This interdisciplinary study investigates the relationship between culture, language and cognition based on the aspects of social structure, space and possession in Tonga, Polynesia. Grounded on extensive field research, Voelkel explores the subject from an anthropological as well as from a linguistic perspective. The book provides new insights into the language of respect, an honorific system which is deeply anchored in the societal hierarchy, spatial descriptions that are determined by socio-cultural and geocentric parameters, kinship terminology and possessive categories that perfectly express the system of social status inequalities among relatives. These examples impressively show that language is deeply anchored in its cultural context. Moreover, the linguistic structures reflect the underlying cognitive frame of its speakers. Just as several cultural practices (sitting order, access to land and gift exchange processes) the linguistic means are not only expressions of stratified social networks but also tools to maintain or negotiate the underlying socio-cultural system.
1. List of maps, figures and tables; 2. Acknowledgements; 3. Symbols and abbreviations; 4. Chapter 1. Introduction; 5. Part I. Anthropological issues; 6. Chapter 2. Social structure; 7. Chapter 3. Land and the symbolic meaning of space; 8. Chapter 4. Possession and gift exchange; 9. Chapter 5. Conclusion:: Connecting remarks on social structure, space and possession; 10. Photo illustrations; 11. Part II. Linguistic issues; 12. Chapter 6. Spatial descriptions; 13. Chapter 7. A- and O-possession; 14. Chapter 8. The language of respect; 15. Chapter 9. Conclusions; 16. References; 17. Appendix 1. Question catalogue of the Niutouan inquiry (in English and Tongan); 18. Appendix 2. Lists of A- and O-possessed semantic categories and single items in different Polynesian languages; 19. Appendix 3. List of A- and O-possessed semantic categories and single concrete nouns in Tongan according to Churchward (cf. 1953: 81-87); 20. Glossary of Tongan terms; 21. Index