Hunter Gatherer Research

‘Demand sharing’ and more subtle language choice etiquettes for resource sharing in Northern Australia

Hunter Gatherer Research (2017), 3, (3), 459–473.

Abstract

Alfred Howitt, a leading nineteenth-century original anthropologist of Australian Aboriginal people, contributed a detailed account of the sharing of cuts of game according to kinship categories among the Kurnai of Victoria. Other accounts followed in the late twentieth century, some attending to the verbal negotiation involved. A characterisation of these events became dominant: demand sharing in which a person demands a share with a justification in terms of a kinship link. This paper shows that such negotiation over meat sharing among the Gurindji is more indirect, with choice of language varieties sending a pragmatic message that bonds between local groups of people imply responsibilities to give and rights to receive. In so doing, the paper defends the approach to code-switching that emphasises group identity and rights and responsibilities.

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References

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Garde, M 2002. Social deixis in Bininj Kunwok conversation. PhD thesis. Brisbane: Unversity of Queensland. Google Scholar

Garde, M 2008. The pragmatics of rude jokes with grandad: joking relationships in Aboriginal Australia. Anthropological Forum 18(3):235–253. Google Scholar

Garde, M 2013. Culture, interaction and person reference in an Australian language: an ethnography of Bininj Gunwok communication. Amsterdam: John Benjamin. Google Scholar

Grierson, P 1903. The silent trade. Edinburgh: W Green. Google Scholar

Gumperz, J & Hernandez-Chavez, E 1969. Cognitive aspects of bilingual communication. Working Papers of the Language Behavior Research Laboratory 46. Berkeley: University of California. Google Scholar

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McConvell, P 1982. Neutralization and degree of respect in Gurindji. In Heath, J, Merlan, F & Rumsey, A (eds) The languages of kinship in Australia. Sydney: Oceania Linguistic Monograph 24:86–107. Google Scholar

McConvell, P 1988. Mix-im-up: Aboriginal code-switching, old and new. In Heller, M (ed) Codeswitching: anthropological and sociolinguistic perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter:97–124. Google Scholar

McConvell P 1994. Discourse frame analysis of code-switching. Paper presented at Network on code-switching and language contact, Summer School Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, 14–17 September 1994. Google Scholar

McConvell, P 2015. Archaeo-linguistic stratigraphy: dating technology and terminology in the Kimberley. Presented at ‘Kimberley points: an archaeology-linguistics workshop’. Australian National University. Google Scholar

Mushin, I 2010. Code-switching as an interactional resource in Garrwa/Kriol talk-ininteraction. Australian Journal of Linguistics 30(4):471–496. Google Scholar

Myers-Scotton, C 1995. Social motivations for code-switching: evidence from Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Google Scholar

Peterson, N 1993. Demand sharing: reciprocity and the pressure for generosity among foragers. American Anthropologist 95(4):860–874. Google Scholar

Peterson, N 1997. Demand sharing: sociobiology and the pressure for generosity among foragers. In Merlan, F, Morton, J & Rumsey, A (eds) Scholar and skeptic: Australian Aboriginal studies in honour of L.R. Hiatt. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press:171–190. Google Scholar

Stanner, WEH 1933. Ceremonial economics of the Mulluk Mulluk and Madngella tribes of the Daly River, North Australia. A preliminary paper. Oceania 4(2):156–175. Google Scholar

Stanner, WEH 1934. Ceremonial economics of the Mulluk Mulluk and Madngella tribes of the Daly River, North Australia. A preliminary paper (continued). Oceania 4(4):458–471. Google Scholar

Stroud, C 1992. The problem of intention and meaning in codeswitching. Text 12:127–155. Google Scholar

Testart, A 1987. Game sharing systems and kinship systems among hunter-gatherers. Man 22(2):287. Google Scholar

Vaughan, J 2018. Translanguaging and hybrid spaces: boundaries and beyond in North Central Arnhem Land. In Mazzaferro, G (ed) Translanguaging in everyday practice. Cham: Springer:125–148. Google Scholar

Ward, C 2016. A handful of sand: the Gurindji struggle, after the walk-off. Melbourne: Monash University. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 1999. Living on Mangetti: ‘Bushman’ autonomy and Namibian independence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 2017. Anthropology and the economy of sharing. Abingdon: Routledge. Google Scholar

Altman, J 1987. Hunter-gatherers today: an aboriginal economy in North Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Google Scholar

Altman, J 2011. A genealogy of ‘demand sharing’: from pure anthropology to public policy. In Musharbash, Y & Barber, M (eds) Ethnography & the production of anthropological knowledge: essays in honour of Nicolas Peterson. Canberra: ANU Press:187–200. Google Scholar

