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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 -- Language & Communication.docx

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT 2000
Professor
Elyse Anderson

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Language & Communication
Language = a system of communication using symbolic sounds, gestures, or marks that are put
together according to certain rules, resulting in meanings that are intelligible to all who share
that language
Symbols = sounds, gestures, and marks which are arbitrarily linked to something else and
represent it in a meaningful way
Signals = instinctive sounds or gestures that have a natural or self-evident meaning (e.g.
screams, coughs, sighs, etc.); basically opposite of symbols
It is currently believed animal communication is accomplished through signals; humans on the
other hand use BOTH signals and symbols
However! There appears to be debate whether certain species use both signals and symbols
similar to humans (e.g. bees, elephants, and dolphins)
Human culture depends upon an elaborate system of communication; each person must learn a
vast quality of knowledge to fully participate within society, hence language is a central part to
anthropological study
Linguistics = the modern scientific study of all aspects of language; three major branches =
descriptive linguistics, historical linguistics, and sociocultural linguistics
Descriptive linguistics = involves the unraveling of a language through recording, describing, and
analyzing all of its features which include grammatical structure, figures of speech, words plays,
and its relationship to other languages
o Ferdinand de Saussure = (1857-1913); arbitrary nature of the sign; all languages have
similar structure and function in similar ways; helped define that language is an actual
field of study
o Phonology = the study of language sounds; phonetics = systematic identification and
description of distinctive sounds in a language
o No language uses more than 50 sounds!
o About 6,000 languages today!
o Goal to isolate phonemes = the smallest units of sound that make a difference in
meaning in a language; performed through minimal-pair test; e.g. bit vs. pit and butter
vs. budder
o Morphology = the study of patterns or rules of word formation in a language, including
the guidelines for verb tense, pluralization, and compound words
o Morphemes = the smallest unit of sound that carry a meaning in language; e.g.
“unbreakable” comprises three morphemes (un- signifying “not”; -break-; and able
signifying “can be done”)
o Syntax = the patterns or rules by which morphemes, or words, are arranged into phrases
and sentences
o Grammar = the entire formal structure of a language, including morphology and syntax
Historical linguistics = involves deciphering “dead” languages, how languages change over time,
the relationship between languages both in the past and present; utilizes historical documents
o Relations between languages =
Language family = a group of languages descended from a single ancestral
family
Linguistic divergence = the development of different languages from a single
ancestral stock
o Why is Indo-European so widely spoken?
o Timucua linguistic origins? =
10 different dialects
Recorded by Francisco Pareja (a Franciscan missionary who developed a writing
system for the language)
Extinct language with unclear origins (doesn’t seem to be related to any other
languages AT ALL!)

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Description
Language & Communication  Language = a system of communication using symbolic sounds, gestures, or marks that are put together according to certain rules, resulting in meanings that are intelligible to all who share that language  Symbols = sounds, gestures, and marks which are arbitrarily linked to something else and represent it in a meaningful way  Signals = instinctive sounds or gestures that have a natural or self-evident meaning (e.g. screams, coughs, sighs, etc.); basically opposite of symbols  It is currently believed animal communication is accomplished through signals; humans on the other hand use BOTH signals and symbols  However! There appears to be debate whether certain species use both signals and symbols similar to humans (e.g. bees, elephants, and dolphins)  Human culture depends upon an elaborate system of communication; each person must learn a vast quality of knowledge to fully participate within society, hence language is a central part to anthropological study  Linguistics = the modern scientific study of all aspects of language; three major branches = descriptive linguistics, historical linguistics, and sociocultural linguistics  Descriptive linguistics = involves the unraveling of a language through recording, describing, and analyzing all of its features which include grammatical structure, figures of speech, words plays, and its relationship to other languages o Ferdinand de Saussure = (1857-1913); arbitrary nature of the sign; all languages have similar structure and function in similar ways; helped define that language is an actual field of study o Phonology = the study of language sounds; phonetics = systematic identification and description of distinctive sounds in a language o No language uses more than 50 sounds! o About 6,000 languages today! o Goal to isolate phonemes = the smallest units of sound that make a difference in meaning in a language; performed through minimal-pair test; e.g. bit vs. pit and butter vs. budder o Morphology = the study of patterns or rules of word formation in a language, including the guidelines for verb tense, pluralization, and compound words o Morphemes = the smallest unit of sound that carry a meaning in language; e.g. “unbreakable” comprises three morphemes (un- signifying “not”; -break-; and –able signifying “can be done”) o Syntax = the patterns or rules by which morphemes, or words, are arranged into phrases and sentences o Grammar = the entire formal structure of a language, including morphology and syntax  Historical linguistics = involves deciphering “dead” languages, how languages change over time, the relationship between languages both in the past and present; utilizes historical documents o Relations between languages =  Language family = a group of languages descended from a single ancestral family  Linguistic divergence = the development of different languages from a single ancestral stock o Why is Indo-European so widely spoken? o Timucua linguistic origins? =  10 different dialects  Recorded by Francisco Pareja (a Franciscan missionary who developed a writing system for the language)  Extinct language with unclear origins (doesn’t seem to be related to any other languages AT ALL!)  Proposed relations to Muskogean (SE US), Algonquian (Canada, Eastern seaboard), Siouan (Plains), Cariban, Arawakan, and Chibchan (S. America)  Julian Granverry argues it is related to Warao, a language isolated in South America o The Warao = “the boat people”; about 20,000 people in Venezuela; implies for Timucua that this is their closest living ancestor and they must have had to migrate; also that Florida’s native peoples are not homegrown natives (some point in the past some group hopped on over) o Forces of linguistic change = 1. The selective borrowing between languages (contexts of borrowing?) o The tendency for any group within a larger society to create its own unique vocabulary; allows members of the in-group to communicate with fellow members while effectively excluding outsiders (e.g. stacking for gang members) o Domi
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