nature of all social groupings. (Urry 1985: 417)

Phraseology for "savage and civilized alike".

Armstrong assumed that there was little difference between 'savage' and 'civilised' man in the relative strength of innate 'psycho-physical' dispositions since all people possessed the same instincts. But the 'mature psychological dispositions' varied enormously in different societies and 'had to be explained in terms of difference of environment, and of this environment the only important element is the social'. (Urry 1985: 419)

Very much the same view held by Malinowski in PC (e.g. innate trends vs national character).

After outlining the innate instincts and their basis in neurology, Armstrong discussed the 'pseudo-instincts' of suggestion, sympathy and imitation which:
correspond to the three aspects of the mind, the cognitive, affective, and conative, and are purely social in the sense that they depend entirely on relations with other persons. Suggestion is the induction of similar ideas in other persons, Sympathy the induction of similar emotions, and Imitation the induction of similar movements (APNLA 1(2)L3: 1-2)
These distinctions, being social, are learned and liable to further modification in accordance with psychological laws. In terms of cognition the law of association operates, imitation is influenced by habit acting on motor action and they are both developed in the process of socialisation. Sympathy and the emotions are developed in complexes of sentiments; this is by far the most important element in the formation of the individual in a social environment element in the formation of the individual in a social environment, and the area in which there is most cultural variation. (Urry 1985: 419)

Wow, this is astonishingly good and might spare me reading McDougall and Shands at the moment for elaborating upon the peripatetic triad.

Like Armstrong, Malinowski was extremely interested in the connexion between psychology and anthropology. McDougall's (1908) Introduction to social psychology was one of the three books suggested for his course and he recommended Shand's (1914) work on sentiments to his students (the other texts were Rivers 1924 and Lowie 1920, see also Firth 1957: 7; 1981: 125). But Malinowski's attitude altered during the late 1920's and early 1930's. His initial enthusiasm for McDougall and Shand declined as his interest in psychoanalysis increased, but this too waned, to be replaced during the 1930's by a more general concern with behaviouralism (Fortes 1957: 161). (Urry 1985: 425)

Things to consider before embarking on a continuation of this journey. I may have to read Shands (at least) now, but psychoanalysis and behaviorism are as of yet beyond my grasp.

Wright, William Kelley 1921. McDougall's Social Psychology in the Light of Recent Discussion. The Journal of Philosophy 18(6): 141-152.

The conceptions of the Social Psychology have three nodal points: the doctrines of (1) instincts; (2) sentiments; (3) the development of character and volition. To lose sight of any one of them is to miss much of the value and significance of the book. Among other interesting and original features which, however, do not seem to me basic to the system as a whole, are various details in the interpretation of the sympathy, suggestion and imitation as "general innate tendencies" to feel, think, and act as one perceives others doing; [...] (Wright 1921: 142)

These keywords are starting to ring all too distinctly, but to my mind they still appear to muddle, to some degree, the peripatetic triad (feeling, acting, thinking).

The principal primary instincts are "the mental forces that maintain and shape all the life of individuals and societies"; from their operation arise sentiments, character, volition, and associated life. An author who attaches such a function to instincts is not thinking of sensation reflexes; he must have in mind such processes as fear, anger, sex, parental care, gregariousness, acquisitiveness and self-assertion; in short, the motives to which writers on moral and social evolution usually attribute the origin and growth of law, justice, religion, property, the family, the state and other institutions, when they choose to regard them psychologically. (Wright 1921: 143)

When put into relief with Malinowski's terminology in PC (which match as long as self-assertion is taken in the sense of self-enhancement in vanity), it is interesting to note that while anger may be present in "antipathies", sex, parental care and acquisitiveness are not included, which perhaps says something about the social milieu of the natives among whom Malinowski may have formulated PC (if not in wording, which is borrowed from sources detailed in recent post, at least in its ideational germ).

Working on this basis, the list of principal primary instincts and emotions is as follows:
Food seeking
This list has been variously criticized. (Wright 1921: 144)

Confirmation that self-assertion is related to self-display. Food seeking highlighted for the communion of food. Though at the end of the day these connections can only be verified by reading McDougall's books.

Professor Woodworth says that the system of Professor McDougall does not make sufficient space for the good will, comradeship and cooperation of equals. Self-assertion and subjection are concerned chiefly with superiors and inferiors. The gregarious instinct is treated merely as an impulse to herd. Passive and active sympathy are not sufficient. So, though I once endeavored to meet this difficulty in an analysis of punitive justice by widening the scope of the gregarious instinct, it now seems to me that Professor Graham Wallas handles the matter better by positing another instinct, which he calls "love"; but as we need this term for the sentiment, this had better be called, I think, the "social instinct." (Wright 1921: 148)

Makes me wonder PC is so frail in these aspects because of Malinowski's lack of "parity" with the natives. This "impulse to herd" is explicitly criticized by Malinowksi in the footnote to PC. And "social instinct" was not new by that time; Herbert Spencer wrote about "the instinct of sociality" by 1876.

A sentiment, for Professor McDougall, is the organization of instincts and emotions about the idea of some object. The most important varieties of sentiments are those of love, hate, and respect. Sentiments are classified according to the character of their objects as concrete particular (e.g., love for a particular child), concrete general (e.g., love for children) and abstract (love for justice, virtue, science). (Wright 1921: 148)

Note that Malinowski's "ambition, vanity, passion for power and wealth" are abstract sentiments in this sense but he himself calls them "social sentiments".