Berndt, RM & Berndt, CH 1987. End of an era: Aboriginal labour in the Northern Territory. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Google Scholar

Blundell, V & Layton, R 1978. Marriage, myth and models of exchange in the West Kimberleys. Mankind 11:321–345. Google Scholar

Brown, P & Levinson, S 1978. Universals of language usage: politeness phenomena. In Goody, EN (ed) Questions and politeness strategies in social interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Dawson, J 1881. Australian Aborigines: the languages and customs of several tribes of Aborigines in the western district of Victoria, Australia. Melbourne: George Robertson. Google Scholar

Douglas, WH 1977. Illustrated topical dictionary of the Western Desert language: Warburton Ranges dialect, Western Australia (Research and regional studies 11). Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. First published, Perth: United Aborigines Mission, 1959. Google Scholar

Fison, L & Howitt, A 1880. Kamilaroi and Kurnai. Melbourne: George Robertson. [Facsimile edition 1991, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.] Google Scholar

Garde, M 2002. Social deixis in Bininj Kunwok conversation. PhD thesis. Brisbane: Unversity of Queensland. Google Scholar

Garde, M 2008. The pragmatics of rude jokes with grandad: joking relationships in Aboriginal Australia. Anthropological Forum 18(3):235–253. Google Scholar

Garde, M 2013. Culture, interaction and person reference in an Australian language: an ethnography of Bininj Gunwok communication. Amsterdam: John Benjamin. Google Scholar

Grierson, P 1903. The silent trade. Edinburgh: W Green. Google Scholar

Gumperz, J & Hernandez-Chavez, E 1969. Cognitive aspects of bilingual communication. Working Papers of the Language Behavior Research Laboratory 46. Berkeley: University of California. Google Scholar

Hardy, F 1968. The unlucky Australians. Melbourne: Nelson. Google Scholar

Kijngayarri, Long J 1986. The Wave Hill strike. In Gurindji. Trans McConvell, P. In Hercus, L & Sutton, P (eds) This is what happened: historical narratives by Aborigines. Canberra: AIAS Press:305–311. Google Scholar

McConvell, P 1982. Neutralization and degree of respect in Gurindji. In Heath, J, Merlan, F & Rumsey, A (eds) The languages of kinship in Australia. Sydney: Oceania Linguistic Monograph 24:86–107. Google Scholar

McConvell, P 1988. Mix-im-up: Aboriginal code-switching, old and new. In Heller, M (ed) Codeswitching: anthropological and sociolinguistic perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter:97–124. Google Scholar

McConvell P 1994. Discourse frame analysis of code-switching. Paper presented at Network on code-switching and language contact, Summer School Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, 14–17 September 1994. Google Scholar

McConvell, P 2015. Archaeo-linguistic stratigraphy: dating technology and terminology in the Kimberley. Presented at ‘Kimberley points: an archaeology-linguistics workshop’. Australian National University. Google Scholar

Mushin, I 2010. Code-switching as an interactional resource in Garrwa/Kriol talk-ininteraction. Australian Journal of Linguistics 30(4):471–496. Google Scholar

Myers-Scotton, C 1995. Social motivations for code-switching: evidence from Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Google Scholar

Peterson, N 1993. Demand sharing: reciprocity and the pressure for generosity among foragers. American Anthropologist 95(4):860–874. Google Scholar

Peterson, N 1997. Demand sharing: sociobiology and the pressure for generosity among foragers. In Merlan, F, Morton, J & Rumsey, A (eds) Scholar and skeptic: Australian Aboriginal studies in honour of L.R. Hiatt. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press:171–190. Google Scholar

Stanner, WEH 1933. Ceremonial economics of the Mulluk Mulluk and Madngella tribes of the Daly River, North Australia. A preliminary paper. Oceania 4(2):156–175. Google Scholar

Stanner, WEH 1934. Ceremonial economics of the Mulluk Mulluk and Madngella tribes of the Daly River, North Australia. A preliminary paper (continued). Oceania 4(4):458–471. Google Scholar

Stroud, C 1992. The problem of intention and meaning in codeswitching. Text 12:127–155. Google Scholar

Testart, A 1987. Game sharing systems and kinship systems among hunter-gatherers. Man 22(2):287. Google Scholar

Vaughan, J 2018. Translanguaging and hybrid spaces: boundaries and beyond in North Central Arnhem Land. In Mazzaferro, G (ed) Translanguaging in everyday practice. Cham: Springer:125–148. Google Scholar

Ward, C 2016. A handful of sand: the Gurindji struggle, after the walk-off. Melbourne: Monash University. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 1999. Living on Mangetti: ‘Bushman’ autonomy and Namibian independence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 2017. Anthropology and the economy of sharing. Abingdon: Routledge. Google Scholar

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Author details

McConvell, Patrick