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6764 - Semiotics and Anti-Semiotics in Mapuche Language Ideology

The starting point for this paper is the frequently-voiced assertion among rural Mapuche people in southern Chile that only the Mapuche language, Mapudungun, and not Spanish, should be used in ritual contexts. There are clearly a number of different reasons for such an assertion, some perhaps to do with the politics of identity and some perhaps to do with the nature of convention. A less obvious, but more fundamental reason, however, is revealed if we take into account Mapuche semiotic and linguistic ideologies. For whereas Spanish is seen as properly "semiotic," i.e. arbitrary, Mapudungun is understood to relate to the world in a direct, non-arbitrary way. In other words, while Spanish is understood as being properly "semiotic", Mapudungun is understood as being fundamentally "indexical", a point which has implications for both ritual and non-ritual uses of language. Through the exploration of Mapuche theories of semiotic and non-semiotic languages, I hope to cast light on bilingualism, poetics, and ritual language in Chile and elsewhere.

Keywords: Mapuche, semiotic ideology, language, ritual

Author: Course, Magnus (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)

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