Furthermore, there is less uniformity in the sentiments of individuals than in their instincts. The latter are innate, and common to the entire human race. An Oriental has the same instincts as an Occidental; his sentiments must be very different. To hold a group together, in patriotism, religious devotion, enthusiasm for a cause, or what not, they must be [|] taught common sentiments. The whole psychology of religion might be regarded as the implanting and development of a sentiment, as I have shown elsewhere. To hold a newly constituted state together, a national sentiment must spring up and acquire strength. The essential condition for a successful League of Nations would be the constitution of an international sentiment strong enough to bind the peoples of the associated nations together in a common loyalty. (Wright 1921: 149-150)

At last, the crucial crux of "establishing common sentiments".

Taken all in all, the Introduction to Social Psychology remains, after the twelve years since its first appearance, the foundation for a psychological interpretation of human social life. (Wright 1921: 152)

These ideas are also retained as the psychological foundation of Malinowski's interpretation of human social life, and aversion to them - even by Malinowski himself later on, apparently - remains a major reason for the poor receiving of Phatic Communion throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

Early Malinowski

Malinowski, Bronisław 1911a. Review of Kwartalink Etnografioncy Lud. Tom. XVI., zesryt I. Lwów, 1910. Folklore 22(3): 382-385.

Much material has already been collected in Poland, although comparatively little has yet been done for its systematic investigation, and some of the older collections need to be revised, and probably also brought up to date on many points and controlled by a series of new and first-hand observations, while there still time to record customs and beliefs which are rapidly vanishing. (Malinowski 1911a: 383)

The impetus to fieldwork is the rapid vanishing of exotic customs and beliefs. This has been noted by some of his critics in the 1970s and 80s: he was constantly waxing poetic about how it used to be before "nowadays".

Malinowski, Bronisław 1911b. Review of La Race Slave by Lubar Niedrle and Louis Léger. Paris: F. Alcan, 1911. Man 11: 64.

Of special interest will be undoubtedly the part devoted to internal differences which obtain amongst some of the apparently homogeneous groups such as the Russians. There are many things concerning this point that come to the knowledge of Western Europeans in more or less official form and therefore distorted and falsified. In addition also the stress of national feeling in the case of each individual nation is so strong that it is difficult to trust any casual information obtained from any one of the interested parties about another. M. Niederle's book is written with a thorough knowledge of all the nationalities he describes and in an impartial spirit. (Malinowski 1911b: 64)

The trope of "national character" is a methodological issue as well - the national feeling of the "observer" can put partial stress to the national characteristics of those "observed".

Malinowski, Bronisław 1912. Review of Grundlinien einer Vergleichung der Religionen und Mythologien der Austronesischen Völker by Von. P. W. Schmidt. In Denkschriften d. K. Akademie d. Wissenschaften in Wien, 1910. Folklore 23(1): 141-143.

It is worth emphasising that the results of this pioneer study and extensive comparison are only loosely linked with the theoretical views of the author, which are often open to dispute. (Malinowski 1912: 142)

Oh the irony. This is the exact criticism raised against himself by the aforementioned critics. They may actually have gotten inspired by Malinowsi's criticism here.

Malinowski, Bronisław 1913c. Review of Across Australia by Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen. 2 vols. Macmillan, 1912. Folklore 24(2): 278-279.

The home ethnologist can never know too much about the manner in which the facts he is using in his theories were obtained. Moreover, the easy colloquial way of treating the subject allows some glimpses into the homely facts of native life, and brings us into intimate touch with it, a thing almost impossible in a systematic and rigidly scientific work, such as the former volume of these writers. (Malinowski 1913c: 279)

A description that could well suit his own narrative style of writing in Argonauts and elsewhere. Arguably the "easy colloquial way" of these books is what made them accessible to non-anthropologists and even laymen.

Malinowski, Bronisław 1916. Baloma; The Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 46: 353-430.

They centre around the dead man's body, and are closely connected with the duties of mourning, wailing and sorrowing for the dead individuals. But - and this is the important point for the present description - these social activities and ceremonies have no connection with the spirit. They are not performed, either to send a message of love and regret to the baloma (spirit), or to deter him from returning; they do not influence his welfare, nor do they affect his relation to the survivors. (Malinowski 1916: 354)

So mourning (and the accompanying "expressions of sympathy") is the next "futile" (sensu Dorothy Lee) item after the economic activity of gardening? Is he treating here the futility of magic?

I remember well the first time I heard the kosi mentioned. It was a dark night, and I, in the company of three natives, was returning from a neighbouring village, where a man had died that afternoon and been buried in our presence. We are marching in Indian file, when suddenly one of the natives stopped, and they all began to talk, looking around with evident curiosity and interest, but without a trace of terror. My interpreter explained that the kosi was heard in the yam garden which we were just crossing. I was strick by the frivolous way in which the natives treated this gruesome incident, and tried to make out how far they were serious about the alleged appearance, and in what manner they reacted to it emotionally. (Malinowski 1916: 355)

"And it must be emphasised whenever anything dramatic or important occurs it is essential to investigate it at the very moment of happening, because the natives cannot but talk about it, are too excited to be reticent, and too interested to be mentally lazy in supplying details." (Malinowski 1922: 8)

A large party of men, with To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana, went to Tuma. They landed not far from the Modawosi stone, when they saw a man standing there. They immediately identified him as Gi'iopeulo, a great warrior and a man of indomitable strength and courage, who had died recently in a village not more than five minutes distance from Omarakana. When they approached, he disappeared, but they heard distinctly "Bu kusisusi bala" ("You remain, I shall go") - the usual form of "Good-bye." (Malinowski 1916: 363)

An actual set phrase from the natives, something missing from PC (the Shakespearean expression I do not consider "native").

