Anthropology 101, Lecture Notes, October 29
norms, values, ...
CLASSIFICATIONS OF REALITY are shared ideas about what
kinds of things and people exist. Classifications of
Reality allow for categories of things.
*in our culture, horses and dogs are pets. In other
cultures it is food. Some cultures believe in ghosts
and spirits, good luck / bad luck etc.
WORLDVIEWS are a people's way of interpreting the
universe and how they themsevles fit into it.
* ie. religious beliefs, the role humans play in nature
(we tend to believe we are the keepers of the earth,
other people's see humans as any other animal).
culture is always changing. (we often only think of
industrial societies as not changing but that isn't
- the prime mover of culture change is TASK
SPECIALIZATION. since task specialization, the pace of
change has increased.
CAUSES OF CHANGE
● forces within society ● contact between societies
● changes in the environment
INTERNAL MECHANISMS OF CHANGE
(these are universal)
● THE DISCOVERY OF NEW PRINCIPLES
● fire, stone tools, the wheel, etc
2. SECONDARY INNOVATION AKA INVENTION AKA DISCOVERY
● NEW APPLICATIONS OF KNOWN PRINCIPLES
● cart, etc, uses of the innovations
*an invention is something deliberate, as opposed to a
discovery or an innovation which are happened upon
● THE SPREAD OF CUSTOMS OR PRACTICES FROM ONE
CULTURE TO ANOTHER
● HAPPENS THROUGH DIRECT CONTACT OR STIMULUS
*DIRECT CONTACT is when a culture comes into contact
with another culture and decide to borrow something **STIMULUS DIFFUSION is when a culture hears about an
idea from another culture and invent it from themselves
based on the idea. Not borrowing exactly the way it is.
4. CULTURAL LOSS
● THE REPLACEMENT OR ABANDONMENT OF CUSTOMS OR
EXTERNAL CAUSES OF CHANGE
● MAJOR CULTURE CHANGES THAT PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO
MAKE AS A RESULT OF FIRSTHAND CONTACT WITH ANOTHER
● A FORM OF COLONIALIZATION
● FORCE PEOPLE TO CHANGE THEIR WAY OF LIFE BUT DON'T
NECESSARILY MAKE THEM EQUAL
● RELOCATION DUE TO ECONOMIC, POLITICAL, SOCIAL OR
● FORCED MIGRATION
● brings people into contact with new ideas since
people migrate but bring their culture with them
where they go.
REACTIONS TO CHANGE 1. SYNCRETISM
● IN ACCULTURATIONS, THE BLENDING OF INDIGENOUS
TRAITS TO FORM A NEW SYSTEM
● this often happens with RELIGION. it is the last
thing people want to abandon. it takes on some
features of the acculturators but remains the
original religion at its core (think mesoamerica)
● ie, christianity brought to the americas turned
into a pidgin blend of christianity with their
● WHEN INDIVIDUALS WILLINGLY ASSIMILATE THEMSELVES
INTO A NEW CULTURE
● people completely abandon their culture
● sometimes this just a more peaceful and stoic
response that people willingly choose
ANTHROPOLOGY AND LANGUAGE
- the key to culture
WHY STUDY LANGUAGE?
- to understand what makes human language different
from other forms of communication
● not just learning a language, but studying a language.
● we used to think only humans had SYMBOLIC
communication but some animals have this too.
● we used to think we were the only ones who could
lie or decieve one another but some animals do this
- to understand the origins and development of language
- to understand cultures (SOCIOLINGUISTICS)
● not just what words mean in different language,
but what they mean for the speakers.
● syntax, slang, written aspects
- to understand the relationship between language and
● SAPIR-WHORF hypothesis.
HUMAN LANGUAGE UNIVERSALS
Definition: A SYSTEM OF COMMUNICATION USING SOUNDS PUT
TOGETHER IN MEANINGFUL WAYS ACCORDING TO CERTAIN RULES.
WHAT MAKES HUMAN LANGUAGE DIFFERENT THAN
1. MULTIMEDIA POTENTIAL - ALL HUMAN LANGUAGES USE
VARIOUS MEDIA TO COMMUNICATE
● spoken ● signed
2. ARBITRARINESS / CONVENTIONALITY - ALL LANGUAGES RELY
ON ARBITRARY SYMBOLS AGREED UPON.
● if i am the only one who understands what i am
saying, i am not communicating.
● any sound can mean anything if we all agree.
● ALL LANGUAGES USE A LIMITED NUMBER OF DISCRETE AND
RECOMBINABLE ELEMENTS (SOUNS) TO MAKE SWORDS AND
3. PRODUCTIVITY / CREATIVITY - ALL LANGUAGES USE SYNTAX
RULES TO CREATE AN INFINITE NUMBER OF SENTENCES.
● if we are all given a 1000 words to write an essay
with, we can all write very different essays
because words mean different things in different
4. DISPLACEMENT - ALL ANGUAGES ARE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE
ABOUT OBJECTS, IDEAS, PEOPLE AND THINGS THAT ARE REMOTE
IN SPACE AND TIME.
● you can talk about things that aren't here
● you can talk about things in the past or future.
WHAT MAKES HUMAN LANGUAGES DIFFERENT FROM
ONE ANOTHER? 1. PHONOLOGY - LANGUAGES DIFFER IN THE SOUNDS THEY USE
● some languages don't have the "th" sound like
● some languages don't distinguish between p and b,
even though they hear the different sounds, they
have no separate meaning.
2. MORPHOLOGY - LANGUAGES DI