Course Description: This course provides anthropology majors with an introduction to the study of language in Linguistics and Anthropology. Throughout we will explore ways that linguistic anthropology complements biological, archeological and sociocultural anthropology. Anthropology as a discipline addresses the question of what it means to be human. Language, possessed by every human group of record, holds a special place in that study. The first part of the course will be devoted to studying those qualities of language that are universal and attributable to our human biological inheritance, and thus particularly relevant to biological anthropology. The second part of the course is devoted to ways that studying language gives us clues to historical change. This part is designed to complement the archeology quadrant of the four fields of anthropology. The third part of the course will be devoted to the ethnographic study of language use in particular contexts. Here our emphasis will shift to diversity in patterns of language use across different cultures and societies, as well as across different positions within the same society. We will explore questions such as: How does culture influences patterns of language use? How do people use language to create and maintain social and political realities? We will pay particular attention to the following issues: intercultural communication, the importance of narratives (stories) for how we understand ourselves and others, and the relationship between gender and language. An ethnographic approach to language complements the sociocultural quadrant of the four fields and yields insights into a broad array of contemporary social issues.
Professor: M. Eleanor Nevins
Office: AB 503