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Language Links #3

This piece does not reflect the official opinion of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology, its officers or its individual members.

One of the most important functions of this blog is to inform people of current work being done within linguistic anthropology. As part of this, all linguistic anthropologists are invited to discuss current publications including books and articles. Such discussions will not only be available on this blog site but also on the Linganth list, Twitter and (we hope) other forums as well.

As I just published a year in review article of linguistic anthropology in 2010, I thought this might be a good place to start.

Monaghan, Leila (2011) The Expanding Boundaries of Linguistic Anthropology: 2010 in Perspective. American Anthropologist 113(2): 222-234.

One of key themes of the piece is the “expanding boundaries” of our discipline, how new ways of looking at material are developing before our eyes. Richard Bauman observed that the bounded speech event “has been . . . quite productively . . . our primary unit of analysis since the first framing of the ethnography of speaking.” There has been a growing body of work that has broken away from this arbitrary division of the world into diachronic studies of specific language forms versus synchronic studies of communicative events. In 2010, there was a critical mass of historically oriented works leading to the identification of history as a central concept to be explored. The diachronic studies of 2010 were not the philology of Karl Brugmann and Sapir but, rather, an expansive range of forms influenced by the rich analytical frameworks developed since the 1960s based on close analysis of events.

Today’s linguistic anthropologists take for granted many of the ideas that were developed by previous generations. Our intellectual habitus includes the importance of ethnographic studies of speech events, performances, conversation, genre, and language ideologies; the interdiscurvity and intertextuality of these language forms; and the ongoing co-construction of language, culture, political power, and identities. The expanding boundaries of linguistic anthropology in 2010 that I look at in this June 2011 American Anthropologist review are elaborations and rethinkings of these concepts, not rejections.