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Language Culture, Prejudice

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Christopher Watts

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Anthropology January 20 , 2011 Language Culture, Prejudice Nature vs. Nurture? Adaptation Prejudice: racism, ethnocentrism The origins of anthropology and imperialism Anthropology vs. ethnocentrism Cultural relativism opinion that it is okay for people to do anything if it is part of their culture Learning Resources Book Lavenda and Schultz available in UofT Bookstore Kalmar notes online Office Hours Tuesdays 12:30-1:30, check contacts web page for cancellations Language and Culture: Nature vs. Nurture? Naturenurture A false contrast? All humans have language and all humans have culture so language and culture are programmed into humans by nature Universals and Particulars Language and culture are human universals but specific languages and specific culture are human particulars Universals (language and culture) are innate transmitted via genes (through sex) Particulars (languages, culture) are learned transmitted via society (largely through talk) Adaptive Value of Social Transmission Social transmission much 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 Specific languages and cultures develop to cope with specific environmental niches Words snow, iPhone, love Cultures: potlatch (traditional custom in north Western America, people would demonstrates wealth of money by giving it away), brideswealthdowry Cultures (with language) change with niche itself
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