Argonauts of the Western Pacific

Malinowski, Bronisław Kasper 1922. Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd.

This trading system, the Kula, is the subject I am setting out to describe in this volume, and it will be seen that it is an economic phenomenon of considerable theoretical importance. It looms paramount in the tribal life of those natives who live within its circuit, and its importance is fully realised by the tribesmen themselves, whose ideas, ambitions, desires and vanities are very much bound up with the Kula. (Malinowski 1922: 2)

Note that ideas, ambitions and desires pretty much accord to the peripathetic triad (feelings, actions, and thoughts), but vanities are added out of place, reminiscent of the social sentiments involved in phatic communion: "ambition, vanity, passion for power and wealth" (PC 3.3).

In Ethnography, where a candid account of such data is perhaps even more necessary, it has unfortunately in the past not always been supplied with sufficient generosity, and many writers do not ply the full searchlight of methodic sincerity, as they move among their facts but produce them before us out of complete obscurity. (Malinowski 1922: 3)

The same could be said of the author whose opinionated essay moves among "facts" without producing citations (to Spencer, Durkheim, or Jespersen). In other words, there is a lack of "methodic sincerity" in his own writings elsewhere.

Again, in historical science, no one could expect to be seriously treated if he made any mystery of his sources and spoke of the past as if he knew it by divination. In Ethnography, the writer is his own chronicler and the historian at the same time, while his sources are no doubt easily accessible, but also supremely elusive and complex; they are not embodied in fixed, material documents, but in the behaviour and in the memory of living men. (Malinowski 1922: 3)

Likewise. Although the sources (particular texts) are not difficult to find - all identified are easily accessible (these days) and popular at their time. Nonetheless the essay in question proceeds as if it had been a divination (or, as per the author's own words, actuated by a demon of invention).

I came back duly, and soon gathered an audience around me. A few compliments in pidgin-English on both sides, some tobacco changing hands, induced an atmosphere of mutual amiability. (Malinowski 1922: 5)

Amiability, "the quality of having a friendly and pleasant manner". This must be the famous "atmosphere of sociability" (PC 7.5) or "a pleasant atmosphere of polite, social intercourse" (PC 9.4).

It was easy to look at it and obtain the names of the tools, and even some technical expressions about the proceedings, but there the matter ended. It must be borne in mind that pidgin-English is a very imperfect instrument for expressing one's ideas, and that before one gets a good training in framing questions and understanding answers one has the uncomfortable feeling that free communication in it with the natives will never be attained; and I was quite unable to enter into any more detailed or explicit conversation with them at first. (Malinowski 1922: 5)

The imperfections of Pidgin English is treated extensively by Jespersen. Now the interesting thing here is to question whether Malinowski's treatment of the speech of these people in the famous essay on "primitive speech" was due to the limits of his own means of communication with them.

As to obtaining their ideas about religion, and magic, their beliefs in sorcery and spirits, nothing was forthcoming except a few superficial items of folk-lore, mangled by being forced into pidgin-English. (Malinowski 1922: 5)

It is thoroughly unsurprising that "ideas about religion" would interest him, though the mangled aspect does throw shade on his implicit conclusion that the elementary forms of religious life cannot be found in the communion of minds or the mental effervescence of such communion.

Moreover, the manner in which my white informants spoke about the natives and put their views was, naturally, that of untrained minds, unaccustomed to formulate their thoughts with any degree of consistency and precision. And they were for the most part, naturally enough, full of the biased and pre-judged opinions inevitable in the average practical man, whether administrator, missionary, or trader, yet so strongly repulsive to a mind striving after the [|] objective, scientific view of things. The habit of treating with a self-satisfied frivolity what is really serious to the ethnographer; the cheap rating of what to him is a scientific treasure, that is to say, the native's cultural and mental peculiarities and independence - these features, so well known in the inferior amateur's writing, I found in the tone of the majority of white residents. (Malinowski 1922: 5-6)

Or, as some white man or other put this bias: "The aborigenes are not able to think exactly, and their beliefs do not possess any "exact meaning."" (Malinowski 1913: 213)

For the native is not the natural companion for a white man, and after you have been working with him for several hours, seeing how he does his gardens, or letting him tell you items of folk-lore, or discussing his customs, you will naturally hanker after the company of your own kind. But if you are alone in a village beyond reach of this, you go for a solitary walk for an hour or so, return again and then quite naturally seek out the natives' society, this time as a relief from loneliness, just as you would any other companionship. And by means of this natural intercourse, you learn to know him, and you become familiar with his customs and beliefs far better than when he is a paid, and often bored, informant. (Malinowski 1922: 7)

This passage gives a wholly deeper meaning to "people brought together by the mere need of companionship and does not serve any purpose of communicating ideas" (PC 9.1). That is to say, the company of the native is preferable to complete isolation, and happens to be a worthwhile means to gain ethnographic data.

Soon after I had established myself in Omarakana (Trobriand Islands), I began to take part, in a way, in the village life, to look forward to the important or festive events, to take personal interest in the gossip and the developents of the small village occurrences; to wake up every morning to a day, presenting itself to me more or less as it does to the native. (Malinowski 1922: 7)

Huh. Only now do I notice that the word "gossip" appears in PC a total of 5 times: "they accompany some mere manual work by gossip quite unconnected with what they are doing" (PC 1.2); "Such gossip, as found in Primitive Societies, differs only a little from our own" (PC 5.2); "a number of people aimlessly gossip together" (PC 7.4); "the give and take of utterances which make up ordinary gossip" (PC 7.6); and "pure sociabilities and gossip" (PC 9.1).

Quarrels, jokes, family scenes, events usually trivial, sometimes dramatic but always significant, formed the atmosphere of my daily life, as well as of theirs. (Malinowski 1922: 7)

The "significance" here sounds poetic and is thoroghly contrasted with how the "meaning of [their] words is almost completely irrelevant" (PC 2.1). // Cf. somewhere in the next-to-last chapter the incident when a conch shell is blown due to intrigue (paragraph 1399 in this online version).

It must be remembered that as the native saw me constantly every day, they ceased to be interested or alarmed, or made self-conscious by my [|] presence, and I ceased to be a disturbing element in the tribal life which I was to study, altering it by my very approach, as always happens with a new-comer to every savage community. (Malinowski 1922: 7-8)

Some much-needed elaboration to "the stranger" part; the disturbance (interference) here is much less severe than the "enemy" status of a new-comer given in PC. Also, the change in behaviour is the same as that noticed by Erving Goffman in his Presentation of the Self.

