Publication details [#12612]

Donzelli, Aurora. 2007. Words on the lips and meanings in the stomach: Ideologies of unintelligibility and theories of metaphor in Toraja ritual speech. Text & Talk 27 (4) : 533–557. 25 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


It is widely proved how the fact of unintelligibility has its reflection in social life. The ambiguity within the field of Semantics could be used with different purposes such as: promotion of social cohesion (Atkinson 1984; Brenneis 1984); reproduction of hierarchical conceptions of knowledge and social stratification (Bloch 1975); or important devices for gender differentiation (Keenan [Ochs] 1974). In this paper, the existence of multiple ideologies of incoherence when dealing with the local ancestral language of the Toraja community. The exposure of this community to new languages and global topics such as money and people produces new sources of untelligibility which, as stated before, might be used by different social groups. The cited concept of unintelligibility, apparently based on conventional metaphors, has been accepted by the traditional culture as an attempt to preserve the social position. However, the new trend claimed by non-experts highlights the negative sense of unintelligibility understood as insincerity. That way, new forms of inclusion may be created based on ideologies where unintelligibility represents a positive semantic richness.