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© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. Window on Humanity Conrad Phillip Kottak Third Edition CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. Overview Nonhuman primate communication Nonverbal communication Structure of language Language, thought, and culture Sociolinguistics Historical linguistics
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Language –Humans primary means of communication –Transmitted through learning – part of enculturation –Based on arbitrary, learned associations between words and the things they stand for (symbols) –Only humans have the linguistic capacity to discuss the past and future, and to share their experiences with and benefit from the experiences ofothers –Anthropologists study language in its social/cultural context
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Nonhuman primate communication –Call Systems Limited number of sounds produced in response to specific stimuli (e.g., food or danger) Cannot be combined to produce new calls Vocal tract of apes not suitable for speech – Sign Language A few nonhuman primates have learned to use American Sign Language (ASL) Chimps and gorillas: rudimentary capacity for language
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Nonverbal communication –Kinesics – study of communication through body movements, stances, gestures, and facial expressions –Gestures, facial expressions, and body stances are shaped by culture –Prevalence and meaning of body movements, facial expressions, and gestures vary cross-culturally –Body movements communicate social differences
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Structure of language –Descriptive linguistics – scientific study of a spoken language Phonology – study of speech sounds; considers which sounds are present and significant in a given language Morphology – study of the forms in which sounds combine to form morphemes (words and their meaningful parts) Lexicon – a dictionary containing all of a languages morphemes and their meanings Syntax – arrangement and order of words in phrases and sentences
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Structure of language –Speech Sounds Phoneme – a sound contrast that makes a difference, that differentiates meaning Number of phonemes varies from language to language, as well as between dialects of a given language Phonetics – study of speech sounds in general, what people actually say in various languages Phonemics – studies only the significant sound contrasts (phonemes) of a given language
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Language, thought, and culture –Noam Chomsky: Human brain contains a limited set of rules for organizing language – universal grammar All languages have a common structural basis All humans have similar linguistic abilities and thought processes Supporting evidence for Chomskys arguments: –People can learn foreign languages –Words and ideas translate from one language to another –All creole languages share certain features, suggesting such languages are based on universal grammar
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Language, thought, and culture –Sapir-Whorf hypothesis Grammatical categories of particular languages lead their speakers to think in different ways Language shapesbut does not restrictthought However, cultural changes can produce changes in thought and language (contrary to Sapir-Whorf)
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Language, thought, and culture –Focal vocabulary Lexicon (vocabulary) influences perception Focal vocabulary – specialized sets of terms and distinctions that are particularly important to certain groups Vocabulary is the area of language that changes most readily
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Language, thought, and culture –Language, culture, and thought are interrelated –Changes in culture produce changes in language and thought –Cultural contrasts and changes affect lexical distinctions (e.g., peach vs. salmon) within semantic domains (e.g., color terminology) –Semantics – a languages meaning system –Lexical contrasts that people perceive as meaningful or significant reflect their experiences
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Sociolinguistics –Sociolinguistics – relationships between social and linguistic variation –Linguistic diversity within nation-states Ethnic diversity is mirrored by linguistic diversity All people style shift – vary their speech in different social contexts Diglossia – regular shifting between dialects (e.g., high and low variants of a language)
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Sociolinguistics –Linguistic diversity within nation-states Different dialects are equally effective as systems of communication –Particular dialects are not linguistically superior or inferior to others –Speech patterns are considered better or worse because they are associated with socially ranked groups
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Sociolinguistics –Gender speech contrasts Differences between men and women – phonology, grammar, vocabulary, body stances and movements American womens use of certain types of words and expressions reflects lesser power in society Tannens studies: –Women typically use language and associated body movements to build rapport, social connections –Men tend to recite information that serves to establish a place for themselves in a hierarchy
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Sociolinguistics –Stratification and symbolic domination People use and evaluate speech in the context of social, political, and economic forces Speech of low-status groups may be evaluated negatively because it has come to symbolize low status Proper language is a strategic resource – increased access to wealth, prestige, and power
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Sociolinguistics –Stratification and symbolic domination Bourdieu: –Linguistic practices as symbolic capital –Symbolic domination – acceptance of the authority and correctness of a prestigious dialect, even by people who do not use it
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Sociolinguistics –Black English Vernacular (BEV) Stigmatized speech may be linked to region, class, educational background, gender, ethnicity, or race Most linguists view BEV as a dialect of American English Complex linguistic system with its own phonology and syntax May stem from an early creole (fusion of English and African languages) Clear phonological and grammatical differences between BEV and Standard English (SE) SE is the prestige dialect, but is not superior to BEV
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Historical linguistics –Study of long-term linguistic change Features of past languages are reconstructed by studying contemporary daughter languages (those that descend from the same parent language, or protolanguage) Languages are classified according to their degree of relationship Subgroups – languages within a taxonomy of related languages that are most closely related
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All right reserved. CHAPTER 10 Language and Communication Historical linguistics –Close relationship between languages does not necessarily mean that their speakers are closely related biologically or culturally –Anthropologists are interested in historical linguistics because cultural features sometimes correlate with the distribution of language families
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