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)

This is diametrically opposed to the "comments on what is perfectly obvious" (PC 5.1) and "personal accounts of the speaker's views and life history, to which the hearer listens under some restraint and with slightly veiled impatience, waiting till his own turn arrives to speak" (PC 5.4).

I had to learn how to behave, and to a certain extent, I acquired "the feeling" for native good and bad manners. With this, and with the capacity of enjoying their company and sharing some of their games and amusements, I began to feel that I was indeed in touch with the natives, and this is certainly the preliminary condition of being able to carry on successful field work. (Malinowski 1922: 8)

Well, true enough, "There is in all human beings the well-known tendency to congregate, to be together, to enjoy each other's company." (PC 3.2)

[...] the Ethnographer has to be inspired by the knowledge of the most modern results of scientific study, by its principles and aims. I shall not enlarge upon this subject, except by way of one remark, to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding. Good [|] training in theory, and acquaintance with its latest results, is not identical with being burdened with "preconceived ideas." (Malinowski 1922: 8-9)

Nor is, I think, the simple negation of "preconceived ideas" a truly scientific endeavour. The "apophatic" definition of PC stands on shaky legs because crucial points are supported on nothing more than personal preference: "It would be even incorrect, I think, to say that such words serve the purpose of establishing a common sentiment" (PC 2.3).

[Ethnology] has transformed for us the sensational, wild an unaccountable world of [|] "savages" into a number of well ordered communities, governed by law, behaving and thinking according to consistent principles. The word "savage," whatever association it might have had originally, connotes ideas of boundless liberty, of irregularity, of something extremely and extraordinarily quainty. [...] [the modern Ethnographer] with his tables of kinship terms, genealogies, maps, plans and diagrams, proves the existence of an extensive and big organisation, shows the constitution of the tribe, of the clan, of the family; and he gives us a picture of the native subjected to a strict code of behaviour and good manners, to which in comparison the life at the Court of Versailles or Escurial was free and easy. (Malinowski 1922: 9-10)

Compared to "the primitive mind, whether among savages or our own uneducated classes" (PC 4.3), this is exceedingly poetic and humanizing. Instead of the uneducated industrial workers in English cities, the point of comparison is taken from the French court!

And again: - "Guided in his conduct by nothing but his instincts and propensities, and governed by his unchecked passions." [...] Quoted from the Rev. C. W. Abel, of the London Missionary School, "Savage Life in New Guinea," no date. (Malinowski 1922: 10; footnote)

The terminology (instinct, unchecked passions) here is exactly that of Herbert Spencer!

Thus for instance, in asking how they would treat crime, or punish it, it would be vain to put to a native a sweeping question such as, "How do you treat and punish a criminal?" for even words could not be found to express it in native, or in pidgin. But an imaginary case, or still better, a real occurrence, will stimulate a native to express his opinion and to supply plentiful information. A real case indeed will start the natives on a wave of discussion, evoke expressions of indignation, show them taking sides - all of which talk will probably contain a wealth of definite views, of moral censures, as well as reveal the social mechanism set in motion by the crime committed. (Malinowski 1922: 12)

Very much the same method used by Paul Ekman to gauge the universality of emotions in facial expressions, also conducted in the same region, though with soap and chocolate for trade and reward instead of Malinowski's tobacco.

This is, in the presentation of intimate touches of native life, in bringing home to us these aspects of it with which one is made familiar only through being in close contact with the natives, one way or the other, for a long period of time. (Malinowski 1922: 17)

I am pleasantly surprised that contact actually does appear in Malinowski's active vocabulary, whereas it is completely lacking in the above-mentioned essay. The belief that Roman Jakobson borrowed "establishing contact" as the stuff of PC from Alan Gardiner nonetheless still remains strong.

Living in the village with no other business but to follow native life, one sees the customs, ceremonies and transactions over and over again, one has examples of their beliefs as they are actually lived through, and the full body and blood of actual native life fills out soon the skeleton of abstract constructions. (Malinowski 1922: 18)

Phraseology that might do service for the "intuitivist" argument about PC, i.e. how every participant in the "curiosity shop of isolated specimens" (Jespersen) that it is fills the impression of the skeleton in the essay with a life and blood of his own.

He is able in each case to state whether an act is public or private; how a public assembly behaves, and what it looks like; he can judge whether an event is ordinary or an exciting and singular one; whether natives bring to it a great deal of sincere and earnest spirit, or perform it in fun; whether they do it in a perfunctory manner, or with seal and deliberation. (Malinowski 1922: 18)

An expression I was not expecting to find! Compare to "a social gesture, performed perfunctorily by some as a concession to convention, and in a lively and friendly manner by others" (Thonssen & Gilkinson 1953: 31).

In other words, there is a series of phenomena of great importance which cannot possibly be recorded by questioning or computing documents, but have to be observed in their full actuality. Let us call them the imponderabilia of actual life. Here belongs such things as the routine of a man's working day, the details of his care of the body, of the manner of taking food and preparing it; the tone of conversational and social life around the village fires, the existence of strong friendships or hostilities, and of passing sympathies and dislikes between [|] people; the subtle yet unmistakable manner in which personal vanities and ambitions are reflected in the behaviour of the individual and in the emotional reactions of those who surround him. All these facts can and ought to be scientifically formulated and recorded, but it is necessary that this be done, not be a superficial registration of details, as is usually done by untrained observers, but with an effort at penetrating the mental attitude expressed in them. (Malinowski 1922: 18-19)

Fuuck, this is good. The imponderabilia recalls the "rough ground" idiom. The tone of conversational and social life (around the village fires, no less!) is exactly what his invention, phatic communion, penetrates. On passing sympathies and dislikes we have "the same emphasis on affirmation and consent, mixed perhaps with an incidental disagreement which creates the bonds of antipathy" (PC 5.3).

Indeed, if we remember that these imponderable yet all important facts of actual life are part of the real substance of the social fabric, that in them are spun the innumerable threads which keep together the family, the clan, the village community, the tribe - their significance becomes clear. (Malinowski 1922: 19)

This appears to be an attempt at a micro-macro "bridge" between PC (and other imponderabilia) and the social matrix.

Applying this to ourselves, we all know that "family life" means for us, first and foremost, the atmosphere of home, all the innumerable small acts and attentions in which are expressed the affection, the mutual interests, the little preferences, and the little antipathies which constitute intimacy. (Malinowski 1922: 19)

Whoa. Profound.

