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Worlded object and its presentation: A Māori philosophy of language

Carl Mika


In an era concerned with the survival of Indigenous languages, language as a general phenomenon needs to be thought of as thoroughly connected to one’s worldview. In this article, I propose a different conception of language that sides more with what I call ‘the worlding of things’ than linguistics. To foreshadow my speculations on language, I consider the possibility that, within the representation of one entity in perception, there exist all other entities. An entity is hence ‘worlded’—a key aspect of the term ‘whakapapa’. I then turn to think about language as a general phenomenon for Māori, and its complex ability to world an entity even as it adumbrates that thing’s backdrop. I consider the verb ‘to be’ in that light, arguing that Māori identify language as a sort of gathering of entities rather than an instrument for singling out one thing as thoroughly and separably evident. This article is therefore as much about the full participation of the world as it is about language; it also aims to counter the belief that language is merely a conveyor of ideas.

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