Anthropology January 27th, 2011.
Signifying Reality: Communication and Construction
*Memorize words in GREEN*
Signifying – making sense, making signs
Franz Boas 1858-1942
•With Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) family.
•Vancouver Island, 1894
•Each culture is a complex of language, culture, and physical type, and none is
inferior to any other
•A higher culture
•An extreme idea – each culture has its own values, which may be diff from other
culture and if you belong to one culture you should not judge another
•“There are no universal standards of progress (or of mortality)”
•“Universal is really Western” – e.g. democracy begun in Western nations
•Can this be used to deny what is taken as human rights in the West, to others?
Why linguistics and semiotics in anthropology?
•Anthropology – study of what it means to be human
•Why semiotics? (What is semiotics?)
Homo sapiens – “human that knows”
•Knowing – making sense (reflecting, representing)
•Language: a way to make sense
•Language means to make sense = to signify
•Study of language: linguistics
•Study of signs (signifying): semiotics
•Linguistics is part of semiotics
•Classic (“structuralist”) communication model:
•Speaker (sender), channel, hearer (receiver)
•Encoding and decoding
•Assumes that there is an uncoded message independent of language
•This is probably not true
A Classic (“Saussurean”) View of Signification
•Ferdinand de Saussure . 1857-1913
•“Signifier” and “signified”
Franz boas 1858-1942: with kwakwaka"wakw (kwakiutl) family, vancouver island, 1894, each culture is a complex of language, culture, and physical type, and none is inferior to any other, a higher culture. Cultural relativism: an extreme idea each culture has its own values, which may be diff from other culture and if you belong to one culture you should not judge another. There are no universal standards of progress (or of mortality) . Why linguistics and semiotics in anthropology: anthropology study of what it means to be human, why language, why semiotics? (what is semiotics?) Communication: classic ( structuralist ) communication model, speaker (sender), channel, hearer (receiver, encoding, assumes that there is an uncoded message independent of language, this is probably not true and decoding. A classic ( saussurean ) view of signification: ferdinand de saussure. January 27th, 2011: signifier + signified = sign. : arbitrary relation to signified ( referent : symbol.