GRADUATE INTRODUCTION TO LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY
Instead of Blackboard, this course will utilize this webpage, along with e-mail, for syllabus, notices, and student support
This course is a graduate introduction to core concepts and methodologies that go with the
anthropological study of language, and to a sampling of books and articles that have helped
develop the field. It provides an overview of some key areas of current linguistic anthropological
research and a consideration of some important topics of past research. Topics covered include:
Language Structure and Function; Language and World View; Ethnosemantics;
Speech Socialization; Speech Play and Verbal Art; Language and Social Structure;
Ethnography of Speaking; Discourse and Semiotics; Language Change and Reconstruction;
Variation in Language and Speech; Nonverbal Communication (including Writing Systems,
Sign Language, Body Language);
No prior training in linguistics is assumed, presupposed, or required.
1) Class preparation and appropriate class participation (including reading articles, chapters,
and/or books; and being class facilitator for one or more class assignment discussions, depending
on the size of the class)
2) Three short papers based on projects assigned during the semester, due dates are on the syllabus,
(up to 10 pages each). One of them may be presented in the format of a research proposal rather
than as an ethnographic description and analysis. Some general suggestions for a research grant proposal
can be found here.
N. Bonvillain Language, Culture and Communication
[any edition – used copy can be gotten for reasonable price at Amazon, Half.com,
or Half Price books] (required)
B. Blount (ed.) Language, Culture, and Society [2nd Edition] (required)
K. Basso Portraits of "The Whiteman (required) [short book. Read in library,
or buy used for under $4.00]
R. Bauman and J. Sherzer, Explorations in the Ethnography of
Robin Tolmach Lakoff, Talking Power: The Politics of Language. (optional)
P.P. Giglioli, Language and Social Context (optional)
Assigned readings not in texts can be found in the PCL library, may be in digital form, and most are on reserve.
OUTLINE OF COURSE TOPICS AND READING ASSIGNMENTS
TOPICS Language, ethnography of speaking, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis,
semiotics, cognition, performance, verbal art, relativity and universals, variation
and change, acquisition of communicative competence, multilingualism,
language origins, language as mirror, etc. seeing the other
HOMEWORK (due for week 2): 1) read [and take notes for class discussion in week 2];
Bonvillain - Ch. 1,2 . Blount – Ch. 3 Sapir's "Language": Miner’s Body Ritual &
Bright on writing vs speech (internet sites).
TOPICS a) speech act components b) consonants and vowels (the IPA) c) phoneme 1,
phoneme 2, phoneme definition and phonemecisation problems d) Chontal segmentation
problem (may be distributed in week 3 instead).
HOMEWORK (due week 3)
3) read (for discussion in week #3): Blount - Boas "Introduction...",
Hymes, "the ethnography of speaking" (in Blount);
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Shaul&Furbee - Introduction, Chapter 1,
Chapter 2. Hymes - Part I. Haugen and Bloomfield – Moulton, Keenan.
Hockett "The origin of speech" (in Scientific American offprints).
Lounsbury "1OO years...". Stross, "The nature of language";
Finegan&Besnier - Ch 1&2. Farb – pp.1-8O. Trudgill, 13-33.
G. Urban, "Rhetoric of a war chief"; Sapir "Psychological Reality of the Phoneme"
(in Mandelbaum ed. Selected Writings of Edward Sapir 46-51).
Giglioli – Fishman, Hymes, Gumperz.))
Week 3 EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, RELATIVITY IN LANGUAGE [9/21] BRETT
a) phonemicisation problems II b) morpheme problems
c) morphophonemics inc. English plural. d) Tzeltal numbers
e. proverbs, refranes & dichos ;
Film: Do You Speak American: Up North
Homework (due week 4) 1) read and prepare to discuss markedness,
2) “Sapir-Whorf” problem (to be distributed in week 3);
3) Read (for discussion in week 4): Bonvillain Ch. 3.
Blount - Whorf "The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language".
Hoijer "The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis" ; Sapir "The unconscious patterning...".
Lucy "Whorf's view…"
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Hymes - Part II, Ferguson "Language
problems of variation and repertoire". Finegan&Besnier Ch. 3&4. Farb, 289-328.
Wang "The Chinese language" (in Scientific American offprints).
Giglioli - Goffman, Searle (pp. 61-66, 136-154) ))
class discussion: a) Sapir-Whorf hypothesis b) color terms c) markedness
d) deixis Film: Do You Speak American: Down South
Homework (to do for meeting of week 5): 1) Kinship problem (Burmese)
2) Bonvillain Ch. 4 .
3) Blount - Frake "The ethnographic study..."; Silverstein "Shifters..."
Special project # 1 (due Week 4) [repetition requests / pronominal metaphor / backchannel cues ]
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Shaul&Furbee – Chapters 3 and 4.
Giglioli – Schegloff. Hymes, Part III. Sapir, Language, chs. 3-5.
Berlin and Kay 1969, Basic Color Terms. Berlin and Berlin 1975.
