Difference between revisions of "Taboo"

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Revision as of 12:11, 25 March 2011

A taboo is a social rule embedded in a culture that serves to guard against activities that are considered harmful or detrimental to the culture. A taboo tends to be unspoken and region specific. It is sometimes indicator of someone who is foreign to the region they are in.
The value of a taboo can probably be assigned to behaviors that are considered colloquial or provincial. Most taboos tend to bring with it a form of punishment for breaking one, though the punishment can often be as subtle as the taboo itself.

The term can be used as an adjective,adverb which can describe multiple or single. As a noun it describes a single instance.

Safety Taboo

Since a Taboo can incur a punishement, it probably can't be viewed as completely altruistic. Nevertheless, a taboo can exist as a way to protect and/or create a level of safety. Sometimes a taboo exists first, which is followed up and reinforced by law. A taboo can therefore be considered noble to a particular culture. Characteristics of an altruistic taboo can include:

  • Personal assault
  • Theft
  • Deceit and/or misrepresentation
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping

Provincial Taboo

Though, by definition a taboo is defined by the region it exists. There are times when a taboo serves to define and/or identify those unfamiliar or foreign. It is possibly, a tribal defense mechanism, since ignorance can often be the original cause of injury or conflict. Unfortunately, a provincial taboo be so esoteric and abstract that no clear reason can justify its existence. Characteristics of a provincial taboo can include:

  • Pronunciation of local geography
  • Forms of greeting and social engagement
  • Clothing
  • Religious and political beliefs
  • Criticism and censorship
  • Visibility of race and/or identifiable ethnicity.

Portland Taboos

Animosity toward racial minority Unfortunately, Portland is not immune to common taboos fueled by racism. Taboos about race tend to follow mainstream nationwide taboos. Negative activities fueled by a anger or hatred between one race and another tend to occur most frequently with African American and darker complexioned ethnicity. As is often the case, the imbalance innate to being a minority, creates an allowance for minorities to have animosity to the majority. This ability for a minority to appear racist, if it remains subtle, can be allowed.

Foreign Origins
Another taboo unfortunately pervasive in Portland as a natural animosity toward those who do not originate from Portland or the state of Oregon. It is a difficult taboo to overcome since by definition it is impossible for someone who is foreign to over come it. The only bandage to this is to not appear foreign, to conform to native appearances and behaviors. While there is a general distaste for those not from Portland, there does exist a small set of origins that are hated more. They often fueled by some kind of scewed justification. Some include:

  • Californians (excuse: because they are taking jobs from locals, and increasing realestate costs)
  • Seattle (excuse: because they want to make Portland like Seattle)

Mispronunciation of Local geography On of the more troublesome type of taboo, since there is no clear or helpful way for a foreigner to learn without breaking it. It is also tied to the Foreign Origin taboo, and causes the same kind of punishment. The following is a list of common mispronunciations with their correct pronunciations

Geographical Name Proper Pronunciation Mispronunciation
Oregon OR-gen OR-A-gon or OR-EE-Gon
Couch Street COOCH Street Cowch Street
Sauvie Island SOH-vee Island or SAH-vee Island SOW-vee Island
Deschutes duh-SHOOTS DESS-shoots
Glisan Street GLEE-son Street GLIS-sen Street
Willamette River Will-AM-et River WILLA-met River
City of The Dalles City of the DALZ City of the Dallas
Coquille River co-KEEL River CO-quill River
Town of Scio Town of SY-oh Town of See-OH
Town of Tualatin Town of Too-ALL-uh-tin Town of Tool-UH-tin

For more terms including regional pronunciations in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington see Steven Sauke's Northwest Pronunciation Guide