A cry and an outcry: Oplakvane (complaining) as a term for communication practice

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This study examined the term oplakvane in Bulgarian discourse. It refers to a communication practice–similar to complaining–and a range of associated cultural meanings for ways to construct a socio-economic and political reality. Data for this study included naturally occurring talk recorded during social events, interview responses from 50 participants, and a range of media postings from newspapers and online sources. These were examined through the lens of ethnography of communication and studies of terms for talk. By examining the term's context, potency, use, messages, meanings, and enactments, a larger cultural landscape is made available, illustrating how oplakvane not only describes negative talk, but references a communication ritual that serves to: (1) release the frustrations of everyday life, (2) celebrate and reinforce feelings of fate and despair, and (3) identify and locate a national Bulgarian character.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-323
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International and Intercultural Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was conducted at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nadezhda is a junior faculty in the Communication, Media, and Rhetoric discipline at University of Minnesota Morris, and her primary interests include ethnography of communication, language and social interaction, cultural communication, and identity studies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 National Communication Association.


  • Ethnography of communication
  • complaining
  • cultural communication
  • oplakvane
  • terms for talk


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