Chapter published in:Cultural Keywords in Discourse
Edited by Carsten Levisen and Sophia Waters
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 277] 2017
► pp. 83–106
Social keywords in postcolonial Melanesian discourse
Kastom ‘traditional culture’ and tumbuna ‘ancestors’
In postcolonial Melanesia, cultural discourses are increasingly organised around creole words, i.e. keywords of Bislama (Vanuatu) and Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea). These words constitute (or represent) important emerging ethnolinguistic worldviews, which are partly borne out of the colonial era, and partly out of postcolonial ethno-rhetoric. This chapter explores the word kastom ‘traditional culture’ in Bislama and pasin bilong tumbuna ‘the ways of the ancestors’ in Tok Pisin. Specific attention is paid to the shift from “negative “ to “positive” semantics, following from the re-evaluation of ancestral practices in postcolonial discourse. Social keywords in postcolonial discourse form a fertile ground for understanding how speakers in Melanesia conceptualise the past as a vital part of the present.
Keywords: Bislama semantics, Tok Pisin semantics, ethnolinguistics, postcolonial discourse, sociality, kastom , tumbuna
Published online: 19 October 2017
2005 “Ancestral vigilance and the corrective conscience in Kwaio: Kastom as culture in a Melanesian society.” In The Making of Global and Local Modernities in Melanesia: Humiliation, Transformation and the Nature of Cultural Change, ed. by Joel Robbins, and Holly Wardlow, 183–206. UK & USA: Ashgate Publishing Company.
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