Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/66

This page has been validated.
44
[ch.
Kinship and Marriage Connexion.

wife's mother's name; a man will not name his wife's brother, but he will name his wife's sister, she is nothing to him. A woman will not name, but does not avoid, her husband's father; she will on no account name her daughter's husband. Two people whose children have intermarried, who are gasala, will not name each other. The reserve with regard to the name extends to the use of it, or of any part of it, in common conversation. A man on one occasion spoke to me of his house as a shed, and when that was not understood, went and touched it with his hand to shew what he meant; a difficulty being still made, he looked round to be sure that no one was near and whispered, not the name of his son's wife, but the respectful substitute for her name, amen Mulegona, she who was with his son, and whose name was Tawurima, Hind-house[1]. Thus, referring to the Mota pedigree given on page 38, Leveveg could not use the common words mate, to die, or qoe, pig, because of his son-in-law Matevagqoe; Virsal could not use the common words panei, hand, or tutun, hot, because of his wife's brother's name, or even the numeral tuwale, one, because of his wife's cousin's name. To meet the difficulty caused by this limitation of vocabulary, a word may be used improperly like paito, shed, for ima, house; or a knife may be called a cutter and a bow a shooter; but there is a stock of words kept in use for this very purpose, to use which instead of the common words is called to un. Thus the un words used in the cases mentioned above would be karwae for qoe, saproro for mate, lima for panei, val for tuwale[2]. This avoidance of the person and of the name is ascribed by the natives themselves to a feeling of shyness and respect, a certain inward trembling

  1. The word amaia, with him, is used not only for a wife's name but in place of 'his wife'; nan amaia wa, then said his wife. In the case referred to, Tawurima, the name of the daughter-in-law, contains the word ima, house. The father of Tawurima, again, could not use the common word for to go, mule, because it is part of her husband's name, Mulegona.
  2. These un words are particularly valuable, because they often shew a connexion with other languages which does not appear in more common words. Words are not invented for this purpose; words are taken which lie comparatively unused in the language.