Language, culture, difference, prejudice
Questions that sum up the main points of the lecture:
1. Language is universal and given by nature; languages are particular and learned in
2. In what ways in language an adaptive feature in homo sapiens?
3. Explain in what way “race” is not a biological but a linguistic concept.
4. Explain what might be meant by saying that if we don’t have a name for something then
it does not exist for us.
Language in Anthropology:
• Why? → Adaptation.
o Adapting to the nature and social environment.
• Communication and cooperation.
o Interpretation/Working with one another.
o …Signification (making meanings)...
o …Structuring how we see each other…
o …The world.
Universals and Divisions:
• Language and culture are human universals.
• Specific/human particulars.
• Universals (language, cultures) are learned.
• Particulars (languages, cultures) are learned.
o Transmitted via society (largely through talk)
Adaptive Value of Social Transmission:
• Much more flexible than genetic transmission.
• Major changes can occur to next generations or two.
• Change occurs without a change of species.
Differentiation with Species:
• Cope with different environment. → Specific languages and cultures. 19/09/2013
• Individuals may have a disagreement on what a word’s meaning is. → Ex. Peoples view
• Cultures/customs: Potlatch, bride’s wealth/dowry.
o Potlatch: (among North American Indian peoples of the northwest coast) An
opulent ceremonial feast at which possessions are given away or destroyed to
display wealth or enhance prestige.
• Can cha