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One indicator of the degree to which the sexual and aggressive drives are interlinked in any sociocultural system is the extent to which sexual metaphors are used in verbal aggression.

In American usage metaphors of intercourse are constantly used in expressing aggression, so that you can conclude that one of the fundamental metaphors of American society is that SEXUAL INTERCOURSE IS AGGRESSION. This is illustrated in the phrases "screw you", "up yours", "fuck you" (see G. N. Appell 1987; Beneke 1982). But aggression is often mapped in turn by sexual terms, such as "I have been screwed!", "I feel like I have been raped!", etc. (see G. N. Appell 1987). Thus, there is a related metaphor in American society: AN AGGRESSIVE ACT MAY BE SEXUAL.

That these metaphors are not human universals is demonstrated by the use of abusive language among the Rungus. The concept of sexual intercourse is not used as a metaphor for aggression.

Rungus Forms of Verbal Abuse

Verbal expressions of aggression among the Rungus involve the mention of genitalia or the implication of death (see Table Two). These fall under the general rubric of monginsasana, "to anger", "to provoke".

In mentioning genitalia some forms of verbal abuse can be very aggressive. But these aggressive insults do not involve the concept of sexual intercourse as an aggressive act.6

In addition to mentioning genitalia, there is the very rare gesture in which a person extends his index finger downward and spits on it. This is a reference to one's penis being short. This is also a genitalia insult. There are no gestures which indicate sexual intercourse as an aggressive act.

Reference to another's genitalia uttered in anger, intentionally to insult, or to show disrespect are grounds for jural action. The person insulted can bring the matter to the village moot, and compensation for the insult is a piece of brassware. If the person so vilified returns the insult, this obviates jural action. This form of insult is classed as komolu'an, "to be shamed". It does not impute any physical impairment as does the next form of insult.

In the case of death insult, there is the fear that it may come to pass. To prevent this the person insulted can ask for a chicken in payment. The chicken is then sacrificed with prayer to remove the possibility of harm and the blood of the chicken is wiped on the ankle of the person affected.

In both instances of death implication and genitalia insult the abuse can be compounded and made more serious by including reference to a wounding (see Table 2; see kotiguras below). Also, rather than a statement of wounding or a threatened wounding, an individual can symbolically act out the wounding. For example, an individual may refer to a man's penis in anger while cutting a stick with a bush knife. This commingling of threat and insult requires a larger fine, involving both a chicken and brassware.

Terms for sexual intercourse occur in abusive language only in one instance, mongizut do ondu, "(you) get women to fuck!", "(you) induce women to fuck!" The sense of this phrase might also be indicated by translating it with American slang terms: "(you) lay women!", or "(you) make women!" There are no other terms in American English to indicate sufficiently the nature of this insult in which a man is imputed to be actively engaged in seeking out women for fornication.



1. Mongimbuhal : "To insult by reference to genitalia"

Toli nu! :

"Your penis!"a
  Ontolu nu! : "Your testicles!"
  Turoi nu! : "Your vagina!"
  Ondila nu! : "Your clitoris!"
  Mongizut do ondu! : "(You) get women to fuck!"
  Kinisan turoi nu! : "(I will) tear your vagina!"b
  Govilon turoi nu! : "(I will) rip out your vagina!"b
2. Mongolupu' : "To curse someone by saying or implying he is going to die"

Matai ko! :

"You are going to die!"
  Akanon do rogon! : "You will be eaten by the spirits!"
  Mindakud do kazu om aratu! : "Climb a tree and fall!" (All the various forms of death may be used.)
3. Mongimbuhal om Moniguras : "To insult by reference to genitalia and cause the ritual delict of a threatened wound"

Tibason toli nu! :

"Your penis will be slashed!"
  Tibason ku toli nu! : "Your penis will be slashed by me!"
  (All variations of genitalia and methods of cutting can be substituted.)

4. Mongolupu' om Moniguras :

"To curse by mentioning death and to cause the ritual delict of threatening to wound..,"
  Matai ko, tibason dikau! : "You are going to die, you will be slashed!"

a I have translated the Rungus terms for genitalia with the standard American English terms, not slang terms, as the same Rungus terms are used in standard Rungus as well as in environments of verbal abuse, with but the exception of mongizut (see text).

b We never heard of these two expletives during our original field work but only discovered them in 1990. I was told that these were old types of expletives and not recently devised. The term govilon is hard to translate. It also refers to the action of putting one's finger in another person's mouth and tearing away at the corner of it when fighting or wrestling.

Flynn in his analysis of insults cross-culturally remarks (1976:4): "In most cultures it is considered very insulting to accuse someone of engaging in unacceptable or deviant sexual behavior. The severity of the insult is usually related to the seriousness of the norms against the particular kind of sexual behavior that the insulted person is accused of." Thus, "You get women to fuck!" is indeed a powerful insult, the furthest that Rungus go in using intercourse as a form of insult. I shall be exploring the context of this most deviant of sexual behaviors and its implications to Rungus society in the rest of this study.

In conclusion, there is no form of insult involving the use of sexual intercourse as a metaphor for physical aggression towards another. This form of verbal aggression does not appear in the Rungus cognitive world. Nor are terms of sexual intercourse used to devalue another, with the one exception of "You get women to fuck!" Finally, aggressive acts are not described using any metaphors of sexual intercourse.

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