Linguistic anthropology studies the relationship between language and culture, as well as the linkages between language, culture, and cognition. Language is defined as the common human condition, which is also a fundamental mode of diversity across communities, and considered an integral part of culture – the sum of knowledge and practices shared by members of a community. This course provides an overview of important and current topics in the field and focusses on the question of how linguistic variation and categorization can be investigated from an anthropological perspective. In addition, research methods, including digital means to study culture and language, will be discussed. Students will become familiar with philosophical ideas, sociolinguistic models, and anthropological theories that have inspired the anthropology of language. An up-to-date review of the latest theories and findings in all the key areas will be presented alongside famous and influential studies that have shaped anthropological approaches to language in the past.
The final exam will be held as an in-class exam at our faculty. You are expected to be present in person. If, due to health issues, that is a problem for you, please contact me.
The exam will be 90 min. long. I have compiled a list of exam questions for you to study - please see below (last topic after your presentations).
You have three date options to choose from:
1. June 9, 2020, 13:302. June 26, 2020, 10:003. September 8, 2020, 10:00
The rooms will be announced in due time.
Click on this link to get to the results:
Thanks for participating!
Syllabus (will be updated weekly)
Preview of the course: goals, readings, requirements, grading.
Introduction to linguistic and cultural anthropology
The beginnings of modern linguistic anthropology
Duranti, A. (2009). History of linguistic anthropology. In A. Sujoldzic (Ed.), Linguistic Anthropology: UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems. Oxford, UK: Eolss Publishers, pp. 263-278
Language, culture, and worldview
Pullum, G. K. (1991). The great Eskimo vocabulary hoax. And other irrelevant essays on the study of language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Everett, D. L. (2005). Cultural constraints on gammar and cognition in Piraha: Another look at the design features of human language. Current Anthropology, 46/4, 621-646.
Nevins, A., Pesetsky, D. & Rodrigues, C. (2007). Piranha exceptionality: A reassessment. Language, 85, 355-404.
Martin, L. (1986). Eskimo words for snow: A case study in the genesis and decay of an anthropological example. American Anthropologist, 88/2, 418-423.
"Social media culture" and linguistic self construction
Lee, C. (2014). Language choice and self-presentation in social media - The case of university students in Hong Kong. In: P. Seargeant & C. Tagg (eds), The Language of Social Media. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 91-111.
Mahay, J. (2013). "Their lives are so much better than ours!" The ritual (re)construction of social identity in holiday cards. In: D. Tannen & A. M. Trester (eds.), Language and the new media. Georgetown" Georgetown University Press, pp. 85-98.
Crystal, D. (2006). Language and the internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2: Netspeak, pp. 26-65.
The primordial scene of cultural life: Conversational exchanges
Tannen, D. (1984). The pragmatics of cross-cultural communication. Applied Linguistics, 5,/3, 189-195.
Dingemanse, M. & Floyd, S. (2014). Conversation across cultures. In N. J. Enfield, P. Kockelman & J. Sidnell (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.434-464.
Digital linguistic anthropology: Language change within online communities
Dogs Are Doggos: An Internet Language Built Around Love For The Puppers: https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/04/23/524514526/dogs-are-doggos-an-internet-language-built-around-love-for-the-puppers?t=1584890472866
Oral folklore and spoken art
Salzmann, Z. (2004). Language, culture, and society. Oxford, UK: Westview Press. Chapter 12, pp. 271-291
Sindoni, M. G. (2010). Creole in the Caribbean: How oral discourse creates cultural identities. Journal des africanistes 80(1-2):217-236
Language vitality, death, and revitalization: The role of English
Eckert, T., Johann, A. Kaenzig, A., Kueng, M. Mueller, B. Schwald, C. & Walder, L. (2014). Is English a 'killer language"? The globalisation of a code. eHistLing, 1.
Kornai, A. (2013). Digital language death. PLoS ONE, 8/10, e77056.
Attendance (i.e., doing the online lessons, not missing more than 3) = 20%
Oral presentation = 40%
Final exam = 40%
The oral presentations will take place as scheduled but in digital format. The requirements stay the same as we discussed at the beginning of the semester (choose your own topic, prepare well, length 15 min. etc.), only the 5-min classroom task has been eliminated.
Please find 3 questions stemming from your presentation that you think would be fair to ask your classmates at the exam.
We have reserved three lessons for presentations (and there will be no class activities during these dates): April 20 and May 4 and 11, 2020. You are free to choose when you upload your presentation. The latest date by which you should upload/file-share your presentation with the class is May 11, 2020.
You are required to watch all presentations that were uploaded by your classmates before the semester ends.
Here are some of the options you have:
a. Do a screencast of a powerpoint presentation. This is possible when you are using Powerpoint 2013 and later. You can record your voice while going through PPT slides (probably the easiest way). You can only record your voice or also broadcast an embedded video of yourself - that's up to you. Alternatively, you can use QuickTime Player (free download) to do a screen recording (under File -> New Screen Recording).
b. Record yourself with a video/ laptop camera or cell phone camera while giving your powerpoint presentation on your home computer. This way, we get a video of you giving the presentation.
c. Audio-record yourself using an audio recorder on your laptop or cell phone while giving the presentation and provide the ppt slides separately for us.
Note: I am sure there are other options available and you are free to choose the technology that best suits your needs.
There are essentially two options:
(1) either create a video plus audio file, so that we can hear you talk and see your slides at the same time.
