Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview
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solo in an informal setting, with few people present, the new songs are sung by the group, in the more formal context of the school, teaching unified group behavior, and memorization skills. While the old women's songs express a traditional attitude of relative sexual freedom, the subject matter of most of the new songs help reinforce the Western notion that sex is a taboo topic. The new songs were created with the conscious goal of teaching children about their language and culture as a contrastive unit to the more general Western, English-speaking curriculum that pervades the school in other subjects, while the old women's songs had no such aim, but simply express the language and culture directly without self-consciousness. New Hualapai values are also expressed in these songs: where the old women's songs are individual expressions of positive or negative feeling for another person, the new songs are expressive of Hualapai pride and social unity. The choice of song topics that express love of Hualapai land and history display and reinforce this group consciousness, as does the strict meter, which allows group singing and rhythmic unity.

This is not to say, of course, that the staff attempt to create Hualapai songs for the classroom was in any sense a failure. The songs serve the functions they are supposed to serve. But using traditional genres to serve all these functions turned out to be impossible; what was created instead was a new genre -- a new Hualapai song tradition for a new Hualapai culture that combines a European and Native American cultural heritage.


REFERENCES

Hinton, L. ( 1984). Havasupai songs: A linguistic perspective. Berlin: Gunther Narr.

Hinton, L. ( 1980). "Vocables in Havasupai song". In C. J. Frisbie (Ed.), Southwestern Indian ritual drama (pp. 275-306). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Hinton, L. ( 1992). "Songs without words". News from Native California, 6( 3), 34-36.

Lomax, A. ( 1968). Folk song style and culture. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Nettl, B. ( 1954). North American Indian musical styles. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society.

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