In this study of language socialization among the Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea, Bambi B. Schieffelin examines the everyday speech activities between children and members of their families, linking them to other social practices and symbolic forms such as exchange systems, gender roles, sibling relationships, rituals and myths. In Kaluli society, as in many others in Papua New Guinea, reciprocity plays a primary role in social life. In families, social relationships are constituted through giving and sharing food. Children, however, are also socialized through language to refuse to share, creating a tension in daily interactions. Issues of authority, autonomy and interdependence are negotiated through these verbal exchanges. Schieffelin demonstrates how language plays a fundamental role in the production, meaning and interpretation of these activities, as it is the medium of social practice. Through the micro-analysis of social interactions, Schieffelin shows how values regarding reciprocity, gender relations and language itself are indexed and socialized in everyday talk to children, and how children's own ways of speaking express fundamental cultural concerns about their social relationships.
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