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 Post subject: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 28.10.2008, 02:01 
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It seems fairly common knowledge that speaking the names of the deceased in at least some aboriginal cultures is not to be done.

On the other hand, there's definitely disagreement out there about whether it's okay to write, type, or otherwise display their names.

I first noticed this when I was searching for the CD, Hard Tongue Didgeridoo. One site had the teacher's name partially blacked out on the album cover graphic. On the ididj forums, I see names routinely marked up with asterisks. While still other people seem to talk (or more appropriately "write") around the name entirely using descriptive phrases like Ben Hicks did recently when he said on his site that he was leaving for Australia because an old songman passed away. Barry Martin stated the exact opposite somewhere on his LA Outback site, saying explicitly that it's not okay to speak the name, but it's fine to write it.

It's probably best to err on the side of caution, but I'm still curious about the true nature of this taboo and what others have to say on the matter.

-Alec

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 28.10.2008, 08:39 
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I guess each tribe or each individual have their own opinion on the matter... a bit like wether or not Balandas or Women should play didjeridu. You'll get all the answers possible depending on who you ask.
Anyway, writting isn't part of Aboriginal old tradition, so for sure their must be no ancient traditionnal rule forbdding to write a name of a deceased.
On the other hand, if it does hurt even only a minority, then why do it ?
Pulling the didjeridu as a Balanda or as a Woman may be a deep need which you cannot stop like this, no matter if it hurts a minority.
But writting the name of a deceased can easily be avoided... so let's not writte them ;-)

Then there's the other problem : should one edit all messages/web-pages/book-pages talking about a living person who recently died ?

:?

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 28.10.2008, 08:41 
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Hey Alec,

It is the speaking of the name of the deceased that is forbidden. Technically there is no taboo on writing the name although it makes it easier not to speak said name if it's not written in it's entirety, hence the nicknames, allusions and asterisks.

Kyle


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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 28.10.2008, 08:50 
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See this thread: http://forum.serioussticks.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1065&hilit=deceased

You're never going to get a definitive answer on this. Opinions vary (as usual).

My take: it is definitely considered offensive by some Aboriginals to refer directly to recently deceased relatives and clan members. However, those who are likely to be offended seldom if ever visit sites like this, and if they do, they're savvy enough to realise that not everyone else in the world knows of their cultural tabus.

So in a nutshell, I'd say be appropriately sensitive if visiting Arnhem Land for example, but otherwise, just do what you feel to be right.

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 01.11.2008, 14:06 
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But writting the name of a deceased can easily be avoided... so let's not writte them ;-)


Whats the point? as John has alluded to I strongly suspect there are no yolgnu accesing this forum - So who's gonna get offended?

There are people out there whom take issue with non-yolgnu playing trad didj - where do you draw the line


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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 01.11.2008, 18:07 
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Paul wrote:
Quote:
But writting the name of a deceased can easily be avoided... so let's not writte them ;-)

Whats the point? as John has alluded to I strongly suspect there are no yolgnu accesing this forum - So who's gonna get offended?
There are people out there whom take issue with non-yolgnu playing trad didj - where do you draw the line


I draw the line (as I have said in my previous post) where things can easily be done and where there are harder to do.
And also where things seem lighter or a more serious matter.
Not to write the name of the deceased is easy and writting it might deeply hurt someone who reads it (you don't know if a Yolngu will or won't read !). Talking about death is a serious matter.
Not to play the didj' is nearly impossible for me. And despite what some (a few) Aboriginal elders think of Balandas playing, I don't consider this as a serious matter... We all (as humans... Aboriginals as well as us) have more serious things to consider around us...
That's where I draw the line.
Its only MY line...
:wink:

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 01.11.2008, 18:24 
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I draw the line (as I have said in my previous post) where things can easily be done and where there are harder to do.
And also where things seem lighter or a more serious matter.
Not to write the name of the deceased is easy and writting it might deeply hurt someone who reads it (you don't know if a Yolngu will or won't read !). Talking about death is a serious matter.
Not to play the didj' is nearly impossible for me. And despite what some (a few) Aboriginal elders think of Balandas playing, I don't consider this as a serious matter... We all (as humans... Aboriginals as well as us) have more serious things to consider around us...
That's where I draw the line.
Its only MY line...


I hear what your saying Ahaw - but is this forum of such importance that its ever going to be read by Yolgnu? And if yolgnu do access the web there are names of the deceased floating all over the place in cyberspace - On this forum in posts preceding someones death
Additionaly would a yolgnu person accesing the web not be savy to this?

I'm not out to try and be insensitive to anyones culture - this aint arnhemland, its cyberspace

Maybe I've got it wrong - Are people from the Yolgnu commnity accesing this type of forum?


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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 01.11.2008, 19:01 
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I think this becomes a very complex subject very quickly.

