LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL MEANING Cultural behaviour is not essentially different from other forms of learned behaviour; it is a consequence of the dynamic.
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LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL MEANING Cultural behaviour is not essentially different from other forms of learned behaviour; it is a consequence of the dynamic of social living over many generations, while individual members of the social system are replaced (Foley, 1997: 12)
Question How do members of different cultures express their worldviews? How do members of different cultures express events, experiences, and intentions through language? How do speakers express their way of being in the world through a particular use of their languages?
By the way a speaker frames intentions and activities through language Usage of contrasting words (Blue/white, good/bad) Grammatical forms (Example: the structuring of sentences)
The framing of intentions and activities English: I must go there. I make the horse run. Navajo: It is only good that I shall go. The horse is running for me.
Language expresses and reflects worldviews Cultural models: shared cultural attitudes (through language, gender relations, labour relations, etc.) Language: key for transmitting cultural models- Proverbs, stories, etc. -- conveying a way of being in the world --guiding human thought and action -- provides moral lessons
Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres Tell me who is your close friend and I will tell you who you are.
Concrete and symbolic meanings “The horse is running for me” concrete object (horse) “Don’t cry over spilt milk” symbolic meaning, metaphorical
Why do we study language? To identify cultural models Understand the relationship between language and environment Language and society
The Foundations of Linguistic Anthropology Edward Sapir (1884—1939) and his student Benjamin Whorf (1897—1941) Linguistic research among Native Americans Sapir: lexicon or vocabulary, Whorf: Grammatical structures
Edward Sapir physical environment and social environment through the use of language Elements of vocabulary influence speakers perceptions Different experience of our world The Paiute utilize unique words for valuable geographical locations
Sand flat, semicircular valley or hollow, spot for level ground in mountains surrounded by ridges.
Benjamin Whorf Influences on though and behaviour Grammatical structures of language Grammatical structure and conceptualization of time, number, duration
Whorf studies among the Hopi Time, number and duration fundamental for Hopi culture Hopi: Emphasis: continuity, cyclicity and intensity: English: Emphasis on boundedness and objectification Hopi: Morning, “While morning-phase is occurring”
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Language influences people’s perception of the world “Weak version” “Strong version”
Lexical and Cultural Categories Taxonomic systems: The classification system that orders things in a logical hierarchical way, a system that orders by indicating natural relationships Semantic domains: a summative of words (words put together). All sharing a core meaning, related to a specific topic Example: Kinship terms, body-parts words, or colours
Language expresses Cultural focus: cultural priorities Transformative Not static; changes over time
Summary Members of different cultures express different worldviews through a particular use of their languages (language frames) Cultural models are expressed and reflected primarily through language Proverb: “The early bird catches the worm.”