query: sarcastic antonymic nicknames

角田 太作 tsunoda at NINJAL.AC.JP
Mon Nov 30 10:11:29 UTC 2009

Dear Colleagues,
   I am posting the following on behalf of a colleague of mine who is not a
member of this list.

Tasaku Tsunoda

Dear David:

I would like to show you some examples of "antiphrasis" (term which I have
been using) in the Itbayat language spoken on the northernmost island of
Philippines (an Austronesian language).

Common noun

              ngarex: bolo, a kind of knife.  The literal meaning: "dull".
A bolo has a very sharp blade.
 Personal names
          ap'anniver:  The literal meaning: grandmother of fast walking or
quick behavior. But this woman is a slow worker and slow walker.
          apchilat: The literal meaning: grandmother of lightning
(accompanying thunder). But this woman behaves very slowly.
          aptangohngoh:  The literal meaning: grandfather who always holds
his head upward. But he droops / bends his head whenever he gets drunk.
          apteenek:  The literal meaning: grandfather who stands up and
leaves. But he is always slow in leaving someone else’s place (i.e. to stay
too long).  
          rakox:  The literal meaning: large, big. But he is a very short
fellow . 
  Note: Ap- at the initial position of the four personal names expresses
that they are already grandparents. Ap- is a prefix for habitonymy (my
coinage), the custom of naming the grandparents after their habits or
personal events (more or less 'negative meaning') known to the people around
when they have their           first grandchild, i.e. their first child’s
first child (regardless of its sex).  This kind of naming, together with
'teknonymy' is  vanishing, though.
          dompahavak:   The literal meaning:   half or small quantity of
water.  But there is actually always much amount of water flowing there.
          charatay: The literal meaning: lowland, plains, flat. But it is
the extraordinary steep place.
          kmayxaxo: The literal meaning: similar to triggerfishes (cheap
fishes). But it is the place you can catch high class of fishes near the
place (shore).


       Don't run and go slowly so than you may not stumble. This expresses
"Go quickly for your mission". The child of this speaker ran very fast for
his mission. This is uttered by his father in 1970's. I got very interested
in the way of communication.

Yukihiro YAMADA
Himeji Dokkyo University
Himeji, Japan

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