ANTH 1001 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Benjamin Lee Whorf, Edward Sapir, Linguistic Anthropology

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Verbal language is often seen as the main discriminating feature of humanity- no other animals speak. All human societies have language- it is universal, but there is great variation from language to language. Saussure defines language as a system of interdependent terms in which the value of each term results solely from the simultaneous presence of other terms. Boroughs- language is a virus from outer space - information spreads through language quickly. Linguistic anthropology- the study of how language shapes social and cultural life. Although linguists may study a single language or group of languages, the aim is to come to a general understanding of language as a human phenomenon. Linguists also study language variation- why variations exist, how they"re used (e. g. tomato vs. tohmato), and what they mean when used in various contexts. Doesn"t just describe our world- creates it. Not a value-free set of labels for describing reality.

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