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Lecture 13

AN101 Lecture 13

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Anne- Marie Colpron

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Lecture 13 3/4/2013 10:31:00 AM Language, Culture, and Society Why study language in a sociocultural anthropology course?  Sociocultural anthropology focuses on learned behaviours and ideas that human beings acquire as members of society.  Language is one of these behaviours that is learned and culturally acquired. Language as a cultural practice:  Language is so ingrained in our everyday life and seems so natural that we tend to forget it is leaned and culturally acquired. Paradox of language:  Language is universal: o All people around the world have a language.  Languages are plural: o Different societies around the world have elaborated different languages (6660) Definition of Language:  The system of arbitrary vocal symbols (or their equivalent) we use to encode our experience of the world. Why vocal symbols or their equivalent?  The articulated sounds of speech can be transferred into visual speech symbolism (written words, reading lips, sign language, etc.) Language is specific to humans:  Animals have a type of communication. For ex: primates have call systems ranging from 15-40 difference calls depending on the species.  These calls are produces only when the animal finds itself in specific situations, such as the presence of food or danger (limited contexts)  Primate call systems do not have symbolic complexity that human languages have. Voluntarily articulated sounds:  Question: o Can sounds made under emotional stress, like a scream or surprise or fear, be considered as part of language? Involuntary sounds:  NO!  This kind of reaction is instinctive and not symbolic.  Language is an intentional symbolic way of communicating. Question:  Are interjections such as “ah! Oh!” Part of language? Interjections:  YES!  Interjections have a conventional use.  We culturally learn how to use them  They vary in different languages from society to society. Onomatopoeia:  The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.  For ex: the sound of knocking at the door or drinking an beverage. YES!  These sounds do not come naturally our of nature:  They are cultural constructions, that is why we find cultural variation Aspects of language:  System of symbols  Specific to humans  Non-instinctive (learned)  Voluntary aspect  Universal and variation Language variation:  Languages differ in: o Sounds o Lexicon (vocabulary) o Word structure o Sentence structure o Grammatical categories o Discourse patterns Language Differ in sounds:  Phonology: o The study of the sounds of language  Canadian English: o Uses 38 sounds (phonemes)  !Kung San: o “click” Question:  Can we consider the !Kung San “cli
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