Allusive References and Other-Oriented Stance in an Affinal Avoidance Register

Alice Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
269 Downloads (Pure)


This paper analyzes the social-relational dynamics of in-law name avoidance in Datooga, a Nilotic language spoken in Tanzania. Datooga women avoid referring to their senior affines by birth name, while also avoiding words that “allusively” refer to these in-laws by sharing lexical or phonetic material with their names. These acts of name avoidance are conceptualized here in terms of stance: each instance of avoidance orients the speaker toward her affinal kin. The analysis of this unusual phenomenon emphasizes how speakers construct social relations in discourse not only with immediate speech participants but also with absent others, across time and space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-21
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • stance
  • name avoidance
  • person reference
  • East Africa

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