In all social relations besides the family ties, even those between mere tribesmen and, beyond that, between hostile or friendly members of different tribes, meeting on any sort of social business, there is this intimate [|] side, expressed by the typical details of intercourse, the tone of their behaviour in the presence of one another. This side is different from the definite, crystalised legal frame of the relationship, and it has to be studied and stated in its own right. (Malinowski 1922: 19-20)

The keyword here appears to be tone. I like that he seems to always consider both sympathies and antipathies.

Take any example from our own culture, whether it be the pomp and pageantry of a state ceremony, or a picturesque custom kept up by street urchins, its "outline" will not tell you whether the rite flourishes still with full vigour in the hearts of those who perform it or assist at the performance or whether they regard it as almost a dead thing, kept alive for tradition's sake. But observe and fix the data of their behaviour, and at once the degree of vitality of the act will become clear. (Malinowski 1922: 20)

This sent me to an original idea: what if one would treat small talk itself as a "survival"? If we examined it in the "rough ground" as is suggested here, would we find it as vital as it was first described in the essay?

If in making a daily round of the village, certain small incidents, characteristic forms of taking food, of conversing, of doing work [...] are found occurring over and over again, they should be noted down at once. (Malinowski 1922: 20)

Phraseological finding: PC is a characteristic form of conversing.

Forgetting for a moment that he knows and understands the structure of this ceremony, the main dogmatic ideas underlying it, he might try to find himself only in the midst of an assembly of human beings, who behave seriously or jocularly, with earnest concentration or with bored frivolity, who are either in the same mood as he finds them every day, or else are screwed up to a high pitch of excitement, and so on and so on. (Malinowski 1922: 21)

A superb shorthand for "slightly veiled impatience" (PC 5.4).

I am not certain if this is equally easy for everyone - perhaps the Slavonic nature is more plastic and more naturally savage than that of Western Europeans - but though the degree of success varies, the attempt is possible for everyone. (Malinowski 1922: 21)

What in the fuck? Not cool bro. Didn't you just a few pages earlier downplay the "savage"? Now Slavs are savages? WTF! // On second thought he - of Polish descent - probably meant himself!

Out of such plunges into the life of the natives - and I made them frequently not only for study's sake but because everyone needs human company - I have carried away a distinct feeling that their behaviour, their manner of being, in all sorts of tribal transactions, became more transparent and easily understandable than it had been before. (Malinowski 1922: 22)

Once again, "There is in all human beings the well-known tendency to congregate, to be together, to enjoy each other's company." (PC 3.2)

For, in every act of tribal life, there is, first the routine prescribed by custom and tradition, then there is the manner in which it is carried out, and lastly there is the commentary to it, contained in the native's mind. A man who submits to various customary obligations, who follows a traditional course of action, does it impelled by certain motives, to the accompaniment of certain feelings, guided by certain ideas. These ideas, feelings, and impulses are moulded and conditioned by the culture in which we find them, and are therefore an ethnic peciluarity of the given society. (Malinowski 1922: 22)

Meta-pragmatic commentary? And hitting the peripatetic bases (feelings, actions, ideas). Notice how actions are bound with "impulses". Whereas Sapir and Jespersen bring up the "national character" (ethnic peciluarity) of language, Malinowski commendably expands it to the whole semiotic registry with these three bases.

But is this possible? Are these subjective states not too elusive or shapeless? And, even granted that people usually feel or think or experience certain psychological states in association with the performance of customary acts, the majority of them surely are not able to formulate these states, to put them into words. (Malinowski 1922: 22)

Recall: "In fact, the theory of feelings and emotions seems to be the least developed in individual as well as in social psychology. Especially it might be suggested that to pursue the investigation on double lines is useless; feelings always find adequate expression in ideas, in fact crystallizes in them." (Malinowski 1913: 192-193)

First of all, it has to be laid down that we have to study here stereotyped manners of thinking and feeling. As sociologists, we are not interested in what A or B may feel qua individuals, in the accidental course of their own personal experiences - we are interested only in what they feel and think qua members of a given community. Now in this capacity, their mental states receive a certain stamp, become stereotyped by the institutions in which they live, by the influence of tradition and folk-lore, by the very vehicle of thought, that is by language. The social and cultural environment in which they move forces them to think and feel in a definite manner. (Malinowski 1922: 23)

Wait, how is this different from the non-empirical implications of collective consciousness so objected to in the review of Durkheim's Religious Life? There is a distinct possibility here of "self-refutation". Also, now language is primarily a vehicle of thought, a means of communicating ideas?

They alse adduce terms of native classification; sociological, psychological and industrial termini technici, and have rendered the verbal contour of native thought as precisely as possible. (Malinowski 1922: 23)

As an evident collector of "contours", I appreciate this very much.

This corpus inscriptionum Kiriwiniensium can be utilised, not only by myself, but by all those who, through their better penetration and ability of interpreting them, may find points which escape my attention, very much as the other corpora form the basis for the various interpretations of ancient and prehistoric cultures; only, thene ethnographic inscriptions are all decipherable and clear, have been almost all translated fully and unambiguously, and have been provided with native cross-commentaries or scholia obtained from living sources. (Malinowski 1922: 24)

Relevant for actual linguistic history. Reportedly this corpus was sent to Zellig Harris who did next to nothing with it and passed it on to similar results.

It was soon after I had adopted this course that I received a letter from Dr. A. H. Gardiner, the well-known Egyptologist, uring me to do this very thing. From his point of view as archæologist, he naturally saw the enormous possibilites for an Ethnographer of obtaining a similar body of written sources as have been preserved to us from ancient cultures, plus the possibility of illuminating them by personal knowledge of the full life of that culture. (Malinowski 1922: 24; footnote)

How small was the academic world at this time that I suddenly find connections between Malinowski and Jakobson not only in Otto Jespersen but also Alan Gardiner? I am pleasantly surprised and now expect to find some further, deeper connection between Malinowski and Gardiner in the latter's book on language.

The easily accessible portions of the coast and the outlying islands would certainly offer a hospitable reception to immigrants of a higher stock; [...] (Malinowski 1922: 27)

You mean white people, right?

It seemed as if the Eastern people must be much more complex, in one direction towards the cruel, man-eating savage, in the other towards the finely-giften, poetical lord of primitive forest and seas, when I compared them with the relatively coarse and dull native of Mailu. (Malinowski 1922: 34)

Here's the stuff of antipathies and thinly veiled impatiences. It seems somewhat reasonable that the introductory chapter is perhaps more idealistic than the rest of the book where scientific correspondence trumps the need to leave a positive impression.

