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Chapter 9

ANTH 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Paralanguage, Speech Community, Phonetics

Course Code
ANTH 100
Mc Guire Erin- Lee

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language: a system of communication consisting of sounds or gestures
-unique to human
-deeply influenced by culture
-relies on cultural knowledge to generate & interpret these sounds & gestures
-encodes all of a culture’s information
-reflects changes in society
-is a by-product of culture
-through words we are able to refer to things that are not in front of us
-allows us to live with others in a cooperative & communicative
speech: verbal communication using sounds
-a component of language
-influenced biologically: we use our mouths & throat to produce
-social & culturally: gender, socio-economic status, level of
education, geographic region
-politically: bound up in relationships in which power is constantly
non-human primates lack the strong neural connections between brain areas
-their mouth & throat lack the intricate musculature that humans have
humans have a descended tongue, smaller mouth, lower larynx & longer neck,
allowing control over breathing & production of sound
-allowed for an individual to be better understood in social situations
higher level of cooperation survival
-more at risk of choking on food
-advantages of speech > risk of choking in human evolution
humans are the only primates born with fully developed brain structures for
acquiring & processing speech
-Wernicke’s Area: processes spoken language
-Broca’s Area: produces language
-Geschwind’s Territory: allows the brain to understand different
qualities of language (spoken & written) simultaneously
signs: something that stands for something else in communication
-index sign: an emotional expression that carries meaning directly
related to the response
primarily used by animals in the wild
-symbol: something that stands for something else with little or no
connection to its meaning
three abilities of the human language:
1. humans use symbols freely
are able to talk about something in a symbolic way or in a tense
other than the present
capable of planning
have abstract thoughts
2. humans use words to deceive
3. human language is creative
able to create new phrases & sentences
human language began as a system of gestures
-becoming bipedal freed up our hands to make gestures
-vocalization allowed info to be passed on without visual contact
-relies on trust
linguistic anthropology: studies the ways in which language, social life
& culture are intertwined
phonetics: the study of the sounds in human speech
phonemics: the study of how sounds convey meaning
phoneme: smallest unit of sound that confers meaning
morpheme: the smallest part of a word that conveys meaning
syntax: the study of how units of speech are put together to create
semantics: the study of how words & phrases are put together in
meaningful ways
-studies signs, symbols & meaning derived from facial expression, body
language & other nonverbal means of communication
pragmatics: the context of a language
utterance: an uninterrupted sequence of spoken or written language
paralanguage: the ways we express meaning through sounds beyond
words alone (non-verbal communication)
-a subset of semantics
-there are two main types:
1. voice qualities: background characteristics of a person’s
voice (pitch, rhythm, lip movements & articulation)
2. vocalizations: intentional sounds humans makes to
express themselves, but arent actually words
-culturally variable
-tends to develop based on a persons experiences
silent language: non-verbal cues that accompany speech to contribute
meaning (such as gestures, body movements, & facial expressions)
-usually shared around member of a culture
-composed of 4 components:
1. proxemics: the cultural use of space, including how close
people stand to one another bas on their relationship
comfort zones vary with cultures
2. kinesics: the cultural use of body movements, including gestures
some are universal, some vary across cultures
3. the cultural use of touch
4. the perception of time
ethnolinguistics: study of the relationship between language & culture
-a subset of linguistic anthropology
-interested in how people’s cultural environments shape their language
use & way of classifying words
language acquisition: children acquire new words & the rules that go
into assembling sentences based on what they hear around them
-kids use language rules & generalizations from the moment they
begin to speak
-children are hard-wired with universal grammar
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (linguistic relativity principle): the idea
that the language one speaks shapes the way they see the world
-language shapes people’s perception of the world because language
structures our thoughts
-strong version (linguistic determinism): language determines
thought & can limit the way we think
-weak version: language influences thought & worldview
sociolinguistics: focuses on the effects of social & cultural norms on
cultural model: a widely shared understanding about the world that
helps us organize our experience in it, determining the metaphors used in
gendered speech: different speech patterns based on the cultural
expectations of each sex
-women are generally expected to speak in a more “ladylike” manner
-womens speech often uses tag questions to come across as more
-rapport-talk: focuses on how a speaker is feeling, showing empathy
& understanding (used by females)
-report-talk: information, rather than emotion, is stressed in order to
establish power & status (used my males)
dialects: forms of language that are similar enough to be mutually
-your region of origin heavily effects it, causing your dialect to may
shift depending on your location
-allows you to tell a lot about someone (ie. geography, social status,
education level, etc.)
speech community: a group that shares language patterns
-occur in specific geographic locations, but also form in subcultures
code switching: moving easily between speech styles/languages in a
conversation or single utterance, depending on the context
language registers: different styles of speaking within a single language
-generally usually formal or informal
digital devices have created a new way to communicate
lingua franca: a language used for business transactions where speakers
of multiple languages must communicate
pidgin: a language that is a mixture of features of two+ languages
-develops during periods of contact where no lingua franca exists
-develop out of necessity for communication
-the dominant language supplies most of the vocal
-the subordinate language maintains features of its grammar
creole: a pidgin language that has remained relevant & became the
dominant language of a group
just under 7,000 languages are currently spoken around the world
-~2,000 of them are “in danger”
languages extinction: occurs when children are no longer taught to
speak the language
-genocide leaves no living speakers
-some languages evolve completely into other languages
-deliberate suppression by a dominant culture after contact may cause
a language to disappear
language revitalization: attempts to preserve languages from extinction
through children programs, online use & rejection of loan words
Anthropology Chapter 9 - Language & Culture
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