I agree that it's easy to not write someone's name so it's easy to exercise that aspect of respect for the deceased. Though I don't usually move my lips when I read, I do often try to sound out Yolngu words; not printing the name in full makes it harder to "accidentally" speak the name (but who's going to hear, right?) Death is unarguably the one universal issue we all face, Yolngu and Balanda alike, and not writing a Yolngu name is perhaps a reasonable way to show respect. So maybe we feel better for doing that. On the other hand, what are the chances of Yonlgu reciprocating that respect Balanda-style? It's often important for us to speak the names of the dead. Take for example the reading of the names of people who died in the Twin Tower collapse in New York.

Playing the didgeridoo (or the impossibility of not playing it) is a different matter. The ultimate commonality that death holds doesn't exist. Djalu says yes, come, come play, and others say no, it's forbidden. Well, fine, I'll play Djalu's didges then.

Looking at this general issue of what can't or shouldn't be done, if we were to abide by and respect everyone's taboos, restrictions, and no-nos, we would never do or accomplish anything.

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 01.11.2008, 19:31 
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Quote:
So maybe we feel better for doing that.


I think that may well be part of the issue DS

If it is highly unlikely anyone (who would for reasons related to their own culture) would read these names and find offense - For whom is it being done?

Quote:
Looking at this general issue of what can't or shouldn't be done, if we were to abide by and respect everyone's taboos, restrictions, and no-nos, we would never do or accomplish anything.


Very true


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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 04.11.2008, 18:36 
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I think DS has said it all better than I did :D

Paul wrote:
I hear what your saying Ahaw - but is this forum of such importance that its ever going to be read by Yolgnu?

Well, you seem to criticise those who put so much involvment into Yolngu (and Aboriginal in general) culture to the point of not writting the name of the deceased, and on the other hand you would consider that if ever a Yolngu would come here it would be such a great honour ? Strange... This forum talks about Yidakis, and in English... So I guess that there IS much more chances for a Yolngu to read some pages of this forum than to read pages from a traditionnal Provençal biniou forum.

Paul wrote:
And if yolgnu do access the web there are names of the deceased floating all over the place in cyberspace - On this forum in posts preceding someones death
Additionaly would a yolgnu person accesing the web not be savy to this?
I'm not out to try and be insensitive to anyones culture - this aint arnhemland, its cyberspace
Maybe I've got it wrong - Are people from the Yolgnu commnity accesing this type of forum?

I'd say that it's not because all the big industries throw their rubbish in the sea, as well as many individuals, than you should do the same, do you ?
Well, same for that matter ... it's not because some people throw names of the deceased (or because they don't edit names of recently deceased) that I'm gonna do the same.

On the other hand, I do agree that getting pecky on this is rather ridiculous for us, living on the other side of their world ! :wink:
And I'm not getting pecky, you can writte name of the deceased or not, it's your choice and I won't blame anyone for that.

DS > yes, saying the name of deceased is considered as giving them some honour in our world... but it's not a taboo-obligation :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 04.11.2008, 19:35 
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Quote:
Well, you seem to criticise those who put so much involvment into Yolngu (and Aboriginal in general) culture to the point of not writting the name of the deceased, and on the other hand you would consider that if ever a Yolngu would come here it would be such a great honour ? Strange...


I don't follow there Ahaw?

Whom am I criticising? Where have I stated it would be a great honour for a Yolgnu to visit this forum?

I just qestioned if there is any point in blanking out the names of the deceased if its not going to be read by an individual that would find it taboo

In terms of drawing analogys to companys throwing rubbish into the sea? I really don't see the parralell


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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 05.11.2008, 08:59 
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Nah never mind I was in a hurry and a bit pissed off for something different yesterday.

Just keep the part where I say that I just don't mind where's the "line" of the others on this subject.
An forget the rest (don't wanna get into sterile conflicts...)

Cheers.

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 Post subject: Re: The Names of the Deceased
PostPosted: 09.11.2008, 04:18 
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My thinking is more along the lines of Paul's. I once got criticized by a white person for supposedly violating this Aboriginal taboo by typing someones full name in a post. I defended my actions with the following argument: The name speaking taboo originated among the Aboriginal culture(s) long before contact with white civilization. As a pre-literate culture, the name taboo came about long before Aboriginals were exposed to the written word of westerners and certainly long before radio, TV and internet. I think Balanda should stop trying to emulate Aboriginal behaviors and quit trying to re-write the rules-- who the Hell decided it was a law that when posting on the net, one had to use fill-in-the-blanks like m*l**yn*-- again, this was a Balanda creation and it has little to do with Aboriginal reality. The taboo is much more simple-- it simply refers to Aboriginal kin speaking out loud the name of the deceased in front of certain kin relations-- nowhere that I've seen did this ancient practice include outsiders, and it certainly did not include rules for foreign languages and electronic media. I would argue that it is perfectly OK to write names in posts. On the other hand, when I'm in Arnhemland next time, I will be careful not to go around shouting names in certain people's presence.


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