He used to boast that he could go to Tuma in order to eat. "I want to eat now; I shall go to Tuma; there is plenty of food there: ripe bananas, yams and taro, ready to eat; fish and pigs; there is plenty of areca nut and betel pepper, too; all the time I go to Tuma I eat." It may be easily imagined how strongly these pictures [|] would appeal to the natives' fancy, how they would enhance the personal prestige of the boaster and arouse the envy of the more ambitious. Boasting about food is the most prevalent form of native vanity or ambition. A commoner might pay with his life if he had too much food or too good a garden, and especially if he displayed it too boastfully. (Malinowski 1916: 364-365)

A catch of PC tropes, most importantly enhancing personal prestige, which mirrors "social pleasure and self-enhancement". Thus, ambition and vanity are directly related to social pleasure derived from social talk and the communion (or privation) of food looms in the background.

Days and weeks are spent in cleaning the tubers and piling them artistically into heaps, so that the geometrical form may be perfect and none but the very best tubers be visible on the surface. The work is done by the owner and his wife, if he has one, but parties from the village walk about the garden, paying each other visits and admiring the yams. Comparisons and parising are the main theme of conversation. (Malinowski 1916: 372)

Yams (taitu) and their houses are apparently a major topic of conversation.

The karibom, as it is called, gives the small children the opportunity to play, hopping about the across the slowly moving chain of grown-ups; it allows the old people and the women actively to enjoy, at least, a kind of imitation of dancing; it is also the proper time for amorous advance among the young people. (Malinowski 1916: 374)

Festivities very similar to those in Europe.

Towards the end of the milamala, visits are received almost daily from quite distant villages. Such visits in olden days had a very compound character. They [|] were undoubtedly friendly, and were intended to be so, but there was always danger lurking behind the official friendliness. The visiting parties were always armed, and it was on such occasions that the whole array of "ceremonial" arms came into display. Indeed, even now the carrying of arms is not entirely suppressed, though at present they are nothing more than articles of decoration and display, owing to the white man's influence. (Malinowski 1916: 374-375)

Familiar enough from Argonauts.

All the large wooden sword-clubs, some of which are beautifully carved in heavy hardwood; the carved walking-sticks and short, ornamental spears, all so well known from the New Guinea collections in the museum, belong to this class of weapon. They serve equally the purpose of vanity and of business. Vanity, display of wealth, of valuable, finely ornamented objects, is one of the ruling passions of the Kiriwinian. To "swagger" with a large wooden sword, murderous looking, yet nicely carved and painted white and red, is an essential element of the fun to a Kiriwian youth in festive paint, with a white nose sticking out of a completely blackened face, or one "black eye," or some rather complex curves running all across his face. (Malinowski 1916: 375)

Finally something for anchoring "wealth".

This display takes place during the last three days of the full moon, the articles being put up in the morning and removed at night. The proper thing, when visiting a village during the ioiova, is to look at the things, even handle them, ask their names (every individual piece of vaigu'a has a proper name), and, of course, express great admiration. (Malinowski 1916: 377)

The conclusion is of course "vanity" but the general picture is not that different from Blano's illustration of family pictures shown and discussed in the entry to the house.

Nowadays, people will go to their gardens and ptter about, or go on preparing wood for house building or canoe making, and the spirits do not like it. Therefore their anger, which results in rain and storm, spoils the milamala. This was the case at Olivilevi, and later on at Omarakana. At Omarakana there was still another cause for their anger, connected with the ethnographer's presence in that place, and I had to hear several times reproachful allusions and remarks from the elders and from To'uluwa, the chief, himself. (Malinowski 1916: 380)

Ethnographer, the stranger.

The boys from six to twelve years of age sounded the beat, and then the smaller ones began to address the spirits in the words I had been previously given by my informants. They spoke with the same characteristic mixture of arrogance and shyness, with which they used to approach me, begging for tobacco, or making some facetious remark, in fact, with the typical demeanour of boys in the street, who perform some nuisance sanctioned by custom, like the proceedings on Guy Fawkes' day or similar occasions. (Malinowski 1916: 382)

The jocular tone! Note the man-in-the-street here given as beys-in-the-street ("uneducated classes").

And to this (as to all leading questions which contain an untrue or doubtful statement) the natives always answer in the negative, or else they consider your view as a new one, and throwing some light on the problem, but such consideration and acquiescence is at once distinguishable from a direct endorsement of a statement. There was never the slightest difficulty in deciding whether an opinion obtained was a customary, well established, orthodox native view, or whether it was an idea new to the native mind. (Malinowski 1916: 383)

More verbal kindling for why PC is not a native concept and wholly "outside looking in", despite his own statements to the effect that we must keep the native point of view, particularly feelings and ideas, in mind when studying their customs.

The informant must know that you want from him exact and detailed statements of fact. A good informant, after a few days, will contradict and correct you even if you make a lapsus linguae, and to think of any danger from leading questions in such a case is absolutely groundless. Again, real ethnographical work moves much more in statement of actual details, details which, as a rule, can be checked by observation - where again there is in no case any danger from leading questions. (Malinowski 1916: 383ff)

Factual statements about the true state of the universe, only, no gossip or obvious observations. How PC originated from the research-goals of the ethnographer, and not from the field itself. Could it be that like much else in Malinowski's work, it's a case of others interpreting and theoretical what was for himself perhaps methodological?

