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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANT100Y1
Professor
Ivan Kalmar
Semester
Winter

Description
Language, Culture, and Prejudice - What is culture? - Nature vs. nurture o Humans really rely on nurture side - Prejudice when people come together o Ethnocentrim thinking we are better than animals and other ethinicities - Cultural relativism shouldn’t judge other cultures Nurture vs. nature? - Is it a false contrast? o All humans have language and all humans have culture o Nurture isnt completely different from nurture o Language and culture are programmed into humans by nature o Culture ways depends on our genetics - Not so totally distinct o Language and culture are linked to genetics Universals and particulars - Language and culture are human universals - Specific languages and specific cultures are human particulars o Universals (language, culture) are innate transmitted through genes - Particulars (languages, cultures) are learned o Transmitted though society (mainly by talking) Adaptive Value of Social Transmission - Social transmission is must more flexible than genetic transmission - Major changes can occur within a generation or two - Major changes can occur without a change of species Differentiation within Species - Humans adapted to new challenges - Culture helps survival - Specific languages and cultures develop to cope with specific environmental niches - Different words for different cultures - Cultures: potlatch, brideswealth/ dowry - Cultures change when conditions change - Result: adaptation without becoming a new species Cyborgs and Replicants - Still homo sapiens - Cyborg (?) Difference, Conflict, Prejudice - Within all species, groups can come into conflict, often over resources - In homo sapiens, these groups may be culturally adapted to different niches… - And/pr have different cultures and languages… - This may be accomplished by prejudices and (>) Origins of Anthropology - Modern anthropology developed in the nineteenth century, in a specific niche: the “West” not geographic term, in fact, it’s the north th o Began in 19 century - More was known in the West about the non-West - West was becoming dominant all over the world - Age of Imperialism late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century - Study of explaining the non-West - Study of others became popular o Helped colonialism - Anthropology developed from scholars, not the government - Linguistic, culture, physical/racial general public and early anthropologists understood the non-west based on these characteristics o This is how Western nations understood themselves Language and Prejudice - All languages have the same general form (e.g. words, sentences, nouns, verbs) - But were ranked on an evolutionary scale, from primitive to advanced - And the indo-European languages were considered to be the most “advanced” - Proof they had expanded all over the world, so they were the most adaptive - What’s wrong with this idea? Culture and Prejudice - A (false) evolutionary scheme of stages: 1. Earliest: “Primitive cultures”: have not changed since the beginning of time (“savaged”, “uncivilized”) 2. Then: Nomads and barbarians 3. Then: Agricultural “civilizations” 4. Last: Modern western civilization- the biggest Physical Type and Prejudice - Race: a folk notion, not a scientific notion - Scientists may refer as “race” to an identifiable, relatively distinct genetic pool in plants or animals - Human races are not such a pool - Humans do look different, and human looks can correlate with some other genetic traits - But not consistently enough to justify the notion of human races - There is more variation (other than skin colour, etc. across than within race - Again, “evolutionary” - Nineteenth century classifications: o Black, red, yellow, white o White the most civilized - Most people don’t fall into these categories Lessons of the One-Drop Rule - One drop rule: even if you had one bit of black then you are still considered black - Humans differ by appearance, but their classification by difference is not given by society: nurture not nature - Racial classifications are made in the context of relations of power within society - The black race and white race were invented along with slavery in the Americas - “Whiteness” meant freedom, so needed to be “protected” Ethnocentrism - Mixture of racial and cultural prejudice: ethnocentrism Anthropology, imperialism, ethnocentrism - Anthropology originated in order to explain more carefully the difference between the West and “primitive people” - Sometimes served colonial power - Independent and university sponsored anthropologists often criticized the colonial power - Malinowski late 1800’s - Franz Boas late 1800’s - Margaret Mead middle 1900’s Cultural Relativism - Cultures creates differentiation and is correlated to different situation - Anthropologistss aren’t necessarily cultural relativists Pages 16-29 - In the beginning of the 20 century race was thought to be biological subpopulations - People started using race to justify their domination over darker-skinned people th - In the early 20 century under influence of Franz Boas, anthropologists