SV: query: taboo against 3 people in picture
gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Wed Feb 22 12:37:25 UTC 2012
Yes, even Indonesian has similar expressions. However, in the case of
'three is a crowd' and such, I think the implicature is clearly that
four (and above) would be even worse, whereas in the case of the
3-people-in-picture taboo, a common way of solving the problem is to
invite an additional person into the picture -- the taboo is
specifically for three.
> Dear David,
> Hailing from a different part of the world, your query made me think of such phrases as 'Three is a crowd' and 'Ménage á trois', which suggest that three is one too many.
> -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
> Från: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] För David Gil
> Skickat: den 22 februari 2012 13:14
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> Ämne: query: taboo against 3 people in picture
> Dear all,
> Apologies for posting a non-linguistic query, but I'm interested in checking whether the non-linguistic feature in question correlates with a particular linguistic area, so perhaps all you field linguists out there can contribute some of your experiences.
> In many parts of mainland and insular Southeast Asia stretching into New Guinea, there is a taboo against three people posing for a photo. One or two is fine, four, five and up is fine, but three is a no no. In some places the taboo is strong, while in others it's just something people joke about. Sometimes it is said that the person in the middle will meet misfortune or die.
> I have encountered this taboo in Cambodia, Sumatra, Borneo, Palawan, Luzon, Sulawesi, Maluku, and on a recent trip to the Baliem Valley in the Papuan highlands. (Though not in Java or the lesser Sunda isles.) The areal distribution suggests that the taboo must be older than the advent of photography, perhaps extending back to drawings and paintings; the antiquity of the taboo is further supported by its presence amongst the Papuan highland Dani, whose first contact with the outside world was only in the 1940s (and it seems implausible that they would have picked up the taboo since then).
> My question is: where else is such a taboo present? Are you familiar
> with it from any other parts of the world? I would greatly appreciate
> both positive and negative data (the latter always being harder to obtain reliably). I am particularly interested in delimiting the extent of the area listed above: does the taboo exist further east in New Guinea and into the Pacific? What about north into China, or west into South Asia?
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistics
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
> Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
> Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
> Webpage: http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/
Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
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