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Original scientific paper

The Mediation of Culture in Language: the Influence of the Culture of Honor on Everyday Life

Mojca Ramšak orcid id ; Odsjek za etnologiju i kulturnu antropologiju, Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Ljubljani

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Honor and shame are ideas that can be dealt with outside the ethics of virtues; they are generated morally, culturally, economically, indirectly and through religion. Even the knowledge of culturally incongruous, culturally specific or historical remnants of the forms of honor determines our current feeling of honor, which is why the notion of honor often involves different dimensions and perspectives. When we talk about honor in everyday life, we merge honor with other similar, although different concepts or consequences of honor. When attempting to define and describe honor, we use tropes, e.g. metaphors and metonymies. We try to hide our shame as much as possible, and we rarely call it by its real name. In special situations we use proverbs, moral or philosophical maxims, or other figures of speech in an attempt to achieve the strongest rhetorical impact or to indirectly influence someone’s opinion. In doing so, we rely on our feeling of honor; the very feeling that fails when people deviate from honor. Deviations from honor are the departures that we witness in the media descriptions of the famous and elsewhere in public life; all these are the forms of public honor and pathological ambition and violence towards the weak in the name of honor. Numerous relations between words appear in everyday life, referring to all instances of honor and shame. What is important is how the current social, cultural and historical moment influences the understanding of honor, especially in the light of human rights violation, limiting the rights of women, the separation of church and state, hate speech, violence and celebrating false honor. Referring to one’s honor is a matter of morality, symbolic capital, social relations and the principle of ineradicable equality among people, as determined by human rights documents.


honor, shame, metaphor, social capital, communication, identity, ethnology

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