showed evidence that diverse beliefs and practices that distinguished people is due to different social learning - It became that all humans were thought to have the same abilities and everyone was capable of learning or adopting from others cultural universals - Boasians believed that race, language, and culture were independent phenomena and that race (physical characteristics) doesn’t compel a person to speak or behave in a specific way o Variation in human groups is because of culture but it also explains how they can learn new languages and custom - Usually studied cultures that were incorporated in nation states such as in Africa - The ruling elite wanted to sort people into societies and differentiate between them - Following WWII, racial thinking was condemned o Instead focused on human species as a whole, explaining variation as outcome of adaptations to environments shaped by natural selection o Was supposed to diminish concept of race but still here - Culture helps survival - Humans don’t only rely on human physiology for survival but also rely on cultural capacity e.g. don’t need to wait for fur to develop in cold climates but can learn to use fire and make warm clothing - Niche construction process where people’s cultural activities reshape the environment in which they live and people alter the selection pressures that they face o Remodels environment to which any population must adapt o Not only for humans e.g. beavers building dams - People are equipped with adaptive traits to construct habitable niches anywhere in the world - Although some primates also have culture, they don’t use symbols something that stands for something else o Survival depends on reliance on learned, shared traditions that are symbolically encoded - Ethnocentrism measuring other cultures through own culture o Inevitably look at what they lack - Cultural relativism-> not judge other cultures according to own culture but to appreciate and assess the role of those customs within the culture - In African apartheid government separated Africans from whites thinking that each culture should be in its own area and they should not mix, not allowing Africans to run commercial institutions since they were part of “European culture” Communication and Construction Basic Concepts: Language and Sign - All languages have universal features such as nouns and verbs o Nouns and verbs always need to be beside each other - Language doesn’t need to be expressed vocally necessarily - Language has a structure but is independent in method of expressing: speech, writing, sign language - Language is not only communication o Language does not need to be communicated, there can be internal “speech” o Language can also be our internal narrative o Internal speech happens only after a dialogue with the external work is established - Internalizing language is internalizing culture since culture means “a shared understanding of the world” - Words are building blocks of language words are only one kind of sign o A picture or a photograph also stand for that object - There is no necessary connection between the sign and what it stands for - Most words are symbols and language is therefore a symbolic system - Sign make sense, signify and stand for other items e.g. word dog stands for a certain kind of animal - Linguistic anthropology study of signs - Semiotics study of language (linguistics) and other signs (semiotic proper) Communication Classic (structuralist) communication model: - Speaker (sender), channel, hearer (receiver) - Encoding and decoding - Assumes that there is an uncoded message independent of language A classic (Saussurean) view of signification: - Signifier and signified Symbol, icon, index - Symbol arbitrary relation to signified (referent) o Connected only via the system of signification (e.g. language) o Arbitrary is opposite of motivated (motivated is for e.g. a picture) o Arbitrary no necessary connection between the sign and what it stands for o Language is mostly made up of words that are symbols - Icons share some of their form (shape, sound) with the referent signs that resemble what they stand for through the way they sound, look (e.g.. onomatopoeia, dog paw on bad) - Indexes have motivated referents but do not share any other their form with the referent o They don’t sound/ look “the same” as the referent o They still “indicate” what they refer to in relation to context e.g. a gold chain o Smoke to fire smoke is not arbitrary nor iconic (smoke does not look like fire) o I, she, this need to know spatial-temporal context to understand whom they refer to Construction and constructs - Linguistic and other signs construct referents - Some referents are real and others are not o Irony, lies, fantasy, plans o These are adaptive advantages of homo sapiens Reality as a construction - Construction – formed by people in society, nurture not nature - Reality: a) verifiable b) The world as it makes sense to us - Reality does not come across to us without the filter of signs and language o It is socially constructed Language constructs reality - Creates an understanding of distinct concepts and categories as if they were part of the objective world - Such understandings have