Big bodies of canoes are drawn high up the beach and covered with palm leaves; here and there nets are drying, spread out on special [|] stands, and on the platforms in front of the houses sit groups of men and women, busy at some domestic work, smoking and chatting. (Malinowski 1922: 35-36)

Curiously, the intuitive way I often "flesh out the skeleton" of PC is the social activity of smoking. This is, as far as I have seen, never put together in linguistic literature. So it's kinda satisfying to see Malinowski himself naturally joining these activities (smoking and chatting).

As the evening approaches, the life becomes more active, fires are kindled, and the natives busy themselves cooking and eating food. In the dancing season, towards dusk, groups of men and women foregather, singing, dancing, and beating drums. (Malinowski 1922: 36)

This is much more descriptive than "When a number of people sit together at a village fire, after all the daily tasks are over" (PC 1.2) and approaches the alternative: "In primitive speech I hear the laughing cries of exultation when lads and lasses vied with one another to attract the attention of the other sex, when everybody sang his merriest and danced his bravest to lure a pair of eyes to throw admiring glances in his direction" (Jespersen 1922: 434).

Their manner is shy and diffident, but not unfriendly - rather smiling and almost servile, in very great contrast to the morose Papuan, or the unfriendly, reserved South Coast Mailu or Aroma. On the whole, they give at first approach not so much the impression of wild savages as of smuf and self-satisfied bourgeois. (Malinowski 1922: 36)

Evidently there are different "temperament" types on the islands, which gives the remark about taciturnity and unfriendliness (PC 4.3) some flesh on the bones.

When our boat anchors there, the natives approach it in their canoes, offering clay pots for sale. But if we want to go ashore and have a look at their village, there is a great commotion, and all the women disappear from the open places. The younger ones run and hide in the jungle behind the village, and even the old hags conceal themselves in the houses. So that if we want to see the making of pottery, which is almost exclusively women's work, we must first lure some old woman out of her retreat with generous promises of tobacco and assurances of honourable intentions. This has been mentioned here, because it is of ethnographic interest, as it is not only white men who inspire this shyness; if native strangers, coming from a distance for trade, put in for a short time in the Amphletts, the women also disappear in this fashion. This very ostentatious coyness is, however not a sham, because in the Amphletts, even more than in Dobu, married and unmarried life is characterised by strict chastity and fidelity. (Malinowski 1922: 47)

Surprisingly gender-specific addition to the fear of the stranger. In this case it comes with idiosyncracies of the local culture.

It is difficult to convey the feelings of intense interest and suspense with which an Ethnographer enters for the first time the district that is to be the future scene of his field-work. Certain salient features, characteristic of the place, at once rivet his attention, and fill him with hopes or apprehensions. The appearance of the natives, their manners, their types of behaviour, may augur well or ill for the possibilities of rapid and easy research. One is on the lookout for symptoms of deeper, sociological facts, one suspects many hidden and mysterious ethnographic phenomena behind the commonplace aspect of things. (Malinowski 1922: 51)

First contact: interest and attention. Looking for symptoms of deeper sociological facts sounds like ethnographic mysticism.

As soon as an interesting stranger arrives, half the village assembles around him, talking loudly and making remarks about him, frequently uncomplimentary, and altogether assuming a tone of jocular familiarity. (Malinowski 1922: 52)

Reminds me of one redditor's, a westener in China, observations of how people comment about him publicly, "oh, he can speak Chinese!" and "he can do the numbers with his fingers!"

In the circular street between the stores and living houses, everyday life goes on, that is, the preparation of food, the eating of meals, and the usual exchange of gossip and ordinary social amenities. (Malinowski 1922: 56)

There's that gossip again. Define: "casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true".

The interior of the houses is only used at night, or on wet days, and is more a sleeping than a living room. (Malinowski 1922: 56)

Relevant addition to "a European drawing-room" (PC 2.1), i.e. living room, which apparently is an outgrowth of the "guest room" in European manors.

Thus, in the first place, as we have seen, work is not carried out on the principle of the least effort. On the contrary, much time and energy is spent on wholly unnecessary effort, that is, from a utilitarian point of view. Again, work and effort, instead of being merely a means to an end, are, in a way an end in themselves. (Malinowski 1922: 60)

Phraseological significance. This is how he "explodes" the preconceived image of the "primitive man" as a lazy natural man who does next to no work. Instead, Malinowski sees the Trobriand natives doing surplus work.

Of course the fact that he is accorded marks of great deference, and approached in the manner as if he were a supreme despot, does not mean that perfect good fellowship and sociability do not reign in his personal relations with his companions and vassals. There is no difference in interests or outlook between him and his subjects. They sit together and chat, they exchange village gossip, the only difference being that the chief is always on his guard, and much more reticent and diplomatic than his companion, though he is no less interested. (Malinowski 1922: 65)

This is the first occasion, in this book, for both fellowship and sociability. Cf. "links of fellowship" (PC 4.5) and "mere sociabilities" (PC 3.1), "atmosphere of sociability" (PC 7.5), and "pure sociabilities and gossip" (PC 9.1).

The Crown Jewels, in fact, any heirlooms too valuable and too cumbersome to be worn, represent the same type of vaygu'a in that they are merely possessed for the sake of possession itself, and the ownership of them with the ensuing renown is the main source of their value. Also both heirlooms and vaygu'a are cherished because of the historical sentiment which surrounds them. However ugly, useless, and - according to current standards - valueless an object may be, if it has figured in historical scenes and passed through the hands of historic persons, and is therefore an unfailing vehicle of important sentimental associations, it cannot but be precious to us. (Malinowski 1922: 89)

I'm slowly beginning to see the importance of the additional term at the beginning: vanity. Note the synonymity of valueless and worthlessness (Jespersen), and the amount of reflexive formulations (something for the sake of itself) on the whole.

The comparison with the European heirlooms or Crown jewels was given in order to show that this type of ownership is not entirel a fantastic South Sea custom, untranslatable into our ideas. For - and this is a point I want to stress - the comparison I have made is not based on purely external, superficial similarity. The psychological and sociological forces at work are the same. (Malinowski 1922: 90)

Reminiscent of PC tropes, especially on the "European drawing-room" and "our own uneducated classes". The relevant psychological force is called propitiation - which is "needed to get over the strange and unpleasant tension which men feel when facing each other in silence" (PC 4.6).

This possession hardly ever makes him use the articles, and he remains under the obligation soon again to hand them on to one of his partners. But the temporary ownership allows him to draw a great deal of renown, to exhibit his article, to tell how he obtained it, and to plan to whom he is going to give it. And all this forms one of the favourite subjects of tribal conversation and gossip, in which the feats and the glory of Kula of chiefs or commoners are constantly discussed and re-discussed. (Malinowski 1922: 94)

Once again vanity (as well as gossip) pops up. Hence the social significance of the kula - it is something to talk about when more interesting topics do not obtain.

