Linguistics and Semiotic Anthropology
x Why Linguistics and Semiotics in Anthropology?
o Anthropology: study of what it means to be human
o Why Language?
o Why/What is Semiotics?
o Homo Sapiens- ³KXPDQWKDWNQRZV´
o Knowing: making sense (reflecting, representing)
o Language: a way to make sense
o To make sense= to signify [sign+ify]
o Study of language: linguistics
o Study of signs (signifying): semiotics
o Linguistics is part of semiotics
Semiotics is the study of
Language Other signs
x The Biological Character of Language
o Not a thing, but an activity
o Hardware: brain
o Before 14 we can learn a language with no problems
o Software: the rules of language at different levels, ex: syntax, morphology,
o Material Product: sound waves (speech), text (marks on paper, print, digital
o Immaterial effects: of more interest here- what does language do?
o Language: natural (biological) aspects
Ex: Noam Chomsky
x We learn specific languages from others (its not in our genes)
x Difference: language vs. languages
x The main topic in linguistics is language (the language faculty),
o Our Brain Makes It Easy To Learn Some Linguistic Features
All languages draw from a limited set of possible linguistic features that
Why can we understand Yoda (Star Wars)?
Because he is grammatically wrong but understandable, easy to imitate
. . . he uses rule that are humanly possible and so are found in some
languages (his rule is to put the verb last: as in Latin)
o There Are Linguistic Rules that Our Brain Does Not Help Us Learn Easily