ANTH 100 Language and social order.docx

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23 Apr 2012

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Language and social order
January 25th, 2012
- Myth: a story that holds a forever truth
- Multilingual before many people lived in this type of society
- Monolingual today most people live in this type of environment due to all our shared media, a
singular language is only needed to “tie us together
- Random fact: the Maisin marry within 5 distinct language groups
- Distinct dialects, languages: blends of languages, pronunciations vary from area to area; as
people are exposed to more languages they adopt parts
- Sociolinguistics: the social uses of language
Special words or forms of speech may designate social divisions and hierarchies terms of
address, honorifics
Ex. The language of Tonga, a south pacific island nation, includes an elaborate set of
honorific terms to address chiefs
- Language marks social status
Ex. In the film lord of the rings, different characters have different English accents reflection
contemporary economic classes in Britain
- Customary language use reinforces culturally sanctioned behaviors
Ex. The Maisin culture, there is a taboo (prohibited) against saying the name or even a word
that resembles the name of one’s in-laws. Kinship terms are used. One results of this is that
Maisin has an unusual number of synonyms
- Language and perception: humans use language to organize experience with semantic domains
(categories of things/properties that are perceived as having fundamental commonalities)
- Perception of reality: the sapir-whorf hypothesis states that languages shape humans
perceptions of reality (linguistic relativity) how difference does this makes us?
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