ANT253H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Critical Discourse Analysis, Linguistic Anthropology, Diglossia
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Possible topics for the essay:
***Please use at least one case study in order to support your argument(s). A case study would
be any local/ national/ standard/non-standard/Internet linguistic variety.***
!!You can engage in a theoretical or methodological discussion introduced in this course.
•!E.g. the Whorfian Hypothesis. You can discuss arguments for and against it
quoting studies that have explored/tested the hypothesis, and discuss possible
theoretical implications or raise questions about the implications of this
hypothesis in a certain setting (e.g. second language learning, cross-cultural
communication, medical/legal interaction/language) or various settings.
!!You can draw on one or two case studies to show how language can serve to marginalize,
empower, differentiate, inspire, advocate, and so on? (Discuss one/ two /three of these,
not all of them)
!!You can use a case study to exemplify/challenge a theoretical perspective you learned
about in Linguistic Anthropology. What weaknesses or strength do you find in this
theoretical perspective, and how does it compare to other theoretical models?
!!You can analyze/compare linguistic varieties, in order to make a point about the way
language can shape and/or reflects one’s social, gendered or other identity.
!!You can provide a historical account of a language in order to show how social/ cultural/
historical/political developments interact with/lead to language change/contact.
!!You can discuss various implications of metaphorical language in medical encounters/
legal language/ educational interactions/ advertisements, etc.
!!You can carry out a critical analysis of a text pointing out how language is
used to support a certain political/social viewpoint.
•! Approach: Critical Discourse Analysis
•! A crucial book for this: Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis: The
Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.
!!You can use Linguistic Anthropology findings, concepts, theoretical perspectives, etc. to
analyze/explain/challenge a discourse/debate/discussion in the news media.
•!E.g. There are newspaper articles criticizing text speak and Computer Mediated
Communication (CMC). Various people express concerns about the
oversimplification of standard language and the literacy skills of young people.
Based on concepts and theories learned in Ling Anthro (e.g. diglossia) as well as
studies testing the implications of CMC on young people's literacy skills, you can
discuss arguments in support of and against these types of concerns.
•!E.g. Proponents of standard language argue that CMC is ruining young people’s
linguistic skills. Discuss based on linguistic anthropology concepts and
sociolinguistic findings. (language evolution, studies showing correlation CMC
and literacy, social rather than linguistic criteria on CMC, diglossia)
!!You can discuss some of the difficulties faced in trying to revive a dead language or
trying to maintain, even at some minimal level, a dying language? E.g. you can consider
current situations in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, or among many native peoples of the
Americas, or within minority group languages, either indigenous or immigrant, in large
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