"Aguaruna color categories" American Ethnologist 2:61-87; Kay, Berlin
and Merrifield "Biocultural implications..." in Blount;
Witkowski and Brown "An explanation of color nomenclature universals."
AA 79:5O-57. Lucy and Shweder (1979) "Whorf and his critics:...color
memory" AA 181:581-6O7.; Witkowski and Brown "Whorf and universals
of color nomenclature" JAR 38(1982):411-42O. Greenberg, Language Universals.
G.W. Grace 1988. The Linguistic Construction of Reality.))
G.A. Miller "the magical number seven, plus or minus two".
Farb, 191-213; Carroll (ed) Whorf LTR "Science and linguistics"
(2O7-219). Leach "Anthropological aspects of language: animal
categories and verbal abuse"; F&B Ch 5, 6. ))
class discussion: a) washing terms b) eating terms c) kinship terms d) pronouns
(Hanunoo, TZE) and componential analysis, e) plant taxonomies f) food
Film: Do You Speak American: Out West
Bonvillain - Chs. 5
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Hymes, Part IV. Farb, 214-23O;
Brown and Levinson in Goody 56-295. Lounsbury "the structural analysis of
kinship semantics"; Tyler pp. 28-59, 78-9O, 93-l36, l93-211, 255-3lO.
Hymes "On personal pronouns: 'fourth' person and phonesthematic
aspects" in Studies in Linguistics; In Honor Of George L. Trager,
(M.E. Smith, ed, pp. 1OO-121). Stross "Speaking of speaking".
Casson, The semantics of kin term usage..". Shaul&Furbee – Chapters 7 and 8
class discussion: a) ground rules for functioning communication
systems b) Grice's Maxims c) Goffmanology & presentation of self
Homework: Bonvillain Chs. 7, 8, 9 ; Blount Chs. 21, 23
Film: American Tongues
c) baby talk g) language acquisition studies d) indirection e) misdirection f) persuasion
(e.g. viral marketing – (Rumours , Chain letters with warnings , "Leaked" information ,
Gossip , Urban myths , Secondhand versions of official reports)
Homework (due week 8): read: Bonvillain – Ch. 10
Blount – 16 (Turner "Words, utterance..." ); 24 (Briggs and Bauman "Genre...")
K. Basso Portraits of "The Whiteman
to gossip". Goffman Presentation of Self….
Giglioli – 4, 5, 7, 8, 9. Hymes, Part V. Farb, 41-63.
M.F. Brown "The role of words in Aguaruna hunting magic" American Ethnologist
11:545-558. R. Brown A First Language. R. Brown "Development of the first language
in the human species" (in Haugen and Bloomfield). Haas, "Mens and
womens speech in Koasati". S. Feld Sound and Sentiment; F&B Ch. 15. ))
d) speech games (e.g. pig latin); e) cosmology and history in myth and legend.
f) humor in language g) gossip h) propaganda 1 i.) lies and disinformation
j) word play
Homework read (due weeks 9,10): 1) Bonvillain 6, 11
2) J. Hill's article on Mock Spanish (supplied by prof)
3) W. Labov's article on "Academic Ignorance" (supplied by prof)
Special project # 2 (due Week 8 [graffiti]
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Farb, 83-156; .Gossen "To speak with a
heated heart". Kirschenblatt-Gimblett Speech Play.
Cowan "Mazateco whistle speech". Shaul&Furbee - 9, 10 .
Basso "Wise words of the Western Apache"; J. Sherzer "Talking backwards in Cuna..."
SWJA 197O:343-453. J. Sherzer "Strategies in text and context." JAF 92:145-163.
Stross "The language of Zuyua". Dundes "Here I sit". Hymes, Part VI.
Irvine "Formality and informality in communicative events" AA 81:773-79O.
J. MacDowell Children's Riddling; F&B 10. W. Mieder, The Politics of Proverbs. ))
Class discussion: a) names b) multilingualism c) social dialects, aave/bev
f) networks g) language in media (So you want to join HTT /HTS)
Homework: 1) Blount - 15 (Ervin-Tripp "Sociolinguistics." );
14 (Gumperz "Linguistic and Social interaction in two communities" );
17 (Hill "The grammar of Consciousness…")
Homework (due week 11):
2) read: Bonvillain Ch. 12, 13
3) Blount - 19 (Hunn's "Ethnoecology…" )
4) Internet - M. Duke's article Writing Mazateco
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Giglioli 10, 11, 12, 13, (Part 4).
Sorenson "Multilingualism in the Northwest Amazon" AA 69(1967):67O-82.
Albert "Culture patterning of speech behavior in Burundi"
(in Gumperz and Hymes, Directions In Sociolinguistics).
Sherzer Kuna Ways Of Speaking. ; Hymes, Part VII.
Farb, 157-187. Trudgill, chs. 2,3,4,7. Hymes, "Speech and language...";
Salmond "Rituals of encounter". T. Gregor "exposure and seclusion..." Ethnology.
