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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 -- Language & Communication.docx

3 Pages

Course Code
ANT 2000
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!)  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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