Anthro 4 Final

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langue vs. parole

langue refers to the underlying system of language, including rules, structures, and conventions of language (language system in abstract) whereas parole is everyday speech, such as words or phrases used by people (Saussure)

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5 basic components of language

phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics

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the study of sound in language, to know a language you must recognize and produce the sounds and phonemes. Or in some cases the nonverbal gestures.

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decontextualize the study of language by keeping elements of culture separate, abstract knowledge of language is more important than performance, indexicality example of a link and a pattern such as a the word tree making you think of a tree, defined a speech community(body of linguistic data abstract from social analysis)

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Chomsky and poverty of stimulus

The acquisition of language obviously requires 'input' (aka 'a stimulus') which would be the utterances that are spoken to the child. Chomsky argues that the stimulus the child is exposed to is simply too poor (hence 'poverty of') to explain how the child can acquire such a complex system as the mental grammar.

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semiotics(the study of signs), meaning making has three components; signs that stand for something, objects that are what the sign stands for, interpretation are the image the sign creates for the object. There are three types of signs; icon(object referred to by similarity), index( categorical), symbol(virtue of convention), very related to indexical signs. Meaning making and iconics

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people are loosely structured: not completely free agents nor scrupted robots, predisposed but not predetermined to act, think, and speak in certain ways-- practice theory

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debunked language gap, speech communities. Sociolinguist interested in differences in speaker identity and social identity in speakers and how that manifests in the way they talk.

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Performativity: speech act theory in famous book (How to do things with words), some words “do” things rather than “say” them. Austin was a philosopher of language and his work reflected this perspective as it was developed through intuition

  • performatives: words that “do” things; ex. “I pronounce you husband and wife”- brings change in the world only if it is felicitous (someone with power to achieve act, in this case someone who is ordained)

  • revised categories: locution, illocution, perlocution

  • issues with performativity: all utterance actions have consequences and are performative to an extent, may not be valid in all cultures, focused only on english

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studied the relationship between power and knowledge→social control through institutions

  • proposes way of thinking based on power relations

  • power is not held by individuals or institutions, but emerges through relations between actions


  • dominance and governmentality: power relations result in domination; complex forms of power constituted by institutions are called governmentality

  • macro-level structures shape language: large scale power relations governing langauge (Discourses) can be seen in the way people converse (discourses)

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the idea that language serves many functions and is multimodal, beyond simply communicating information, it communicates values, attitudes, and serves many functions. it can reveal and reinforce hierarchy, convey values, create multimodal dissonance to resist authority, and shapes many things about our experience. it is important to recognize the multifunctionality in anthropology because it is through that, that we are able to understand the encompassing human experiences of language.

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language ideology

ideas we hold about language, that aren't necessarily good or bad, but are beliefs about language and its use. language ideologies can create and reinforce inclusion, as well as exclusion and racism. examples of language ideologies are, “you should speak with formal english grammar.” “we should preserve all languages.” “words are just as powerful as actions.” being able to recognize these ideologies is important because it influences how people use language, and perceive language, including ourselves as anthropologists.

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the way in which language is actually used. the action and lived experience of language, as opposed to its formal existence alone. The way in which humans realistically interact with language. this is important because this is the largely human and anthropological part of our study of language.

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The identification of precise ways where language and social relations intersect. For example, words like "here," "there," "now," and "then" are indexical because their meaning depends on the spatial and temporal context of the utterance. Indexicality is important because it highlights the way in which language is not just a system of symbols with fixed meanings, but is instead a dynamic tool for communication that is shaped by the social and cultural context in which it is used. It also shows how language use can be used to signal social and cultural identity, as well as to establish and maintain social relationships.

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icon (peirce)

\n direct natural association to the thing it represents. Refers by similarity, for example “meow” due to what it represents.

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index (peirce)

points to something it represents. smoke points to fire for example

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symbol (peirce)

abstract or arbitrary association to the thing it represents, refers to object through convention. for example, a red hexagon means “stop.”

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indexicality in time and space

Indexicality is closely related to references of time or space because expressions that refer to time or space are often inherently linked to the context in which they are used. For example, the expression "now" is an indexical because its meaning depends on the time at which it is used. Similarly, the expression "here" is an indexical because its meaning depends on the location of the speaker.

Here's an example that illustrates the indexical features of references to time and space:

"Can you meet me at the restaurant on Main Street at 7 PM tonight?" In this example, the expressions "restaurant on Main Street" and "7 PM tonight" are both indexical because their meaning depends on the context in which they are used. The phrase "restaurant on Main Street" is indexical to the location of the speaker, as it assumes that the speaker and listener are in the same geographic area. The phrase "7 PM tonight" is indexical to the time at which the speaker is making the request, and its meaning will change as time passes.

The indexical features of these expressions are important because they help to situate the communication in a specific time and place, and to establish a shared context between the speaker and listener. Without these indexical references, it would be difficult to understand the meaning of the request, as it would lack the necessary context to give it meaning.

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evidence for gesture and speech

Gesture precedes and predicts language > helps children make sense of the world around them (not just language, but culture and societal expectations)

*certain gestures are reinforced through certain phrases/words

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research methods in linguistic anthro

participant observation, surveys, interviews, recording and coding natural language, matched guise study

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animator (goffman)

the person giving life to or voicing the language. the literal speaker, the voice actor, etc.