Ethnological enquiry and judicial examination are essentially different, in that in the latter the witness has usually to express his personal, individual opinion, or to relate his impressions, both of which can be easily modified by suggestion: whereas in ethnological enquiry the informant is expected to give such eminently crystallized and solidified items of knowledge as an outline of certain customary activities, or a belief or a stetement of traditional opinion. (Malinowski 1916: 383ff)

"Ideas, if attainable at all, are the result of long and toilsome search on the part of philosophers." (Gardiner 1932: 44)

By the time a man is out of the radius of one village, he hears the music from the next. There is nothing of any oppressive atmosphere of ghosts, of any haunting presence, quite the reverse. The mood of the natives is gay and rather frivolous, the atmosphere in which they live pleasant and bright. (Malinowski 1916: 384)

Solidifying the notion that the pleasant "social" atmosphere of PC is directly opposed to the strange and unpleasant tension felt in the presence of a stranger who might harbour evil magic.

Again, it is to be noted that, though there is a certain amount of communion between the living and the spirits by dreams, etc., the latter are never supposed to influence in any serious way the course of tribal affairs. No trace of divination, taking counsel with the spirits, or any other form of customary communion in matters of any importance, is to be detected. (Malinowski 1916: 384)

Communion is used here in the dictionary definition sense of "the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level." In light of this, "phatic" communion is a communion consisting only of linguistic exchange without any exchange of thoughts and feelings. The "apophatic" definition really negates spiritualism by setting the exchange of thoughts and feelings aside.

Again, except in the cases of people recently dead, there is little personal feeling about the spirits. (Malinowski 1916: 384)

Perhaps why the sincerity of expressions of sympathy looking for pity is not to be trusted.

Or else the imaginary spectator would walk through a Kiriwinian new garden field, with its soil freshly moved and cleared [...] (Malinowski 1916: 387)

The question is still open: how much of my material should I put into the perspective of an imaginary spectator looking at Malinowski interacting with the natives, reading from his books, and coming to one or another conclusion though these routes?

The backbone of Kiriwinian magic is formed by its spells. It is in the spell that the main virtue of all magic resides. The rite is there only to launch the spell, to serve as an appropriate mechanism of transmission. (Malinowski 1916: 388)

Phraseology for the "transmission of thoughts".

It is in the formulæ, therefore, that the clue to the ideas concerning magic is to be found. (Malinowski 1916: 388)

Evidently not the approach he took with formulae of greeting or approach, though one George Barton did take.

But it was clear that to all my informants the fact of women being tolipoula was so natural that it had never occurred to them to question it previously. (Malinowski 1916: 397)

Question to be asked of PC: Was it so natural to Westerners that they never thought to question it before Malinowski went to New Guinea? The earlier conversation manuals prove this to be untrue, even with regards to modern phatic tropes (e.g. "maintaining" a conversation, which appears as early as 1836, cf. Anthony Bolmar's A Collection of Colloquial Phrases).

Again, Tudava used to walk on the road leading from the beach to the village, and there are some traditional spots connected with his doings on that road. The "traditional presence," if such an expression may be coined, of the hero is felt in all the fishing places. The whole neighbourhood is also enveloped in taboos, which are especially stringent when the fishing is going on. (Malinowski 1916: 397)

Genius loci.

In several cases the man was too old or too stupid to help in the, from the native point of view, extremely difficult and puzzling task of translating the archaic and condensed formula, and of commenting upon all its obscurities. (Malinowski 1916: 399)

Phraseology. In extenso theorizing.

It would be no good asking the natives "What would happen if you omitted to invoke the baloma?" (a type of question which sometimes reveals the ideas of the native as to the sanction or reason for a certain practice), becaus a magic formula is an inviolable, integral item of tradition. It must be known thoroughly and repeated exactly as it was learnt. A spell or magical practice, if tampered with in any detail, would entirely lose its efficacy. (Malinowski 1916: 401)

The cultural value of a linguistic formula. Replace efficacy with expedience.

Their rôle is purely passive. And out of this passivity they can be roused only by being put into bad humour, when they begin to show their existence in a negative manner, so to speak. (Malinowski 1916: 402)

By way of analogy, the passive role of the listener in PC is upset by antipathies. Otherwise the mechanical nature of the conversation can proceed ad nauseam; at one point the listener simply tires of the passing role. Link with literature on good or active listening.

We left the baloma settled to his new life in the nether world, more or less comforted concerning those left behind; having, very likely, married again and formed new ties and connections. (Malinowski 1916: 402)

So, "[connections] of union" (PC 6.1) and "a [connection] of some social sentiment or other" (PC 7.8).

These tenets form the main stratum of what can be termed popular or universal belief. If you question any man, woman, or even an intelligent child, you will obtain from him or her this information. But any further details are much less universally known; one obtains a fact here and a detail there, and some of them contradict the others, and none of them seem to loom particularly clear in the native mind, though here and there it is obvious that some of these beliefs influence behaviour, and are connected with some customs. (Malinowski 1916: 403)

He is talking about "the belief in reincarnation [spirit children], and the ignorance of the physiological causes of pregnancy" (ibid, 403). Is PC such "information"? Could you arrive at it by questioning any man, woman, or intelligent child? Because as it stands the literature, at least, is full of contradictory opinions.

It is characteristic that any inconsistency is noted in a view which is not the informant's own standpoint, while similar contradictions are most blandly overlooked in his own theories. The natives are, remarkably enough, not a whit more consistent on this point or intellectually donest than civilized people. (Malinowski 1916: 405)

Why is this remarkable? How many cultures contain the old saying about seeing the faults of your neighbour more clearly than your own?