They are never tired of discussing the good points of their canoes, and analysing the various craft. In the coastal villages of the Lagoon, boys and young men will often sail out in small canoes on mere pleasure cruises, when they race each other, explore less familiar nooks of the [|] Lagoon, and in general undoubtedly enjoy the outing, in just the same manner as we would do. (Malinowski 1922: 107-108)

At this point it appears that the chapters are organized according to the topics that the natives themselves discuss frequently and at length, though this could be a false first impression.

Now, even the mere privilege of using exclusively this title is very highly valued by the natives. With this feature of the Trobriand social psychology, that is [|] with their characteristic ambition, vanity and desire to be renowned and well spoken of, the reader of the following pages will become very familiar. (Malinowski 1922: 117-118)

Adding to the explanation of "vanity", which at this point seems very different from the case of face presented by Goffman, although a closer examination would be necessary to determine the role of renown.

The owner and his kinsmen and fellow villagers will speak of it with the usual boasting and exaggerations, and the others will all be very keen to see it, and to watch its performances. Thus the institution of ceremonial launching is not a mere formality prescribed by custom; it corresponds to the psychological needs of the community, it rouses a great interest, and is very well attended even when the canoe belongs to a small community. (Malinowski 1922: 146)

Talking ("gossiping") about the canoe apparently fulfils the psychological needs of the community.

Before I had opportunities to see savage art in actual display, in its proper, "living" setting, there seemed to me always to exist some incongruity between the artistic finish of such objects and the general crudity of savage life, a crudity marked precisely on the æsthetic side. One imagines greasy, dirty, naked bodies, moppy hair full of vermin, and other realistic features which make up one's idea of the "savage," and in some respects reality bears out imagination. As a matter of fact though, the incongruity does not exist when once one has seen native art actually displayed in its own setting. A festival mob of natives, with the wonderful golden-brown colour of their skins brought out by washing and anointing and set off by the gaudy white, red and black of facial paint, feathers and ornaments, with their exquisitely carved and polished ebony objects, with their finely worked lime pots, has a distinct elegance of its own, without striking one as grotesque or incongruous in any æsthetic detail. There is an evident harmony between their festive mood, the display of colours and forms, and the manner in which they put on and bear their ornaments. (Malinowski 1922: 151)

It often feels like Malinowski is contending with the preconceived ideas he has formed on the basis of anthropological literature and remarks a clash between what he has read about and what he actually saw with his own eyes when amongst the natives.

All this shows that the accumulation of food is not only the result of economic foresight, but also prompted by the desire of display and enhancement of social prestige through possession of wealth. (Malinowski 1922: 169)

Finally something on the subject of "social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5), also here termed vanity.

The quantity of food eaten, whether in prospect or retrospect, is what matters most. "We shall eat, and eat till we vomit," is a stock phrase, often heard at feasts, intended to express enjoyment of the occasion, a close parallel to the plesaure felt at the idea of stores rotting away in the yam house. All this shows that the social act of eating and the associated conviviality are not present in the minds or customs of the Trobrianders, and what is socially enjoyed is the common admiration of fine and plentiful food, and the knowledge of its abundance. (Malinowski 1922: 171)

Noting on the lack of sociability in the act of eating. As opposed to "the specific feelings which form convivial gregariousness" (PC 7.6).

The view that the native can live in a state of individual search for food, or catering for his own household only, in isolation from any interchange of goods, implies a calculating, cold egotism, the possibility of enjoyment by man of utilities for their sake. This view, and all the previously criticised assumptions, ignore the fundamental human impulse to display, to share, to bestow. They ignore the deep tendency to create social ties through exchange of gifts. Apart from any consideration as to whether the gifts are necessary or even useful, giving for the sake of giving is one of the most important features of Trobriand sociology, and, from its very general and fundamental nature, I submit that it is a universal feature of all primitive societies. (Malinowski 1922: 175)

More reflexiveness. The general tenet is found already in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics: it is better to give than to receive. The sheer amount of something-for-the-sake-of-same constructions here makes me wonder if the many variations upon phaticity along the same lines were inspired by this book, as the construction is noticeably absent from PC itself.

Thus, a survey of terminology must always be supplemented by a direct analysis of ethnographic fact and inquiry into the native's ideas, that is, by collecting a body of opinions, typical expressions, and customary phrases by direct cross-questioning. (Malinowski 1922: 177)

Set phrases?

5. The Relationship of Personal Friendship. - Two men thus bound as a rule will carry on Kula between themselves, and, if they belong to an inland and Lagoon village respectively, they will be partners in the exchange of fish and vegetables (wasi).
6. Fellow-citizenship in a Village Community. - There are many types of presents given by one community to another. And, economically, the bonds of fellow-citizenship mean the obligation to contribute one's share to such a present. Again, at the mortuary divisions, sagali, the fellow-villagers of clans, differing from the deceased man's, receive a series of presents for the performance of mortuary dutes. (Malinowski 1922: 193)

Sadly these 8 forms of relationship are defined on economic grounds only.

Again, plenty of food, or in olden days the completion of a successful war expedition, would form the raison d'être of an uvalaku. Of course these reasons, explicitly given by the natives, are, so to speak, accessory causes, for in reality an uvalaku would be held whenever its turn came, that is, barring great scarcity of food or the death of an important personage. (Malinowski 1922: 208)

At some point it must be reasoned whether the explanation to PC given by Malinowski are true or accessory causes. If the distinction exists, why not put it to use.

It is rather puzzling to find that, although everyone is eager for the expedition, although they all enjoy it equally and satisfy their ambition and increase their wealth by it, yet the element of compulsion and obligation is introduced into it; for we are not accustomed to the idea of pleasure having to be forced on people. (Malinowski 1922: 209)

Likewise with PC which is defined as something pleasant and in the same breath as something one tolerates with slightly veiled impatience. As the poem, "The Phatic Man," demonstrates, there is also phatic violence (sensu Zuckerman) in the compulsive or obligatory nature of small talk.

On such occasions it is good form for chiefs not to busy themselves among the groups, nor to survey the proceedings, but to keep an aloof and detached attitude. In company with other notables, they discuss in the short, jerky sentences which make native languages so difficult to follow, the arrangements and prospects of the Kula, making now and then a mythological reference, forecasting the weather, and discussing the merits of the canoes. (Malinowski 1922: 212)

This is slightly different from "The binding tissue of words which unites the crew of a ship in bad weather" (PC 8.2) and more true to form with everyday experience, where pointing out present weather conditions is indeed pointless but forecasting (throwing forth?) has some limited merit.

