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5.1: Linguistic Anthropology

“It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection” – Edward Sapir

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Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) - Edward Sapir (1184-1939)

As implied from the quote above language and communication are key components of the human experience. Language can be one of the easiest ways to make connections with other people. It helps us quickly identify the groups to which we belong. It is how we convey information from one generation to the next. But language is only one way that humans communicate with one another. Non-verbal forms of communication are as important if not more so.  Linguistic anthropology is the sub-discipline that studies communication systems, particularly language. Using comparative analysis, linguistic anthropologists examine the interaction of language and culture. They look at the connection between language and thought and how it informs about social values and norms. Linguistic data has been used to examine worldview, migration patterns, origins of peoples, etc.

References

  1. Bilaniuk, Laada. “Anthropology, Linguistic.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. 1, edited by William A. Darity,Jr., p. 129-130. Detroit: Macmillian Reference, USA, 2008.
  2. Gezen, Lisa and Conrad Kottak. Culture. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014.
  3. Hughes, Geoffrey. “Euphemisms.” In An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-Speaking World, p. 151-153. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2006.
  4. Magga, Ole Henrik. “Diversity in Saami Terminology for Reindeer, Snow, and Ice.” International Social Science Journal 58, no. 187 (2006): 25-34. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2451.2006.00594.x
  5. Miller, Barbara. Cultural Anthropology, 6th edition. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011.
  6. O’Neil, Dennis. “Language and Culture: An Introduction to Human Communication.” Last updated July 2013. http://anthro.palomar.edu/language/Default.htm.
  7. Purdy, Elizabeth. “Ape Communication.” In Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Vol. 1, edited by H. James Birx, p. 214-215. ThousandOaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2006.
  8. School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics. “Language Varieties.” University of New England (Australia). Accessed April 29, 2015.http://www.hawaii.edu/satocenter/lan...ons/index.html.
  9. Sheppard, Mike. “Proxemics.” Last updated July 1996. http://www.cs.unm.edu/~sheppard/proxemics.htm.
  10. Solash, Richard. “Silent Extinction: Language Loss Reaches Crisis Levels.” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. Last updated April 29, 2015.http://www.rferl.org/content/Silent_...s/1963070.html.
  11. The Economist. “Tongue Twisters.” The Economist, December 19, 2009.