For a time, the contradictions and obscurities in the information appeared to me quite hopeless; it was in one of the desperate blind alleys, so often encountered in ethnographic field work, when one comes to suspect that the natives are untrustworthy, that they tell tales on purpose; or that one has to do with two sets of information, one of them distorted by white man's influence. (Malinowski 1916: 411)

I am the serious ethnographer's paranoia of insincerity.

That this is so is proved, beyond any doubt, to my informants by the case of Tilapo'i, a woman living in Kabululo, a village close to Omarakana. She is half blind, almost an idiot, and so plain that no one would think of approaching her sexually. In fact, she is the favourite theme of a certain class of jokes all turning on the assumption of someone having had connection with her: jokes which are always relished and repeated, so that "Kuoi Tilapo'i!" ("Have connection with Tilapo'i") has become a form of jocular abuse. In spite, however, of the fact that it is supposed that she never had connection, she once gave birth to child, which died subsequently. (Malinowski 1916: 412)

It is subtly illuminating that an example of jocular abuse comes after an indication of paranoia.

"The connection between cohabitation and conception seems to be knonwn among the Mailu, but to direct inquiries as to the cause of pregnancy I did not obtain emphatic and positive answers." [...] Neither of these statements is very emphatic, and in fact they do not seem to imply a complete ignorance of physical fatherhood. (Malinowski 1916: 414)

If emphatic statements are positive and definite answers to questions, what about "phatic"? It's beginning to look like "phatic" negates both emphatic insistence of a thought and sympathetic sharing of a feeling.

The general character of the Kiriwinian mental attitude certainly would answer this question with an emphatic negation. (Malinowski 1916: 416)

Thus, "phatically meandering", non-commital, not taking a stance.

In the ignorance of physiological fatherhood we do not deal with a positive state of mind, with a dogma leading to practices, rites, or customs, but merely with a negative item, the absence of knowledge. Such an absence could not possibly be brought about by a positive belief. Any widespread gap in knowledge, any universal absence of information, any general imperfection in observation found among native races, must, pending contrary evidence, be considered as primitive. (Malinowski 1916: 417)

The absence of exact meaning.

Summing up all these considerations, we may say that all beliefs as implied in native customs and traditions must be treated as invariably fixed items. They are believed and acted upon by all, and, as customary actions do not allow of any individual varieties, this class of belief is standardized by its social embodiments. They may be called the dogmas of native belief, or the social ideas of a community, as opposed to individual ideas. One important addition has to be made, however, to complete this statement: only such items of belief can be considered as "social ideas" as are not only embodied in native institutions, but are also explicitly formulated by the natives and acknowledged to exist therein. (Malinowski 1916: 423)

You can just hear the creeping footsteps of "collective consciousness" behind this.

I am purposely not using the term "collective ideas," introduced by Professor Durkheim and his school, to denote a conception, which in their hands, more especially in the writings of Hubert and Mauss, has proved extremely fertile. In the first place, I am not able to judge whether the above analysis would really cover what that school denotes by "collective ideas." Remarkably enough, there does not seem to be anywhere a clear, condid statement of what they mean by "collective idea," nothing approaching a definition. It is obviosu that in this discussion, and in general, I am under a great obligation to these writers. But I am afraid that I am entirely out of touch with Professor Durkheim's philosophical basis of sociology. It seems to me that this philosophy involves the metaphysical postulate of a "collective soul," which, for me, is untenable. Moreover, whatever discussion might be carried on as to the theoretical value of the conception of a "collective soul," in all practical sociological investigations one would be left hopelessly in the lurch by it. In the field, when studying a native or civilized community, one has to do with the whole aggregate of individual souls, and the methods and theoretical conceptions have to be framed exclusively with this multiplex material in view. The postulate of a collective consciousness is barren and absolutely useless for an ethnographical observer. (Malinowski 1916: 423ff)

"I don't understand it, hence it is useless."

This allows us to formulate a definition of a "social idea": It is a tenet of belief embodied in institutions or traditional texts, and formulated by the unanimous opinion of all competent informants. The word "competent" simply excludes small children and hopelessly unintelligent individuals. Such social ideas can be treated as the "invariants" of native belief. (Malinowski 1916: 424)

Is PC a "social idea"? Can we find it manifested in literature before Malinowski? In Mahaffy and earlier conversation manuals, yes, apparently. In any case it has become a social idea due to Malinowski's influence, so that random journalists write things that could just as well be torn directly out of Malinowski's essay.

Again, watching the behaviour of the performers and spectators in a magical ceremony, certain small facts characterizing the general "tone" of the natives' attitude are to be found. (Malinowski 1916: 424)

"The above data concerning this aspect of native belief, insufficient as they are, show clearl that with more experience in method a systematic inquiry could be carried out into the emotional side of belief on lines as strict as ethnological observations admit." (ibid, 424)

Behaviour, referring to the emotional aspect of belief, can be described by showing its type, because the variations move within certain well-described limits, the emotional and instinctive nature of man being, as far as one can judge, very uniform, and the individual variations remaining practically the same in any human society. (Malinowski 1916: 425)

The uniformity of instincts and innate trends.

Malinowski, Bronisław 1918. Fishing in the Trobriand Islands. Man 18: 87-92.

But none the less, the customary forms of distribution must proceed along the prescribed channels. (Malinowski 1918: 90)

Just collecting channels.