In fact, what the natives designate by the name of Pilolu is nothing else but the enormous basin of the Lousançay Lagoon, the largest coral atoll in the world. To the natives, the name Pilolu is full of emotional associations, drawn from magic and myth; it is connected with the experiences of past generations, told by the old men round the village fires and with adventure personally lived through. (Malinowski 1922: 219)

Note the representative anecdote of PC, talking around village fire. Apparently this is also a means for generating emotional associations (telling myths).

Sailing has to be done, so to speak, on straight lines across the sea. Once they deviate from this course, all sorts of dangers crop up. Not only that, but they must sail between fixed points on the land. For, and this of course refers to the olden days, if they had to go ashore, anywhere but in the district of a friendly tribe, the perils which met them were almost as bad as those of reefs and sharks. If the sailors missed the friendly villages of the Amphletts and of Dobu, everywhere else they would meet with extermination. Even nowadays, though the danger of being illed would be smaller - perhaps not absolutely non-existent - yet the natives would feel very uncomfortable at the idea of landing in a strange district, fearing not only death by violence, but even more by evil magic. (Malinowski 1922: 222)

Notice the similarities with connections made elsewhere: "In the ase of even friendly strangers a certain amount of mistrust - of evil magic as well as of actual bad intentions - may have operated." (Malinowski 1913: 165)

The other country, Kaytalugi, is a land of women only, in which no man can survive. The women who live there are beautiful, big and strong, and they walk about naked, and with their bodily hair unshaven (which is contrary to the TRobriand custom). They are extremely dangerous to any man through the unbounded violence of their passion. The natives never tire of describing graphically how such women would satisfy their sensuous lust, if they got hold of some luckless, shipwrecked man. No one could survive, even for a short time, the amorous yet brutal attacks of these women. (Malinowski 1922: 223)

Death by snu-snu.

Let us listen to some such conversations, and try to steep ourselves in the atmosphere surrounding this handful of natives, cast for a while on to the narrow sandbank, far away from their homes, having to trust only to their frail canoes on the long journey which faces them. Darkness, the roar of surf breaking on the reef, the dry rattle of the pandanus leaves in the wind, all produce a frame of mind in which it is easy to believe in the danger of witches and all the beings usually hidden away, but ready to creep out at some special moment of horror. The change of tone is unmistakable, when you get the natives to talk about these things on such an occasion, from the calm, often rationalistic way of treating them in broad daylight in an Ethnographer's tent. [...] I have always found that whenever natives are found under similar circumstances, surrounded by the darkness and the imminent possibility of danger, they naturally drift into a conversation about the various things and beings into which the fears and apprehensions of generations have traditionally crystallised. (Malinowski 1922: 233)

Note the difference between the atmosphere of polite social intercourse. Instead, what we have here is more akin to the atmosphere surrounding beach fires of Western campers. I.e. the tradition of telling spooky stories (in the movies accompanied by flashlight if campfire is missing).

Thus if we imagine that we listen to an account of the perils and horrors of the seas, sitting round the fire at Yakuma or Legumatabu, we do not stray from reality. One of those who are specially versed in tradition, and who love to tell a story, might refer to one of his own experiences; or to a well-known case from the past, while others would chime in, nad comment, telling their own stories. General statements of belief would be given, while the younger men would listen to the tales so familiar, but always heard with renewed interest. (Malinowski 1922: 234)

To be honest this sounds like the true stuff of phatic communion, the stuff that didn't make it - for some reason or another - into the essay. The proper thing to do would be to relate these details (particularly the mythological aspects) to what is given in the essay. The result would be a much fuller picture of the type of conversation Malinowski had in his mind's eye when writing up the definition of PC.

Thus, the account given below is not only a summary of native belief, it is an ethnographic document in itself, representing the manner in which such type of narrative would be told over camp fires, the same subject being over and over again repeated by the same man, and listened to by the same audience, exactly as we, when children, or the peasants of Eastern Europe, will hearken to familiar fairy tales and Märchen. (Malinowski 1922: 248)

Hence the slightly veiled impatience? The personal views and life-histories have been heard already too many times?

A string of other accusations about some clay pots given by Tovasana to the same chief, and some pigs promised and never given, were also made by the angry headman. The visitors listened to it with polite assent, uttering here and there some noncommital remark. They, in their turn, complained about some sago, which they had hoped to receive in Nabwageta, but which was churlishly refused for some reason or other to all the men of Kaduwaga, Kaysiga and Kuyawa. (Malinowski 1922: 271)

Note that "noncommital grunt" also occurs in La Barre's treatment of phatic communion, and there's "Um-hum!" "on the other end of the wire" in Jakobson (1960d: 24). Define: "not expressing or revealing commitment to a definite opinion or course of action".

Kwatouto and Domdom on the one side, Gumasila and Nabwageta on the other were allies, and between theset wo factions there was a constant, smouldering hostility, preventing any development of friendly commercial intercourse, and breaking out now and then into open warfare. (Malinowski 1922: 287)

Oddest use of "intercourse" I've seen yet.

This land must remain, for the present anyhow, veiled for ourselves, as it also is for the Trobriand natives. For these, indeed, the few attempts which tehy occasionally made to come into contact with these natives, and the few mishaps which brought them to their shores, were all far from encouraging in results, and only strengthened the traditional superstitious fear of them. Several generations ago, a canoe or two from Burakwa, in the island of Kayeula, made an exploring trip to the district of Gabu, lying in a wide bay under the North-West flank of Koyatabu. The natives of Gabu, receiving them at first with a show of interest, and pretending to enter into commercial relations, afterwards fell on them treacherously and slew the chief Toraya and all his companions. (Malinowski 1922: 291)

Thus, "The stranger who cannot speak the language is to all savage tribesmen a natural enemy." (PC 4.2) because there is an actual risk of violence from the strangers who do not speak the same language among the inhabitants of various islands.

This, the 'old talk,' the body of ancient tradition, believed to be true, consists on the one hand of historical tales, such as the deeds of past chiefs, exploits in the Koya, stories of shipwreck, etc. On the other hand, the libogwo class also contains what the natives call lili'u - myths, narratives, deeply believed by them, held by them in reverence, and exercising an active influence on their conduct and tribal life. (Malinowski 1922: 299)

When re-reading "Primitive Speech", keep closer watch on the role of narrative, particularly myth and the setting in which it is reconuted, as earlier this was put into a phatic context (around campfire). The relevant question being if the content of the talk is listened to with slightly veiled impatience because it is this "old talk".