a bearing on the real world - Example: color “green” and “blue” o No distinction in old Chinese, old Japanese, Vietnamese, Sioux, and many other languages 青Chinese qing Jap. ao “blue or green” 青天qing tiai blue sky, 青菜qing cai green vegetable Perception and interpretation - The point is not that Chinese could not see green and blue but they did not see them as different o i.e. they were similar to “light blue” and “dark blue” in English today - So our understanding of the world is constructed by language Social construction - “Reality is socially constructed” o (Does not mean “deliberately created” by people) - Is there a “real” beyond socially constructed reality? - Are there in fact signifieds that are independent of signifiers? Forms of language - Linguistics proper study of forms from which structure of language is formed - Must understand structure we can’t understand what language is Text - A conversation is a text o Any self-contained language, whether written or not Formulas - Formulas Constructions that distinguish parts of the text - Knowledge that separates the beginning, middle, and end of the sentence Syntax - Syntax study of sentence structure, the way words and phrases are combined to make sentences - Sentences can be grammatical but not acceptable if they follow rules but still don’t make sense e.g. colorful ideas sleep furiously “Innateness Hypothesis” - Some rules don’t exist in any language - We are innately predisposed to have rules of certain natures - Children don’t learn language, but rather they learn individual languages o We have an innate ability to recognize syntactic rules that are humanly possible o Part of language universals Agreement - Syntax (rules for making strings of words) are not just about word order - Also show how parts of sentences are related - Agreement within sentence, e.g. number or gender agreement - Not in all languages there is verb agreement - Some languages have gender agreement while others don’t. English doesn’t but French does. o Have biosocial genders (he/she) not grammatical genders - Gender is an arbitrary division of nouns for the purposes of agreement Social Construction of the Self - Theory Our concept of having a self (our I, ego) is not entirely given by nature - It is constructed in society, by signs, especially language - Theory: like colours and races, there is a continuum that language and signs construct as separate entities o Human consciousness is on a continuum and we construct separate individuals based on that continuum o The self (“ego”) is a continuum How the self develops according to Lacan - Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) o French psychoanalyst interpreted Freud o The self is linguistically constructed o Idea that we each have an ego is the result of us having a language - Baby does not come into society with a sense of an individual self - Baby lives in the real (experience the world as unbounded, doesn’t understand its own self as separate from the world, there are no separations) - When language appears, the baby acquires a sense of having a separate self and it start thinking of the world as having different boundaries o This is the symbolic stage (world experienced as consisting of bounded units) “I” - I is actually a word and must have it to understand ourselves as a separate ego - Each occurrence of “I” is a signifier, whose meaning is developed from relations to other signifiers o From other time I said “I” o From time I heard others say “you” o Or my name Inner conversation - We are both “I” and “you” to ourselves o In inner conversation, one party coaches the other o This “coach” is more influenced by society o It “represents” society o Frued’s superego - Our self is a conversation and it includes a representation of society (the superego) The levels of language: Outline Double Articulation - Language consists of meaningful units such as texts and words and of meaningless units of sound - Meaningful units - Texts studies in discourse analysis - Sentences studied in syntax - Words studies in morphology - Meaningless units (combine to make meaning) - Phonemes studies in phonology sound system: phonemes and allophones - Phones studied in phonetics Context - In language and in other semiotic systems, the meaning and function of each item depends on the context what is outside the actual text but is relevant to it - Example: agreement in in number (singular or plural) agreement o In Spanish and English there is and in Japanese there isn’t Text 1) Any meaningful item or items perceived as a unit 2) A meaningful item or items understood as not forming part of a larger item - “to be or not to be “ a text or “hamlet” could be a text, depends on analysis of what is a text - Linguistic and non-linguistic texts Rationality - Items derive their function and meaning from their relations to other parts of the text to the context Morphology - Morphology study of word structure o Smaller than words can be dividing words into meaningful units - As most linguistic analysis, morphology is concerned with spoken, not written language - Morpheme smallest unit of language that carries meaning - Not necessar
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