The taboos become much more stringent when the fishing period at full moon approaches: all strangers are rigorously excluded from the beach and its approaches; on the other hand, all the men of Labai must be in the village or on the beach, and they may not be absent on travels during the fishing season. [...] When the season approaches, the owners of canoes needing repair, and the intended owners of new ones, consult with the magician and offer him presents. On an appointed day, the magician performs a rite in his house, offering some food to ancestral spirits and reciting a spell. [...] This is the period of the strictest taboos observed by the whole community. [...] The whole village have to keep the sex taboo, and all strangers are strictly forbidden access to the village. (Malinowski 1918: 91)

Another reason to keep a close watch on "the stranger".

Malinowski, Bronisław 1920a. Classificatory Particles in the Language of Kiriwina. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London 1(4): 33-78.

That language is an ethnographic document of fundamental importance is a palin truism. [...] The study of the linguistic aspect is indispensable, especially if we want to grasp the social psychology of a tribe, i.e. their manner of thinking, in so far as it is conditioned by the peculiarities of their culture. (Malinowski 1920a: 33)

So if "such and no other is the nature of primitive speech", then primitive peoples are unable to think?

In saying this I am simply stating my own experience in this matter. It would require a volume to substantiate this statement. The reading of such works as Wundt's Sprache, Paul's Principles, Professor Tucker's and Professor Oertel's treatises has helped me immensely in my work - it has, so to speak, allowed me to see linguistic facts. [...] W. Wundt, Volkerpsychologie, first two volumes; Die Sprache, Leipzig, 1900; H. Paul, Principles of the History of Language, English translation, London, 1888; T. G. Tucker, Introduction to the Natural History of Language, London, 1908; H. Oertel, Lectures on the Study of Language, New York, 1901. (Malinowski 1920a: 35)

Hot damn. Years of work.

To disregard this linguistic usage would be as incorrect as to misuse the gender in an Indo-European language, and the natives might laugh, as rude people, uncorrupted by good manners, do laugh when their language is mutilated by a foreigner. (Malinowski 1920a: 49)

It is of course impolite to mock. I wonder if the natives laughed rudely when he was learning their language?

Nevertheless, such considerations can hardly be looked upon at present as anything but linguistic curios, as long as we are not in possession of a system of consistent definitions of parts of speech. (Malinowski 1920a: 60)

Were the peripatetic linguistic functions consistently defined at the time of writing about PC?

The bulk of such expressions are found with the suffic tala (or the archair form tana), which in this connexion plays a part similar to the indefinite article un (in French), ein (in German), and a (in English). (Malinowski 1920a: 62)

Tala Tribe Called Quest, Tala Perfect Circle, Tala Cat Called Fritz.

If parts of speech and other grammatical distinctions possess any deeper significance, correspond to real distinctions in human thinking and human Weltanschauung, then let us once and for ever find this out. And then, whenever we find new linguistic forms and groupings we shall be able to say what they mean in relation to human social psychology and the special psychology of the given nation. (Malinowski 1920a: 66)

Innate tendencies and national character.

But also it is to serve us as an example of a general proposition, namely, that there is an urgent need for an Ethno-linguistic theory, a theory for the guidance of linguistic research to be done among natives and in connexion with ethnographic study. (Malinowski 1920a: 69)

Should or does (in Dell Hymes) this include PC?

Further research is thus stimulated, and this leads to the discovery of new facts. And so on; theoretical analysis compels us to see gaps in the facts and to formulate problems - this elucidates new facts, which must be submitted to theoretical analysis again, and so on, until the limit is reached, where further details would be too vague and too insignificant for observation. (Malinowski 1920a: 73)

With PC there doesn't appear to be such limit.

Speaking of a Melanesian part of speech, he says: "These are here called 'Possessives' for want of a better term, and are not called Possesive Pronouns because Pronouns they are not." We are neither told why the author thinks so dogmatically and affirms so boldly that "Pronouns they are not", we have to take it on his word - nor does he even trouble to tell us what he understands by pronoun. (Malinowski 1920a: 76)

Likewise with his own subjective conditionals ("It would be even incorrect, I think...").

Codrington's distinction must therefore rest on some subtlety, which he has in his mind, but which he never explicitly states. (Malinowski 1920a: 76)

Hopefully context can draw out the full implications of vanity and sincerity.

Malinowski, Bronisław 1920b. Kula; the Circulating Exchange of Valuables in the Archipelagoes of Eastern New Guinea. Man 20: 97-105.

In this article is described a special system of trade, obtaining over a widespread area, and possessing several features remarkable in their bearing upon questions of primitive economics, as well as throwing some new light on native mentality. (Malinowski 1920b: 97)

I noted the kula described in a similar manner ("a special system") in the paper about baloma and thinking about the "special consideration" given to speech in purely social intercourse whether his patterns of theorization are not behind some of his observations about "native mentality" (primitive mentality?). Also, I wonder if the semicolon has its own idioconvention in these titles. I am tempted to emulate it in the survey compendium (i.e. "Phatic Communion; the [...]" and "Phatic Function, the [...]", and so on.)

The distant and perilous trading expeditions of the South Sea islanders are a well-known feature of their tribal life. (Malinowski 1920b: 97)

As to fleshing out the aforehinted argument, one must ask if PC is such a "well-known" feature of native tribal life that it merits special consideration as the one and only true primitive use of speech? Wouldn't "primal screams", interjections, the emotional monologues of inarticulate cries predate (ah, the problem of origin) or at least have some functionaly primacy before the social function? Phatic function, when employed in the vocative, interpellative, Zuckermanian "violence" sense, is little more than a re-dressed conative/"appeal" function.

This means that the main gift has to be repaid on a future occasion and the basi is given in token of good faith - but it, in turn, must be repaid by me in the meantime by a gift of small armshells. (Malinowski 1920b: 99)

What I haven't noticed before is the aspect of "goodwill" in this "good faith" in the exchange. It's almost a material medium for "mutual confiding".

