- People use and evaluate speech in the context of social, political and economic
-Speech by lower-status groups are often evaluated negatively (considered
“incorrect” or “uneducated” speech), not because it is ineffective or wrong but
just because it is used by those particular people. E.g stigmatizing of B.E.V as
- Proper language itself becomes a strategic resource - and a path to wealth,
prestige and power. E.g partly explains difficulty of people in ethnography of
entering the “formal” service sector.
- Bourdieu calls this “symbolic domination”when people who are able to use the
“proper” language are considered to be more superior or in power , than the
people who speak a dialect.
- One particular way of speaking may be considered symbolically more
dominated or inferior not because it is incorrect but just because of judgement
over the people who speak that way.
- Studies long term linguistic changes.
- They look at how language is divided into subgroups.
- If dialects are isolated long enough they emerge as distinct daughter languages. - Historical linguists can reconstruct many features of past languages by studying
contemporary daughter languages. E.g English, German and Dutch derived from the
- They classify languages into subgroups by the degree of relationship their relationship.
- This is when new words or grammatical rules might be invented into a language.
- E.g “googling”, “texting”.
- This occurs by indirect borrowing from other cultures.
- Mix of English and Spanish on U.S-Mexico border.
- This occurs when there is direct contact between cultures.
- It is often a forced change.
- It often leads to the emergence of a new language.
- Pidgins: language created when two cultures come in contact in a common area.
- Creoles: when pidgins remain in the area for quite a long amount of time and then
becomes the first language of the people of that area, it is called Creoles.
- Language loss occurs when an indigenous language goes extinct when ts last
- Half of the world’s linguistic diversity has been lost over the past 500 years and of the
7000 languages that exist today, 20% are endangered and half are expected to
disappear within the century.
- Some researchers and programs are trying to document the last speakers of the
endangered languages through audio and video tapes so that they could be
- Objective is to explore how diverse cultures groups understand the world and how
understanding is related to ways of being and social practice.
Epistemology:the study of knowledge and scope of knowledge.
Ontology: the study of nature of being, existence or reality as well as the categories of
being and their relations.
- Anthony Wallace (1965 : 5) defines religion as belief and ritual concerned with
supernatural beings, powers and forces.
- Supernatural = non-material, beyond the observable.
- Why might Wallace’s definition be problematic?
- Assumes universal category “supernatural” and all “religions” beliefs refer to
- Beliefs that non-human objects in the natural world are “animated” by spirits or “souls”.
- Word is derived from Latin word “animus” - soul.
- Defined by Sir Edward Tylor in 1871 as an early form of religion that attributed life or
spirit to aspects of nature.
- He considered it the earliest form of religion and also the basis of all religion.
- Tylor interpreted animism through an evolutionary framework that saw it as flawed and
childlike belief system.
- Contemporary spiritual and religious practices seen as “survivals” of earlier form of
- Science (rationality) seen as superior and thought to inevitably replace belief of
superstition. - Tylor defined animism but he also attached a negative connotation to it.
- Term “animism” was abandoned due to negative connotations like”primitive”, “childlike”
and ”unsophisticated”, for a long time.
- New research argues that animism represents complex and intimate relationships
between “communities of beings”.
- This “relational ontology” is not a flawed belief syst