Studying language like an anth 1


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ANTH 225-001
American University
Professor Nikki Lane

2009 Duranti, Alessandro. History, Ideas, Issues. Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader, 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

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  • 1. Name cards. Make one if you’ve not. Just go around and tell us your name, year, and tell us what you’re studying.2. I’m professor Lane. I’ll be your instructor. I’m a Ph.D candidate studying language, race, sexuality, and urban space.3. This is Ted Samuel, you’re TA. I’ll let him introduce himself.Now, I’d like to do a brief review of what we worked through last week, but since I wasn’t here, I have a few questions that I’d like to ask that I know were addressed last week.
  • In the context of the classroom for example, the relationships of power are already established before we get here. I’m the professor and you are the students. I’m in the position of power in the classroom and you are not. Now, there are several ways we could nuance that. I’m an African American woman and the way that many Black women in popular media are portrayed to act and speak is not how I speak, and act. Conversely, the way I speak in the classroom is based on assumptions about my authority as a teacher, about my ability to teach you, about my knowledge base and the ONLY means for me to communicate my knowledge, my intellect is in a dialect that is not the dialect that I grew up speaking, not the dialect that I speak with members of my family, certain people in my social group.Now that’s just one example, but I can’t think of one instance where this kind of analysis can’t be done. Where one cannot think about the context in which a speaker finds themselves that is not already imbued with a set of conventions prior to them getting there, and then where relationships of power particularly around race, gender, class, age, ability, and sexuality aren’t also playing a role in how that speaker is received and how that speaker performs their identity.
  • Photo credit. 2009. Daily Bruin.Alessandro Duranti is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA. His research projects have focused on the role of verbal and visual communication in political arenas, everyday life, and during music performance and rehearsals. Theoretically, he has been interested in agency, intentionality and intersubjectivity. Methodologically, he has favored participant-observation and audio-visual recordings of spontaneous interaction. His books include The Samoan Fono: A Sociolinguistic Study (Pacific Linguistics Monographs, 1981), From Grammar to Politics: Linguistic Anthropology in a Western Samoan Village (University of California Press, 1981), the textbook-treatise Linguistic Anthropology (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and a number of edited volumes, among which: Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon (co-edited with C. Goodwin, Cambridge 1992), A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology (Blackwell 2004) and Handbook of Language Socialization (co-edited with E. Ochs and B.B. Schieffelin, Wiley-Blackwell 2012). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the UCLA Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, and the American Anthropological Association/Mayfield Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.-- UCLA, <>
  • Linguistic anthropology according to Duranti is what?Linguistic anthropology is one of the four subfields of anthropology which include bio, archy, cultural and linguistic. The reason linguistic anthro
  • Cultural relativism holds that individuals understand their social context within the framework that they’ve grown up in; something that might be good in my culture, may be wrong in another. That’s okay. We just have different persepctives. Now when we think about that in relation to language we must understand that as an English speaker, I understand grammar, ways of putting words and ideas together in a very particular way. If I want to understand a cultural practice where another language is used, if I want to understand how the practioners of this cultural practice understand their world, then I must use their language and understand it in their own words before being able to make sense of it (as best I can) in my own language.
  • Studying language like an anth 1

    1. 1. Studying Language Like an Anthropologist Pt. 1 Plan for 9/5/13 1. Re-introductions 2. Review 3. Who is Alessandro Duranti? 4. What is Linguistic Anthropology? 5. Key Issues and Debates 6. Final Project and Project Proposals Anth 225-001 Class 3
    2. 2. Re-introductions
    3. 3. Review • What is language? • What is the connection between language and thought? • What is technostrategic language? • Cohn on language as a means of understanding
    4. 4. Good Question… Andrew’s question: Is there any way we can use language that doesn't in some way express a relationship of power?
    5. 5. Who is Alessandro Duranti? Pioneer in Linguistic Anthropology; wrote the treatise Linguistic Anthropology on the subject in 1997; among his most famous works is From Grammar to Politics: Linguistic Anthropology in a Western Somoan Village (UC Press, 1981)
    6. 6. What is Linguistic Anthropology? • “It is the understanding of the crucial role played by language (and other semiotic resources) in the constitution of society and its cultural representations” (Duranti 2009: 5). • It is an approach to the study of language that uses anthropological methods and insights; it places language at the center of inquiry about culture.
    7. 7. Methodological Points of Departure/Confluence Linguistic Anthropology • Ethnography • Spontaneous language use; informal language use • Co-constructed nature of human interaction and text formation • Data is often collected in ways that it could not be reproduced or for some ethical reasons shared. Sociolinguistic • Grammar • Interviews • Statistical models of language use based on independent variables such as generation, class, gend er, age, race
    8. 8. Linguistic Relativism • Researchers must speak the language and must work to understand concepts in the language under investigation, and should not attempt to force concepts into their native language for which there may be no concepts.
    9. 9. Speech Communities • Chompsky’s notion that there was an “Ideal speaker” of a language who spoke said language using all of the proper grammatical structures all the time. • Labov’s interest in understanding a metropolitan urban center as one speech community based on their shared norms of understanding variation • Gumperz’ attempts to understand why people who speak multiple languages or dialects shift from one to the next.
    10. 10. Language users as performers 1. Speakers adapt to situations, adapt situations to speech. 2. Every speaker does something specific with language in certain situations; while this might follow certain “rules,” there is still considerable flexibility and as agents, they are able to make change. 3. The way an individual speaks, those aethetic dimensions of their talk has social and political implications. 4. Audiences are crucial to the construction of messages.
    11. 11. Analyzing Language and Culture Connection 1. Start from linguistic forms 2. Start from cultural construct or social process
    12. 12. Project Proposals Key elements 1. Problem statement 2. Human Experience under investigation 3. Discussion of previous study 4. Methods for collecting data 5. Brief timeline 6. Grammar/Style/References