Now all my partners - whether from overseas or from within the district - compete for the favour of receiving this particular article of mine, and those who are specially keen try to obtain it by giving me pokala (offerings) and kaributu (solicitory gifts). (Malinowski 1920b: 99)


But this is sufficient to make clear that the Kula involves a complicated system [|] of gifts and countergifts, ni which the social side (partnership), as well as the rules of give and take, are definitely established and regulated by custom. (Malinowski 1920b: 99-100)

Ties of union constitute "the social side" of PC.

It must be emphasized that all these natives, and more especially the Trobrianders, have both a word for, and a clear idea of, barter (gimwali), and that they are fully aware of the difference between the transactions at the Kula and common barter. (Malinowski 1920b: 100)

But do they have a word for and a clear idea of PC and its difference from communication?

As in many other native transactions, the main corrective force is supplied by the deeply engrained idea that liberality is the most important and the most honourable virtue, whereas meanness brings shame and opprobium upon the miser. (Malinowski 1920b: 100)

Something analogous awaits the conversationalist who takes PC, in its Malinowskian form, as a virtue instead of a vice, considers collective monologue the appropriate form of small talk, and is interested in the conversation partner only as a listener.

This, of course, does not completely exclude many squabbles, deep resentments and ever feuds over real or imagined grievances in the Kula exchange. (Malinowski 1920b: 100)


A whole cycle of beliefs centres round this main idea, and there is a system of rites which are always practiced in shipwreck, and which, if carried out properly, would ensure safety to those shipwrecked. (Malinowski 1920b: 104)

Phraseology for the contextual reading of PC.

Malinowski, Bronisław 1920c. War and Weapons Among the Natives of the Trobriand Islands. Man 20: 10-12.

They never fought without warning, nor would they fight at night, and though complete victory - death of the enemies and the destruction of their village - was the ultimate aim of a war, the mere fact of fighting as a sport, and the glory derived from a display of daring and skill, were an important incitement to warfare. (Malinowski 1920c: 10)

Somewhat related to social pleasure and self-enhancement. Also, notice the futility in "fighting as a sport".

A row over gardens, pigs, women, a breach of etiquette, or suspected sorcery would result in a preliminary fight on the spot with light weapons, such as sword clubs, throwing sticks, light spears, or walking-stick, which the natives always used to carry about with them. (Malinowski 1920c: 10)

The existential outcome that may result from the antipathies borne from gossip.

The "ceremonial" weapons, such as sword clubs, walking sticks, and throwing truncheons were used in village brawls only, and never in regular fighting. This type of weapon, very widely distributed over the South Seas, and well represented in all museum collections, deserves a few words of explanation. It illustrates well one of the typical features of the South Sea Islander - his ruling passion for display. (Malinowski 1920c: 12)

This passion is, really, vanity.

Malinowski, Bronisław 1921a. The Primitive Economics of the Trobriand Islanders. The Economic Journal 31(121): 1-16.

A student of economics, in possession of a systematic theory, might be naturally tempted to inquire how far, if at all, his conclusions can be applied to a type of society entirely different from our own. He would attempt in vain, however, to answer this question on the basis of the ethnographical data extant, or, if he did, his results could not be correct. (Malinowski 1921a: 1)

Surely there are variations of "national character" but how far can we compare fireplace cooking gossip to the small talk of western peoples waiting for a bus?

It is obvious that the series of magical rites - punctuating the progress of activities at regular intervals, imposing a series of rest periods, and, in the institution of standard plots (Leywota), establishing a model to the whole community - is of extreme importance. It acts as a psychological force, making for a more highly organised sytem of work, than it would be possible to achieve at this stage of culture by an appeal to force or to reason. (Malinowski 1921a: 6)

If the peripatetic triad holds then this psychological force is emotive/emotional, perhaps having to do with collective feeling.

The whole period of the Kayasa is punctuated by other feasts, also provided for by the chief, and everyone who takes part is under an implicit obligation to do his best, and work his hardest, so that the Kayasa may be a success. (Malinowski 1921a: 7)

Phraseology for discussing the felt duty of opening one's mouth to say something even when (or particularl when) there is nothing to say.

To return to this, we must first consider, what part of the whole tribal income is apportioned to the chief. By various channels, by dues and tributes, and especially through the effect of polygamy, with its resulting obligations of his relatives-in-law, about 30 per cent. of the whole food production of his district finds its way into the large, finely-decorated yam houses of the chief. (Malinowski 1921a: 8)

Collecting channels.

One of the greatest insults that can be uttered is to call someone "Man with no food,' and it would be bitterly resented, and probably a quarrel would ensue. (Malinowski 1921a: 8)

Far from primitive communism and communion of food. The role of food in Malinowski's field experience is still open-ended. He didn't eat with the natives and did have his own rations, so this wouldn't insult him, but still he is found listening to native gossip around the village fire.

To be able to boast of [|] having food, is one of their chief glories and ambitions. (Malinowski 1921a: 8-9)

The glory of the yam house.

