Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
 by Shakila Shayan

Melanesian Kinship and Culture

Kin terminology structure and other social and cultural traits cluster in particular ways on a global level, such that “disharmonic” features can be interpreted as retentions of earlier systems, resulting from shifts in key aspects (such as a change from descent reckoning in the male line to the female line). We want to get at ancient patterns of social organisation and culture buried deep under a thick layer of Austronesian influence of much more recent origin. This can be done because in culture, as in language, features typically bundle in particular ways, and a mixed bouquet has a tale to tell. This task is designed to pick out any deviating features in particular societies to try and wrest from them their separate story of the distant past.


This Field Manual entry, and the accompanying materials, can be downloaded from the MPG Publication Repository:

How to cite this resource?

Lindström, E. (2004). Melanesian kinship and culture. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 9 (pp. 70-73). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.1552190.