Quebec Studies

Speak of the Dead: Semantic Domination and Death Taboos in Québec and France

Quebec Studies (2016), 62, (1), 71–93.

Abstract

Mortuary linguistic products, such as obituaries, are carefully constructed using euphemism and metaphor to preserve cultural taboos on death and reinforce normative comprehensions of dying and grief. Because of the fundamentally metaphorical nature of both language and thought I argue that linguistic taboos not only reinforce social norms, but also place boundaries on our perceptions, conceptions, and reactions to the world in which we function. This study analyzes metaphorical phenomena in French language obituaries in Montreal and Paris in order to explore expressive, cultural, and conceptual gaps (or lack thereof) between Standard French and Québécois linguistic production and to examine the implications of these gaps in the comprehension and experience of dying and bereavement.

Access Token
£25.00

Armstrong, Nigel, and Tim Pooley. Social and Linguistic Change in European French. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Social and Linguistic Change in European French Google Scholar

Bazerman, Charles. Constructing Experience. Carbondale and Edwardsville, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994. Constructing Experience Google Scholar

Boltanski, Luc. On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation. London: Polity Press, 2011. On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation Google Scholar

Corradi Fiumari, Gemma. The Metaphoric Process: Connections between Language and Life. New York: Routledge, 1995. The Metaphoric Process: Connections between Language and Life Google Scholar

Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concept of Pollution and Taboo. New York: Routledge, 2002. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concept of Pollution and Taboo Google Scholar

Feldman, Jerome. From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of Language. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006. From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of Language Google Scholar

Fernández, E. C. “Linguistic Devices Coping with Death in Victorian Obituaries.” Revista alicantina de estudios ingleses 20 (2007): 7–21. Linguistic Devices Coping with Death in Victorian Obituaries Revista alicantina de estudios ingleses 20 7 21 Google Scholar

Fortun, Mike. Promising Genomics: Iceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2008. Promising Genomics: Iceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation Google Scholar

Gentner, Dedre, and Brian F. Bowdle. “Metaphor as Structure-Mapping.” The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. Ed. R. Gibbs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Metaphor as Structure-Mapping The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought Google Scholar

Gozzi, Raymond, Jr. The Power of Metaphor in the Age of Electronic Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc., 1999. The Power of Metaphor in the Age of Electronic Media Google Scholar

Green, James W. Beyond the Good Death. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Beyond the Good Death Google Scholar

Haviland, J. B. “Ideologies of Language: Some Reflections on Language and U.S. Law.” American Anthropologist, ns 105(4) (2003): 764–74. Ideologies of Language: Some Reflections on Language and U.S. Law American Anthropologist 105 764 74 Google Scholar

Haviland, J. B.. “Who Asked You, Condom Head?” Anthropological Quarterly 84.1 (2011): 235–64. Who Asked You, Condom Head? Anthropological Quarterly 84.1 235 64 Google Scholar

Hsu, Min-Tao, David L. Kuhn, and Mutsu Hsu. “A Single Leaf Orchid: Meaning of a Husband’s Death for Taiwanese Widows.” Ethos 30.4 (2003): 306–26. A Single Leaf Orchid: Meaning of a Husband’s Death for Taiwanese Widows Ethos 30.4 306 26 Google Scholar

Hume, Janice. Obituaries in American Culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000. Obituaries in American Culture Google Scholar

Japan National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. Population Statistics of Japan 2008. Cited in National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health, Global Health and Aging, NIH Publication no. 11-7737, October 2011. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/.../global_health_and_aging. Google Scholar

Jay, Timothy. “The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 4 (2009): 153. The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words Perspectives on Psychological Science 4 153 Google Scholar

Jay, Timothy. C. Caldwell-Harris, and K. King. “Recalling Taboo and Non-Taboo Words.” American Journal of Psychology 121.1 (2008): 83–103. Recalling Taboo and Non-Taboo Words American Journal of Psychology 121.1 83 103 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Keesing, Roger, and Jonathan Fifi’i. “Kwaio Word Tabooing in its Cultural Context.” Journal of Polynesian Society 78(2) (1969): 154–77. Kwaio Word Tabooing in its Cultural Context Journal of Polynesian Society 78 154 77 Google Scholar

Kövecses, Zoltán. The Language of Love. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 1988. The Language of Love Google Scholar

Keesing, Roger, and Jonathan Fifi’i. Language, Mind and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Language, Mind and Culture Google Scholar

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: Scribner, 1969. On Death and Dying Google Scholar

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors we Live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980. Metaphors we Live by Google Scholar

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh. New York: Basic Books, 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh Google Scholar

Marzol, I. C. “Coming Out of the Closet ‘Six Feet Under’: Textual Silences and the Social Construction of the Family Stage in the Obituary Genres.” Revista alicantina de estudies ingleses 19 (2006): 67–82. Coming Out of the Closet ‘Six Feet Under’: Textual Silences and the Social Construction of the Family Stage in the Obituary Genres Revista alicantina de estudies ingleses 19 67 82 Google Scholar

National Institute on Aging. “Trend 6: Changing Family Structure.” Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective. Last updated 7 October 2011. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/why-population-aging-matters-global-perspective/trend-6-changing-family-structure. Google Scholar

Orgad, Shani. Media Representation and the Global Imagination. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. Media Representation and the Global Imagination Google Scholar

Ramachandran, V. S. The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes us Human. New York: Norton, 2011. The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes us Human Google Scholar

Robben, Antonius C. G. M., ed. Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural Reader. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural Reader Google Scholar

Schon, D. A. “Generative Metaphor: A Perspective on Problem-Setting in Social Policy.” In Metaphor and Thought. Ed. A. Ortony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 137–63. Generative Metaphor: A Perspective on Problem-Setting in Social Policy Metaphor and Thought 137 63 Google Scholar

Seale, Clive. “Heroic Death.” Sociology 29.4 (1995): 597–613. Heroic Death Sociology 29.4 597 613 Google Scholar

Searle, John R. “Metaphor.” Metaphor and Thought. Ed. A. Ortony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 83–111. Metaphor Metaphor and Thought 83 111 Google Scholar

Starck, Nigel. Life After Death: The Art of the Obituary. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2006. Life After Death: The Art of the Obituary Google Scholar

Turner, Victor. The Drums of Affliction: A Study of Ritual Processes among the Ndembu of Zambia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. The Drums of Affliction: A Study of Ritual Processes among the Ndembu of Zambia Google Scholar

Van Dijk, Teun A. “Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis.” Discourse and Society 4.2 (1993): 249–83. Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis Discourse and Society 4.2 249 83 Google Scholar

Vincent, Diane. Pressions et impressions sur les sacres au Québec. Montréal: Éditeur officiel du Québec, 1982. Pressions et impressions sur les sacres au Québec Google Scholar

Zuesse, Evan M. “Taboo and the Divine Order.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 42.3 (1974): 482–504. Taboo and the Divine Order Journal of the American Academy of Religion 42.3 482 504 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Black, A. D.