Their whole conduct, in the matter of eating in public, is guided by the rule that no suspicion of scarcity of food can possibly be attached to the eater. For example, to eat publicly in a strange village would be considered humiliating, and is never done. [↩] Their ambitions in this direction are also shown by the keen interest taken in the display of food. On all possible occasions - at harvest time, when there is an interchange of gifts, or when the enormous food distributions (Sagali) take place - the display of the food is one of the main features of interest. And there are even special food exhibitions, in which two villages compete against each other, and which in the old days used to be taken so seriously that often war was the result. [↩] The chief is the only person who owns a big yam house, which is made with open interstices between the beams so that all may look through and admire the yams, of which the finest are always placed to the front. The chief is, as a matter of fact, also the only person who can accumulate, and, as a matter of privilege, the only one who is allowed to own and display large quantities. This gives him a definite status, is a sign of high rank, and satisfies his ambition. Finally, it enhances his power, broadly speaking, in the same manner as possession of wealth does with us. (Malinowski 1921a: 9)

Concerning "all the types of social sentiments such as ambition, vanity, passion for power and wealth" (PC 3.3). Interestingly, power and wealth are not as separable as they are in our society, or at least they're more entangled because food is the primary "currency" and wealth is intimately tied with the possibility of procuring food en masse.

Thus, on the one hand, the chief's economic function is to create objects of wealth, and to accumulate provisions for tribal use, thus making big tribal enterprises possible. On the other hand, in doing so, he enhances his prestige and influence, which he also exercises through economic means. (Malinowski 1921a: 12)

Touching upon "social pleasure and self-enhancement" more generally.

It is necessary to point out that, in such a short article, where the broad outline of the institutions and customs has to be given with a few strokes, I have had to summarise certain things. (Malinowski 1921a: 12)

Phraseology for giving context and expanding what is in very broad strokes in PC.

A greater wealth of detail, though it might blur certain outlines and certainly would make things look less simple, would have allowed us to draw our conclusions even more forcibly and convincingly. (Malinowski 1921a: 12)


This state of affairs might be called - as a new conception requires a new term - Tribal Economy. (Malinowski 1921a: 15)


Malinowski, Bronisław 1921b. Review of The Group Mind by William McDougall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Man 21: 106-109.

For there can be no doubt that McDougall's [Introduction to Social Psychology] is one of the most important contributions to the porblem of social psychology. A clear view of human nature in its instinctive and emotional aspects, the recognition of their importance; an analysis of how the instinctive, conative and emotional elements enter into the formation of belief and custom - all these are points of view of the utmost importance to the ethnologist, whether he works in the field or in the study. (Malinowski 1921b: 107)

How necessary is McDougall for my current paper? Can I push him and some others (like Shands) into the next one? Also, this is not the peripatetic triad - why are instincts in place of intelligence?

The author deals with his problem by analysing in the first part of the book the phenomena of the crowd, used as a type of the unorganised group, and of the army, taken as type of the highly-organised group. These two extreme forms of group life allow him to lay bare the essential features of collective mentality. (Malinowski 1921b: 107)

Familiar enough from footnotes. Is "the unorganised group" the primary locus of PC? Is "pleasantness" one such essential feature?

In the chapter on Group Spirit the author enters into the problem of the self-consciousness of the group. He discusses the importance of the realisation on the part of its members of what the group is, that is of the self-knowledge of the group and of the self-regarding sentiment towards the group by its members. The importance of the esprit de corps, of the interaction of various group-loyalties within the same individual, and of the hierarchy of groups and group-loyalties is very well brought out. (Malinowski 1921b: 107)

The question of "self-knowledge" can be put to ties of union. Notice that esprit de corps does not appear in PC but does appear in La Barre and others of his time.

The third part, in which the genesis of national character is studied, is again of considerable direct interest to the ethnologist, to those engaged in the study of race and of the physical basis of national character, even more than to the social anthropologist. (Malinowski 1921b: 108)

I may just have to read the damn book as soon as possible.

Conceptions and ideas must be treated on their own merit, and not according to their country of origin. We must try to keep passports and protective tariffs out of Science. (Malinowski 1921b: 108)


Malinowski, Bronisław 1922b. Ethnology and the Study of Society. Economica 6: 208-219.

Every branch of knowledge can be made useful; first, in its direct application to the practical management of the subject; secondly, in opening a widel outlook upon its subject matter, in allowing us to build up a more adequate theory of the phenomena in question. (Malinowski 1922b: 208)

More on the value of giving context.

Broadly speaking, the evil is mainly caused by the destruction of all vital interest for the native, by taking away from him of all that was dear and valuable to him, of all that gave him the joy of living. Whole departments of tribal law and morality, of custom and usage, have been senselessly wiped out by a superficial, haphazard legislation, made in the early days often by newcomers unused to native ways and unprepared to face the difficult problem. They applied to the regulation of native life all the prejudices of the uneducated man to anything strange, foreign, unconventional and to him incomprehensible. (Malinowski 1922b: 209)

The sentiment at the end of Argonauts.

The savage, like anyone else, must have his pastimes and amusements, [|] his sports and pleasures, which give zest and meaning to his life. Some of them are really fine, æsthetic and significant, beneficient, hygienically and psychologically, and devoid of any harm whatever, even from the point of view of European morality. (Malinowski 1922b: 209-210)

This was quoted in one of the papers about him. The argument has significance to PC: communication without meaning itself gives meaning to life.

In the Trobriand Island in the N.E. of New Guinea, no elements of sex enter at all into their dancing which, in part, consists of conventionalized imitation of animals, but mainly is a performance where athletic, rhythmic and musical skill is exhibited. Strong passions of vanity, ambition and rivalry are displayed, but sexual libido is entirely absent. (Malinowski 1922b: 210)

Already a familiar set of sentiments.

The only knowledge of past history we possess, we owe to the testimony of chroniclers and historians of past ages, whose views on social matters and human nature widely differ from our own. (Malinowski 1922b: 216)

Human nature is supposedly universal, while views of human nature change.