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Ways of Knowing: Time, Language, Ritual

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Maggie Cummings

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Lecture Two: Ways of Knowing – January 25, 2011
Encompassing view of reality based on a set of shared assumptions about
how the world works
Basically: How and why the world is the way it is
Can have multiple worldviews in a single culture or a single one
Encompass what is real and what isn't
Humans and Weather
Bima: rain = gift from Allah
Dou Donggo: rain = natural order
Bima pray/honour Allah, asking him to bring rain
Dou Donggo, appease the mischievous spirits who stopped the rain
Bima = natural world is caused by the unnatural/god
Dou Donggo = natural world is natural; disruption is unnatural/human
In both cases the worldview was reinforced
In both cases the reaction was to appeal to the supernatural, not react to the
natural (as in, irrigation, storing crops, etc.)
Reinforcements of Worldview
'We are what we speak'
Relationship between categories of language and how that person
understands the world and behaves in it
Language patterns: tell general descriptions, relationships, place of origin of
people based on voice, word choice, tone and tamber, speed, etc.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: relationship between language and worldview
oLinguistic anthropologists
oSapir= teacher; Whorf = student
Example: translations are cultural as well as linguistic, hence all the
variations in languages
Adamic view of language: that language is the same everywhere, just with
different words
Sapir-Whorf suggests that language is more than just labels, it's culture
Creation of Sapir-Whorf theory
Idea (in legal writing) of small words and their meaning
Importance of Metaphors
Culturally significant metaphors that shape and reflect worldview and
Perhaps more related to culture than the language itself
Metaphor and Worldview: Time
Time is shaped by worldview
Time shapes out worldview
In our world time is a consumable, measureable thing
In our world time is a noun, not a state of being
Spatial metaphors: time, activities, condition
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