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ANT206Y5 – Culture and Communication: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology

Course: ANT206Y5 – Culture and Communication: Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology

Course Description

Anthropological Approaches to Language

This yearlong course sequence provides an introduction to the study of how language and culture are intertwined in everyday practice.  We will take an anthropological approach to language, that is, we will study language as that common human condition which is also a fundamental mode of difference and diversity across cultures and communities. The first semester of the course is designed to give students a basic grounding in anthropological linguistics and an outline of the major methodologies that have been developed to study the ways in which language, culture, and society are intertwined.

Spring 2011

This is the second half of a yearlong course.  The first half was taught by Dr. Francis Cody.
Time and Place: Wednesdays, 10-12, NE287.
Office: North bldg 242;  Office hours: by appointment, and:

Mondays 11-12, Wednesdays 3-4, Fridays 3-4.   “Virtual office hours” online at Blackboard: always glad to answer questions on our Blackboard discussion board.

Course texts:

*  Blum, Susan (ed.). 2008.  Making Sense of Language.  NY: Oxford University Press.


Unit 4. Language diversity in diverse societies


Week 1        [introduction]

January 5   Blum, cha. 13. Tom McArthur: “The Power of the World’s Languages”

January 6   no tutorials.
Week 2         [class and ethnicity]

January 12  Blum cha. 15. Edwin L. Battistella: “Bad Language: Bad Citizens”
January 13   Tutorials.  Blum, cha.  23. Dennis R. Preston: “They Speak Really Bad English Down South and in New York City”


Week 3         [race] January 19  Blum, cha. 27. Marcyliena Morgan: “‘Nuthin’ but a G Thang’: Grammar and Language Ideology in Hip Hop Identity” and Blum cha. 28. Mary Bucholtz: “The Whiteness of Nerds: Superstandard English and Racial Markedness” and
January 20   no tutorials.

Week 4           [multi-racial society] January 25  Blum, cha. 26. John R. Rickford: “Suite for Ebony and Phonics” and Blum cha. 29. Rusty Barrett: “Language Ideology and Racial Inequality: Competing Functions of Spanish in an Anglo-Owned Mexican Restaurant”
January 26  no tutorials.


Unit 5. Gender, language, and power

Week 5          [gender]

Feb 2    Blum, cha. 30, William M. O’Barr and Bowman K. Atkins: “‘Women’s Language’ or ‘Powerless Language’?”‘ and Blum, cha. 31, Janet Holmes: “Women Talk Too Much.”
Feb 3  Tutorials.  Blum cha. 32. Scott Fabius Kiesling: “Power and the Language of Men”

Week 6          [gender] February 9    Blum chapter 33, Deborah Cameron: “Performing Gender Identity: Young Men’s Talk and the Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity”;

February 10  Tutorials.  Blum, cha. 34, Elinor Keenan (Ochs): “Norm-Makers, Norm-Breakers: Uses of Speech by Men and Women in a Malagasy Community”

Week 7

Feb 16    MIDTERM examination.

Feb 17     no tutorials.
Week 8


Feb 23  no reading assigned
Feb 24  no reading assigned


Unit 6. Language in Social Action

Week 9    [discourse, performance, and ritual] March 2.  Blum cha. 36. Joel Sherzer: “Kuna Curing and Magic: Counseling the Spirits” and Blum, cha. 37, Susan D. Blum: “Naming Practices and the Power of Words in China”
March 3  no tutorials.
Week 10       [discourse, performance, and ritual]

March 9   Blum, cha. 38. Cheryl Wharry: “Amen and Hallelujah Preaching: Discourse Functions in African American Sermons”
and Blum cha. 39. Yanrong Chang: “Courtroom Questioning as a Culturally Situated Persuasive Genre of Talk”
March 10  no tutorials.
Week 11  [language ideology]

March 16  Blum, cha. 41. Don Kulick: “Anger, Gender, Language Shift, and the Politics of Revelation in a Papua New Guinean Village”

March 17.  Tutorials. Blum, cha. 42. Rosina Lippi-Green: “Accent, Standard Language Ideology, and Discriminatory Pretext in the Courts”
Unit 7.  Language: wither goest thou?
Week 12  [language endangerment and revitalization] March 23  Blum, cha. 20, John H. McWhorter: “Most of the World’s Languages Went Extinct”, Blum cha. 21. Lindsay J. Whaley: “The Future of Native Languages”, Blum cha. 22, Leanne Hinton: “Language Loss and Revitalization in California: Overview”
March 25  no tutorials.
Week 13   [paper submission and exam preparation] March 30   Paper due.  Please submit on UTM Submit, by 6PM. Hard copy (paper) due in class or in tutorial (3/31).  No reading assigned.  Exam review.
March 31.  Tutorials: exam review.

April 2-6    Study week.


April 19: FINAL EXAM.  Content features readings since the midterm.

Updated, March 21, 2011.
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