(2) or only create an audio file of yourself giving the presentation and upload the ppt slides separately. In this case, you need to add slide numbers on the ppt and then, as you talk, indicate which slide you are talking about (e.g., by saying: “now to slide number 3”). This will make it easier for your classmates and me to follow the presentation.
Once you have made a recording of your presentation, you can decide to upload your file on a platform (e.g. Google Drive, Youtube) and share the link with the class in MOODLE. Alternatively, you can record your presentation in Youtube/ Teams directly and then post a link to it on MOODLE. Ondrej Tichy is the contact person if you have technical questions about where to post your presentation.
If you choose the option to only record audio (in mp3) and upload your ppt slides separately, this could be uploaded on MOODLE if your files are under 20MB.
If you have trouble finding a solution for your online presentation, please talk to me via email.
This is an online class.
You are required to do three tasks. The first one is related to the required reading (Tannen, 1984), and you are asked to answer a question about the text. In the second step, you are asked to watch a TED Talk of Elizabeth Stokoe (on Youtube, 20 min.) and discuss some aspects of the content. The third step is a short exercise, where you have to apply some of the new knowledge gained from Tannen and Stokoe, as well as common sense.
Please type your answers to steps 1, 2, and 3 on a computer and send them to me in an email (as one PDF file) by Friday, March 20, 2020. If I do not receive your document by that deadline, you will be marked as 'absent' for this class.
There will be no required reading assignment for next week (I think you might already have lots of reading assignments from various classes).
Please click on the following link to watch the TED Talk:
Afterwards, answer the following questions:
A. Korean shop owner and African-American customer in interaction
Customer enters store and goes to fridge
Owner: How are you?
Customer: What's going on man? How've you been?
Owner: OK, OK. And you?
Customer takes drink toward cash register and stands there
Customer: Wow, you guys moved a lot of things around.
Owner: I haven’t seen you for a while hehe. Where you been
Owner: Oh really?
Owner: How long?
Customer: For about a month.
Owner: How's it there?
Owner: Cold, yeah?
Customer: Hehe heh heh heh (headshake)
Owner: Is Chicago cold?
Customer: Man, I got off the plane and walked out the airport I said "Oh shit"
Owner: I thought it's gonna be nice spring season over there
Customer: Well not now this is about a month - I been there – I was there for about a month but you know… (headshakes)
Customer: Too cold. I mean this was really cold
Owner: They have snowy season there
Customer: I've seen it snow Easter Sunday
Owner: The California weather almost never changes
Customer: Back there it's a seasonal change, you got fall, winter, spring
Owner: Mm hm
Customer: You know. But back there the weather sshhh [headshake]. ….. Well, got to go. See you man.
Owner: Take care.
B. Korean shop owner and Korean customer who enters the store to buy cigarettes.
Owner: Hello, how are you ? [customer has just entered store]
Customer: Hello, how are you?
Owner: You would like cigarettes? [owner reaches for cigarettes under counter]
Owner: Here you are. [owner takes customer’s money and hand her cigarettes; customer turns to leave]
Consider the findings of the NPR article on internet dog language:
Now, identify one online community (be it blog community, groups on social media, etc.) that shows non-standard use of English in some way. Describe the group and their linguistic peculiarities.
The non-standard language use of the community can encompass a few words or may go as far as involving structural changes to English (syntactical deviations). Please cite examples for the specific language use, and try to find out something about the origins of it in your online community.
Write approx. 1 typed page (Times New Roman 12 pt, spacing 1.5), and send me a PDF or .docx file by Friday March 27, 2020.
Please listen to/ watch the screencast that I made for today (and excuse the inferior recording and the hoarseness of my voice). You will find the Powerpoint presentation as .pptx below.
Then do the two tasks that I describe at the end of the presentation.
Please type your answers on a word processor and send me a .docx or PDF file by April 3, 2020.
For next week, please read the following article on English as a "killer language": Eckert, T., Johann, A. Kaenzig, A., Kueng, M. Mueller, B. Schwald, C. & Walder, L. (2014). Is English a 'killer language"? The globalisation of a code. eHistLing, 1.
For this class, you need to complete two tasks. First, answer the questions concerning the text you read for homework Second, find examples of English influencing Czech (or your native language) in terms of it replacing words in the language.
Please find 10 examples of English loanwords in Czech (or your native language) where the loanwords replace existing native language words. Frequently, loanword enter a language to account for a term/ concept that did not exist in the language before (for instance, computer in many languages). What interests us, however, is loanwords that replace existing words. The loanwords might not be perfect equivalents of the Czech (or other language) terms but are still being used in favor of a Czech (or other) words that would exist in the vocabulary.
1. Identify the 10 loanword examples and please provide translations for me (I am only good at English and German).
2. Speculate on why the English loanwords are replacing the native language terms and since when this process has been going on (a few sentences per loanword are fine). Maybe there are some interesting social, cultural, political, geographical (etc.) reasons behind some of the loanwords. Maybe it is purely practical as the loanword better describes a concept.
Please send me your analysis via email, as PDF or Word document, by Friday, April 10, 2020.
There will be no reading assignment for next week.
For those of you who haven’t done it yet, please go to the class survey I sent out a few days ago to rate the contents and work load of the class. Only few have done it so far.
Please download the files, open them in Powerpoint, and press F5 to make the screencast work. If you have problems doing so, contact me or your classmate and we can send you the file via email.
At least one presentation has small audio files linked to each powerpoint slide. You can click on those when you inspect a certain slide.
If you have any questions about a specific presentation, please send an email to your respective classmate.