Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
A’ãma mrémé, or a’ãma speech, spoken by incumbents of a special ceremonial role within central Brazilian A’uwẽ-Xavante society, illustrates Joel Sherzer’s argument regarding the centrality of speech play to both linguistic and social analysis. A’ãma mrémé is a ludic code variant, a system of lexical substitution primarily at the level of nouns and verbs, spoken exclusively by a’ãma. Morphological analysis of of a’ãma mrémé reveals the existence of conceptual categories and perceptions that are not otherwise linguistically transparent. Further, a’ãma, who indexically make their ceremonial identity and role salient through the everyday practice of ãma speech, add an additional layer of complexity to A’uwẽ-Xavante’s complicated dualistic system of social organization. This complexity, heretofore overlooked by anthropologists of A’uwẽ-Xavante, becomes apparent through attention to socially situated discourse and verbal arts. A’ãma mrémé enriches and adds complexity to understandings of A’uwẽ-Xavante language, thought, and social organization. It is, as Sherzer contends, a place where language, cognition, perception, worldview and social structure come together in distilled form.
Journal Article Version
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