T. Gregor Mehinacu; F&B 12, 13 . ))
class discussion: a) comparative method b) reconstruction problems
Homework (due week 12): 1) comparative reconstruction problem
2) read: Blount - 10 (Berlin's "Speculations…") 20 (Kay et al's Biocultural implications…" ).
3) Bonvillain Ch. 12;
((Extra reading for those so inclined: Hockett "F". Labov "On the mechanism of linguistic
change". Kay "Language evolution and speech style" (in Sanches and Blount).
Kay "Synchronic variability and diachronic change in basic color terms".
Dozier "Two examples of linguistic acculturation". Sherzer "A problem in Cuna
phonology". Hymes, Part VIII. Farb, 331-367. Giglioli – 14, 15 (part. 5).
Thieme "The Indo-European language" (in Scientific American reprints).
C. Brown "Growth and development of folk botanical life-forms in the
Mayan language family". Stross "Reconstructed humor in a Tzeltal ritual formula".
Finegan&Besnier Ch. 14; Thieme "The comparative method for reconstruction in linguistics"
(in Hymes' reader); ))
class discussion a) internal reconstruction b) glottochronology c) paleography
Homework (due Week 13) - read: Bonvillain pp. 35-46.
Schmandt-Besserat "The earliest precursor of writing" (in Scientific American reprints);
Oliver Sacks "The president's speech".
Special Project # 3 (due Week 12) [occupational jargon / names ]
Extra reading for those so inclined: Hymes, part IX. Watkins (in Haugen and
Bloomfield). Greenberg, chs. 3, 6. Finegan&Besnier Ch. 9.
E. Sapir "Time perspective in aboriginal American culture" SWES pp. 389-462.
Gossen "Temporal and spatial equivalents in Chamula ritual symbolism".
E. Sapir "Internal evidence suggestive of the northern origin of the Navaho"
SWES, pp. 213-224. M. Swadesh, The Origin And Diversification of Language.
M. Swadesh "What is glottochronology", "linguistics as an instrument of
prehistory", "Diffusional cumulation and archaic residue as historical explanations".
class discussion: a) writing systems b) gesture and posture
c) developments in semiotics. d) pointing, gesture, spaces, and mental maps
((Extra reading for those so inclined: E.T. Hall, The Silent Language,
E.T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension; &/or Mark L. Knapp, Nonverbal Human
Communication. &/or Desmond Morris, Manwatching; I. Gelb A Study
of Writing. Giglioli – 4 Basso. C. Cherry, On Human Communication.
Benthall and Polhemus (eds.), The Body as a Medium of Expression; F&B
Ch. 11. Dundes "Seeing is believing". Farb, 231-247. Phillips in Cazden,
John, and Hymes (Functions of Speech in the Classroom). Marcus
"Zapotec writing" (in Scientific American reprints);))
Discourse Analysis - overview and discussions of various approaches to the topic by Stef Slembrouck (Belgium)
Useful supplementary Texts and Readers:
A. Duranti 1997. Linguistic Anthropology. ISBN 0 521 44993 6
D. Shaul and L. Furbee, 1998. Language and Culture.
E. Finegan and N. Besnier 1989. Language: Its Structure and Use.
V. Fromkin & R. Rodman, R. (1993). An Introduction to Language. (5th ed.)
Z. Salzmann, Language, Culture, and Society (ZS)
J. Doe 1988. Speak Into The Mirror. (JD)
W. Hanks 1996. Language and Communicative Practices (WH)
P. Farb Word Play
J. Sherzer, Kuna Ways of Speaking. (JS)
J. Sherzer Speech Play and Verbal Art.
D.H. Hymes, Language in Culture and Society
P. Trudgill, Sociolinguistics (an elementary textbook)
W. O'Grady, M. Dobrovolsky, M. Aronoff, Contemporary Linguistics.
G. Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
G. Lakoff & M. Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh
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Please, read carefully
Each student in this course is expected to abide by the University Code of Academic Integrity. No plagiarized work will be accepted. Sources consulted from books, journals, or web pages should be acknowledged. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student's own work. Papers bought online or otherwise plagiarized will receive a zero.
You are encouraged to study together and to discuss concepts covered in lecture and sessions. However, this permissible cooperation should never involve one student having possession of a copy of all or part of work done by someone else, in the form of an e mail, an e-mail attachment file, a diskette, or a hard copy.
Should copying occur, both the student who copied work from another student and the student who gave material to be copied will both automatically receive a zero for the assignment. Penalty for violation of this Code can also be extended to include failure of the course and University disciplinary action. [During examinations, you must do your own work. Talking or discussion, comparing notes, and copying from others are not permitted during examinations. Any such behavior will result in failure of the exam, and may lead to failure of the course and University disciplinary action.]
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It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin that you must notify each of your instructors at least fourteen days prior to the classes scheduled on dates you will be absent to observe a religious holy day. If you miss an examination, work assignment, or other project due to the observance of a religious holyday you will be given an opportunity to complete the work missed within a reasonable time after the absence.
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