Chapter 4- Language

The study of language
Why is important the study of languages?
To learn how language is patterned and how it works, the history and development of language, and its relationship to other aspects of culture.
Descriptive Linguistics
The part of anthropological linguistics that focuses on the mechanics of language.
General study of the sounds used in human speech.
What is an example of phonology?
ă- fat, cat
ā- mate, ape
â- care, share
ä- car, are
The smallest unit of sound in speech that will indicate a difference in meaning.
What is an example of phoneme?
p (pit) and b (bit). The letters change the meaning of the word.
The smallest combination of sounds in human speech that carry a meaning.
Minimum units of meaning are combined
What is an example of morphology?
wash: wash(ed), wash(ing)
What is an example of syntax?
The young man carries the lady.
The lady carries the young man.
Historical Linguistics
The study of the history of languages including their development and relationships to other languages
What are examples of words that change over time?
Meat and mate were pronounced like mate is pronounced today. Later, meat changed to be pronounced like meet.
Field of study in linguistics that analyzes the relationship between and language and culture
What is an example of Ethnolinguistics?
In the Nuer culture, there are many words to describe cows.
Why the Nuer has some many different terms for cattle?
Cattle are a central aspect of their life since cows provide food in the form of blood, milk, and occasionally meat along as serving a link between dead ancestors.
Name the anthropologists who studied the Nuer in 1940.
Is the Nuer a pastoral society?
Where do the Nuer live?
East Africa
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
A hypothesis about the relationship between language and culture that states that language constructs perceptions
What is an example of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?
While English speakers see seven colors when they see a rainbow while the Nuer people have three names for colors- orange, red, and purple grouped under one word.
Why the Hopi see the world differently?
Hopi view things that in existence now and things that are in the process of becoming.
What does Whorf argue about this?
He believed the Hopi expressed verbs differently since they have no past or future tense.
Why Noam Chomsky does reject the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?
Believes that all humans are genetically endowed for language structure.
Subfield of linguistics that analyzes the relationship between language and culture within a focus on how people speak in social context.
What is an example of sociolinguistics?
When talking to a grandparent, you don’t speak in the same way you do when enjoying an evening out with peers or at a job interview.
Do you think that language is a marker of social class and stratification?
What does Trudgill study showed about this?
That parallel patterns of speech are used by different classes based on occupation, father’s occupation, education, and income.
African American Vernacular English
African American variety of American English that adapts to situational contexts like social factors, topics of conversation, and status relationships between people participating in conversations.
How does human language differ from the communication system of other animals?
Human communication is an open system while animals use call systems to communicate about objects and happenings.
The embedding of clauses and phrases in sentences.
The ability of humans to communicate symbolically about distant time and place.
What is an example of recursion?
In “The house that Jack built” each new character (the malt, the rat, the cat …) is described by a recursive adjectival clause that recaps all the previous action of the poem.
What is an example of displacement?
Experiences of the past.
Why is the human communication system an open system?
It has production (the creation, combination, or alteration of symbols) and displacement.
What do the studies of communication systems of other animals have shown?
Limited and unchanging numbers of vocal signals.
Silent Language
All of a culture’s nonverbal symbolic systems of communication, including kinesics and proxemics.
What is an example of a silent language?
1. Kinesics
2. Proxemics
3. Cultural time
The use of the body to communicate- gestures, posture, and facial expression.
The study of the use of space in communication.
Cultural Time
The use and treatment of time
How do Americans define their cultural time?
Five minutes in American time is fifteen minutes in Arab time. The American would feel that the Arab is rude for being so late.
Ritualized Phrases
Words and phrases may have meanings other than the formal, generally recognized ones.
What is an example of ritualized phrases?
“See you later” can literally mean to another culture that they will literally see you later.
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