What is Language?
A system of symbols with standard meanings.
All languages consist of
Sounds that are used to communicate thoughts and emotions
Gestures that are used to communicate thoughts and emotions
What’s being
communicated
in these pictures?
Language. . .
 is humanity’s calling card.
 is the primary way by which we learn
 is the palate by which we color our lives
 allows humans to communicate and is the
main vehicle of transmission of culture.
 provides context for symbolic
understanding.
Anthropological Linguistics
 Study of language and the speakers’
use of language
 Study of the relationship between
language and other aspects of culture &
society
Language’s Key Features
Cat
Chat
Gato
Pungwul
Arbitrariness
Displacement
a
r
c
s
h
Productivity
t
l
m
s
Duality of Patterning
Studying Language
Descriptive
Historical
Socio (or ethno) linguistics
Descriptive Linguistics
Structure
 Phonology (sounds)
 Morphology (words)
 Syntax (grammar)
 Semantics (meaning)
 Grammar (rules)
Phonology
 The study of sounds of a language.
 No human language uses all the sounds
humans can make.
 IPA – International Phonetic Alphabet
 Phonemes and allophones
 /l/ and /r/ = phonemes (English has 40)
 /p/ and /ph/ = allophones
 Other sounds
 Tones, nasals, clicks, umms, huh?
Historical Linguistics
Sociolinguistics
Relationship between language & culture
Nuer, southern Sudan
Sheep
Mutton
Language, Gender & Racism
The Complexity of Language
 No primitive languages
 Languages have different
ways to categorize
Food for Thought: Does your language have a
word for the back of the knee or the place in the
arm that is at the front of the elbow?
Silent Language & Symbolic
Communication
Food for thought: Are there any symbolic gestures in
your culture which have a different meaning in
North America?
Proxemics
Proxemics
Cultural Time
Past oriented
Future Oriented
Present Oriented
Ritualized Phrases
How are you?
You fat!
Behold the waters of life
Material Culture
Language and Culture
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