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1 - Wolof in Senegal

from Part I - Ethnography

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2019

Susan Gal
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
Judith T. Irvine
Affiliation:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
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Summary

Based on ethnography and published sources, the chapter describes cultural themes constructing a key contrast between ranks within the “caste” traditions of Wolof society. Speech and other forms of conduct of “nobles” (géer) and “griots” (gewel) as ranked categories were constructed as differing between restraint and elaborated expressivity. Differences of speech style displayed and enacted the cultural contrasts. Local explanations attributed these differences to inherited bodily essences, said to define and motivate these person types. While categorizations and explanations depended on an ideology of caste, the ideological work they authorized went further. The differences between the noble and griot “castes” were recursively projected inward from caste categories onto lineage segments and individuals and outward onto categories such as ethnic groups. Some categories of personae, especially the descendants of “slaves,” were erased from this ideologized view. A historical section examines outward projections that situate rural distinctions within wider contexts: the salient urban/rural differences and townspeople’s ideological visions of other languages and nations.

Type
Chapter
Information
Signs of Difference
Language and Ideology in Social Life
, pp. 29 - 57
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Wolof in Senegal
  • Susan Gal, University of Chicago, Judith T. Irvine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Book: Signs of Difference
  • Online publication: 17 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108649209.002
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  • Wolof in Senegal
  • Susan Gal, University of Chicago, Judith T. Irvine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Book: Signs of Difference
  • Online publication: 17 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108649209.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Wolof in Senegal
  • Susan Gal, University of Chicago, Judith T. Irvine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Book: Signs of Difference
  • Online publication: 17 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108649209.002
Available formats
×