The great moral philosopher was wrong when he formulated his categorical imperative, which was to serve human beings as a fundamental guiding principle of behaviour. In advising us to act so that our behaviour might be taken as a norm of universal law, he reversed the natural state of things. The real rule guiding human behaviour is this: "what everyone else does, what appears as norm of general conduct, this is right, moral and proper. Let me look over the fence and see what my neighbour does, and take it as a rule for my [|] behaviour." So acts every 'man-in-the-street' in our own society, so has acted the average member of any society through the past ages, and so acts the present-day savage; and the lower his level of cultural develpment, the greater stickler he will be for good manners, propriety and form, and the more incomprehensive and odious to him will be the non-conforming point of view. Systems of social philosophy have been built to explain and interpret or misinterpret this general principle. Tarde's 'Imitation,' Giddings' 'Consciousness of Kind,' Durkheim's 'Collective Ideas,' and many such conceptions as 'social consciousness,' 'the soul of a nation,' 'group mind' or now-a-days prevalent and highly fashionable ideas about 'suggestibility of the crowd,' 'the instinct of herd,' etc., etc., try to cover this simple empirical truth. Most of these systems, especially those evaking the Phantom of Collective Soul are futile, to my mind, in so far as they try to explain in the terms of a hypothesis that which is most fundamental in sociology, and can therefore be reduced to nothing else, but must be simply recognised and accepted as the basis of our science. To frame verbal definitions and quibble over terms does not seem to bring us much more forward in a new branch of learning, where a knowledge of facts is above all needed. (Malinowski 1922: 326-327)

Unexpectedly he dives into philosophy and brings up the very same objection to collective consciousness present in his 1913 review of Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. I have made plans to read Giddings but now it appears that I also have to look into Tarde. Note that the topic under criticism here is the very same that is celebrated by the likes of Sapir and Jespersen on purely linguistic grounds. It might be fun to see how Malinowski's opinionated outbursts on this topic fare with more poetic and grandiloquent statements of the aferomentioned linguists.

It seems absurd, from the rational point of view, that the natives, who know that they are expected, indeed, who have been invited to come, should yet feel uncertain about the good will of their partners, with whom they have so often traded, whom they have received in visit, and themselves visited and re-visited again and again. Coming on a customary and peaceful errand, why should they have any apprehension of danger, and develop a special magical apparatus to meet the natives of Dobu? This is a logical way of reasoning, but custom is not logical, and the emotional attituhe of man has a greater sway over custom than has reason. The main attitude of a native to other, alien groups is that of hostility and mistrust. The fact that to a native every stranger is an enemy, is an ethnographic feature reported from all parts of the world. The Trobriander is not an exception in this respect, and beyond his own, narrow social horizon, a wall of suspicion, misunderstanding and latent enmity divides him from even near neighbours. The Kula breaks it through at definite geographical points, and by means of special customary transactions. (Malinowski 1922: 345)

A lengthier and more elaborate statement to the effect that "The stranger who cannot speak the language is to all savage tribesmen a natural enemy." (PC 4.2)

Returning in the dark, my boys suddenly grew alert and excited, like hounds picking up a scent. I could perceive nothing in the dark, but they had discerned two canoes moving westward. Within about half-an-hour, a fire became visible, twinkling on the beach of a small, deserted island South of Domdom; evidently some Dobuans were camping there. The excitement and intense interest shown by my boys, one a Dobuan, the other from Sariba (Southern Massim), gave me an inkling of the magnitude of this event - the vanguard of a big Kula fleet slowly creeping up towards one of its intermediate halting places. It also brought home to me vividly the inter-tribal character of this institution, which unites in common and strongly emotional interest so many scattered communities. (Malinowski 1922: 383)

By what I've read thus far the kula does appear to function like PC on a much grander scale. Malinowski's own discussion about the objective worthlessness of kula valuables aids in this interpretation, giving off the distinct impression that the true value of the whole tradition is to form peaceful inter-tribal connections that are periodically re-vivified through these gifts.

Thus, in what is most essential to man, that is in his health and bodily welfare, he is but a plaything of the powers of sorcery, of evil spirits and of certain beings, controlled by black magic. (Malinowski 1922: 393)

Phraseology for discussing the Estonian "Tere" (greeting), which is a well-wishing expression to the effect of "good health" (notice, too, that the word terve, literally "whole", also touches upon bodily welfare in its connotation).

The main social interests, ambition in gardening, ambition in successful Kula, vanity and display of personal charms in dancing - all find their expression in magic. (Malinowski 1922: 394)

Aren't "social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5) due to "personal charms", making PC a variety of such display?

In the course of collecting information, of discussing formulæ and translating their text, a considerable number of opinions on matters of detail will be set forth by the natives. Such spontaneous opinions, if placed in a correctly constructed mosaic, might almost of themselves give us a true picture, might almost cover the whole field of native belief. And then our task would only be to summarise this picture in an abstract formula. (Malinowski 1922: 396)

Phraseological finding. In my recent readings have, in the main, been surrounding PC to the extent that I suspect some sources were consulted by Malinowski. But the ultimate result, a contextual approach to the origin of phatic communion, must eventually turn out as a sort of mosaic, for not all of his sources can be consulted as thoroughly as one would wish (his sparse citations and references make this a challenge). How "correct" my ultimate construction will be seems at this point - considering the amount of data - heavily at stake.

The mind, nanola, by which term intelligence, power of discernment, capacity for learning magical formulæ, and all forms of non-manual skill are described, as well as moral qualities, resides somewhere in the larynx. The natives will always point to the organs of speech, where the nanola resides. The man who cannot speak through any defect [|] of his organs, is identified in name (tonagowa) and in treatment with all those mentally deficient. The memory, however, the store of formulæ and traditions learned by heart, resider deeper, in the belly. A man will be said to have a good nanola, when he can acquire many formulæ, but though they enter through the larynx, naturally, as he learns them, repeating word for word, he has to stow them away in a bigger and more commodious receptacle; they sink down right to the bottom of his abdomen. (Malinowski 1922: 408-409)

The "power of discrimination" here reminds me of E. R. Clay's definition of the working of the mind as discernment, "the mind's embrace of an object" (which he rather carefully distinguishes from "discrimination" pure and simple). As to the connection between intelligence and organs of speech, I'm reminded of Jespersen's harsh objections towards these "organs" (which came across as pernicious as Malinowski's objections, in this book, to the museum designation of ritual objects as "ceremonial" - a technical quibble by the looks of it).

