Landscape unbounded: space, place, and orientation in not equal Akhoe Hai//om and beyond
SourceLanguage Sciences (Tokyo), 30, 2-3, (2008), pp. 362-380
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Language Sciences (Tokyo)
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
Even before it became a common place to assume that “the Eskimo have a hundred words for snow” the languages of hunting and gathering people have played an important role in debates about linguistic relativity concerning geographical ontologies. Evidence from languages of hunter-gatherers has been used in radical relativist challenges to the overall notion of a comparative typology of generic natural forms and landscapes as terms of reference. It has been invoked to emphasize a personalized relationship between humans and the non-human world. It is against this background that this contribution discusses the landscape terminology of ≠Akhoe Hai//om, a Khoisan language spoken by “Bushmen” in Namibia. Landscape vocabulary is ubiquitous in ≠Akhoe Hai//om due to the fact that the landscape plays a critical role in directionals and other forms of “topographical gossip” and due to merges between landscape and group terminology. This system of landscape-cum-group terminology is outlined and related to the use of place names in the area.
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