But, as the moral ideas and rules prevalent in society, though not codified, can be found out by analysing human behaviour; as we reach the underlying principles of law and social propriety by examining custom and manners; as in the study of rites, we see some definite tenets of belief and dogmas - so, in analysing the direct verbal expressions of certain modes of thinking in the magical formulæ, we are justified in assuming that these modes of thinking must have somehow guided those who shaped them. (Malinowski 1922: 428)

Define:propriety - "conformity to conventionally accepted standards of behaviour or morals"; "the details or rules of behaviour conventionally considered to be correct".

Magic is not built up in the narrative style; it does not serve to communicate ideas from one person to another; it does not purport to contain a consecutive, consistent meaning. It is an instrument serving special purposes, intended for the exercise of man's specific power over things, and its meaning, giving this word a wider sense, can be understood only in correlation to this aim. (Malinowski 1922: 432)

Parallels with PC: "does not serve any purpose of communicating ideas" (PC 9.1) and "a function to which the meaning of its words is almost completely irrelevant" (PC 1.4).

Yoba, the 'expulsion,' the 'command to go,' stands in a category of its own. People are yoba'd, expelled from communities in certain circumstances, and a man would never dream of remaining, when thus treated. Therefore the words in this spell possess a force due to social sanctions of native custom. (Malinowski 1922: 443)

Reminiscent of the Pidgin English "wailo, or wylo, which is probably from away; it means 'go away, away with you! go, depart, gone.'" (Jespersen 1922: 223) - in this I am collecting lexical items for a treatment of "minus-phatics" (phatic violence?).

I may add that this interference, inflicted for no comprehensive purposes, except if it be an exceedingly parochial and narrow-minded application of our sense of morality and propriety, has no legal basis whatever in the regulations of that Colony, and could not be justified either formally or on account of any results it may produce. Indeed, the undermining of old-established authority, of tribal morals and customs tends on the one hand completely to demoralise the natives and to make them unamenable to any law or rule, while on the other hand, by destroying the whole fabric of tribal life, it deprives them of many of their most cherished diversions, ways of enjoying life, and social pleasures. Now once you make life unattractive for a man, whether savage or civilised, you cut the taproot of his vitality. The rapid dying out of native races is, I am deeply convinced, due more to wanton interference with their pleasures and normal occupations, to the marring of their joy of life as they conceive it than to any other cause. (Malinowski 1922: 465)

This he writes about the illegalization of the institution of polygamy, which takes away the chief's source of power and wealth, and thus breaks down the whole traditional tribal system. As to my emphases, notice "social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5). In other words, PC itself is a "way of enjoying life" - "to enjoy each other's company" (PC 3.2).

There is among them neither any strong, psychological tendency to consistent thinking, nor are the local peculiarities and exceptions rubbed off by the influence of example or competition. (Malinowski 1922: 477)

"Exact meaning" again?

At this time, he was specially loquacious about the Kula, and associated customs, inspired as he was by the hope of re-visiting his old haunts, and by the admiration and reverence shown to him by his listeners, myself included. (Malinowski 1922: 483)

Another way of putting "social pleasure and self-enhancement".

At that time, I was able to obtain more information about the Kula, and that more easily and in a shorter while, than I had, with strenuous efforts, for months before. It is by taking advantage of such epochs, when the interest of the natives is centred round a certain subject, that ethnographic evidence can be collected in the easiest and most reliable manner. Natives will willingly state customs and rules, and they will also accurately and with interest follow up concrete cases. Here, for instance, they would trace the way in which a given pair of armshells had passed through the hands of several individuals, and was now supposed to have come round again to Kitawa - and in such a way one receives from the natives definite ethnographic documents, realities of thought, and details of belief, instead of forced artificial verbiage. (Malinowski 1922: 483)

Forced artificial verbiage is a piece of emulable phraseology for discussing the obligatory nature of "pure sociabilities" and the feeling, of some, of being pressured into inane chatter just because it is expected.

After all there is no value in isolated facts for science, however striking and novel they might seem in themselves. Genuine scientific research differs from mere curio-hunting in that the latter runs after the quaint, singular and freakish - the craving for the sensational and the mania of collecting providing its twofold stimulus. Science on the other hand has to analyse and classify facts in order to place them in an organic whole, to incorporate them in one of the systems in which it tries to group the various aspects of reality. (Malinowski 1922: 509)

The relevant question to ask at this point is whether PC is incorporated into a broader system (of functional linguistics, for example?) or whether it is merely another "curiosity shop". Sadly it seems to veer towards the latter, as PC is most frequently taken without its context in functional linguistics and incorporated into other systems as a standalone item (of curiosity, at that).

Thus the vaygu'a represent the most effective offering to be given to the spirits, through which they can be put into a pleasant state of mind; "to make their minds good," as the stereotyped phrase of the natives runs. (Malinowski 1922: 512)

Alternative phraseology for "a pleasant atmosphere of polite, social intercourse" (PC 9.4).

All these beliefs no doubt exist side by side, and they are all compatible with, and indeed express, the underlying emotional attitude; the comforting action of the valuables. It is applied to the dying as something full of good, as something exercising a pleasant action, soothing and fortifying at the same time. (Malinowski 1922: 513)

Alternative lexicology. Soothe: "gently calm (a person or their feelings)"; "reduce pain or discomfort in (a part of the body)"; "relieve or ease (pain)". Fortify: "provide (a place) with defensive works as protection against attack".

And we may be on the lookout for economic transactions, expressing a reverential, almost worshipping attitude towards the valuables exchanged or handled; implying a novel type of ownership, temporary, intermittent, and cumulative; involving a vast and complex social mechanism and systems of economic enterprises, by means of which it is carried out. (Malinowski 1922: 514)

The same adjectives could be employed, with justification, for describing PC in its relational aspect.

What interests me really in the study of the native is his outlook on things, his Weltanschauung, the breath of life and reality which he breathes and by which he lives. Every human culture gives its members a definite view of the world, a definite zest of life. In the roamings over human history, and over the surface of the earth, it is the possibility of seeing life and the world from the various angles, peculiar to each culture, that has always charmed me most, and inspired me with real desire to penetrate other cultures, to understand other types of life. (Malinowski 1922: 517)

Isn't this contrary to his sentiment, above, against the herd mentality and national character? Either he is being a contrarian for the sake of being a contrarian at those instances (when he is arguing against collective consciousness), or else there are finer distinctions to be drawn on the basis of these theoretical statements.


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