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author (goffman)

the person who composed the speech, could be the speaker, could be a speech writer, could be a screenplay writer, etc.

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principal (goffman)

the person whose ideas are represented, the ideals conveyed. Could be the animator, could be the author, or in instance of animation/tv, would be the actual fictional character for whom the language was written

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shifts in footing

Shifts in footing are when the the role of the speaker changes such as code switching and shifting from the roles above

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two main propositions of language socialization

  1. Language is learned through social interaction: Language socialization researchers emphasize that language learning is a social process that occurs through interaction with other speakers. Children learn to use language by observing and imitating the speech of others, and by receiving feedback and guidance from more experienced speakers. This social interaction is shaped by cultural norms and values, and helps to transmit these norms and values to the next generation.

  2. Language is culturally and socially situated: Another key proposition of language socialization is that language use is shaped by cultural and social factors. Language use is not simply a matter of acquiring a set of grammatical rules, but is closely tied to cultural practices, values, and beliefs. For example, the way in which language is used to show respect or politeness varies across different cultural contexts, and children must learn these cultural norms and conventions in order to use language appropriately in those contexts.

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linguistic relativity

language influences thought or worldview- sapir-whorf hypothesis

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linguistic determinism

language determines thought, forces speakers to think in a certain way

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operationalizing a variable of study

to determine and try to create a solid system of standardization for a variable. To create an “operation” through which it can be controlled and/or understood.

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speech register

linguistic repertoire that is associated (culture internally) with particular social practices and with persons who engage in such practices.

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code switching

Moving between different forms of languages depending on who you’re talking to, (might have fuzzy language for informal speaking and more enunciated language when talking to official people)

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code mixing

Combining multiple languages into one as a way of potentially describing something more accurately, an example is Spanglish.

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why anthropologists prefer literacies over literacy

Literacy is more general; a universal literacy of language in itself.

Literacies are more specific; depending on the context you are in, you may have a varying degree of literacy. As such, you may be very literate in one societal context, but less literate in another (e.g., informal talk v. professional environment)

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ideologies of online language

capitalization (ALL CAPS, no caps) = stylistic choice, periods at the end of sentences, emojis for nuance

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emojis don’t have static meanings

meaning changes very frequently, used to add emotion or nuance, and are typically icons, but become symbols through frequent meaning change

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affordance and online platforms

affordances: ways of engaging with text, images, and other uses, like how you use the site, what you can do, what is easy to do, etc.

  • each online space allows different forms of engagement: snapchat v instagram v tiktok

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three main approaches to performance

performance as related to competence, performativity as production of speech acts that achieve actions in the world, performance as verbal artistry

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performance as related to competence

recall Chomsky, performance v competence: actual use of language in concrete situations (p) v ideal speaker-listener who knows language perfectly and is unaffected by memory and other distractions/limitations

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performance as artistry

Bauman: language becomes a display, and evaluation of this display becomes critical

  • heightened attention to HOW something is done

  • poetic function in Jakobsen’s multifunctional model

  • each speech community has ways of keying performances

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Austin: production of speech acts that achieve actions in the world

  • performatives accompanied by I, either felicitous or infelicitous

  • constatives and performatives are difficult to distinguish: locution, illocution, perlocution

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Speech Act Theory (Austin)

some words “do things” (performatives), others “say” things (constatives)

  • includes 3 categories for speech acts:

    1. locution: stating something with meaning in the traditional sense

    2. illocution: doing something instantaneously through speaking it, encompasses performatives, (think “I pronouce,” “I order”)

    3. perlocution: consequences of having said something

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MEANING/stating something with meaning in the traditional sense

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FORCE/doing something instantaneously through speaking it, encompasses performatives, (think “I pronouce,” “I order”)

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EFFECTS/consequences of having said something

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Butler and gender performativity

gender is not something we have but something we do through words, acts, clothes, choices of activity

  • doing is performative

  • agrees with Austin that “To sayis to do” but changes it to “to say or do is to BE”

  • social and linguistic acts create gender categories

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markers of performance

performances can be indexed or keyed in different ways based on different languages and cultures

  • genre specific openings (once upon a time)

  • particular codes

  • poetic language

  • formal stylistic devices (rhyme)

  • voice quality (pitch)

  • reference to traditions

  • disclaimers/metalinguistic commentary (I get stage fright)

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Jones and Shweder on magician

performance of illusion, study of apprentice learning a new trick→ narrative is key to performance and shaped audience’s perception of the trick, making it as important as the trick itself

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co-construction and performance

joint construciton of a thing (form, interpretation, stance, action, identity, etc) by people engaging with it

  • doesn’t require agreement

  • refers to the way meanings and events emerge out of interaction between different people, institutions, and practices

  • argues that many things (particularly meanings) are not made or decided by one person

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four central characteristics to concept of gender

  1. Gender is learned: children unconsciously adopt or are explicitly taught gender norms

  2. Gender is collaborative: accomplished through interaction with others

  3. Gender is not something we have but something we do: aka Butler and how gender is performative

  4. gender involves asymmetry: similar to diglossia, one form is considered more prestigious than the other

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Eckert and McConnell-Ginet

came up with communities of practice

criteria, which focus on the social engagement of members:

  1. mutual engagement

  2. joint enterprise

  3. shared repertoire


in high school there are “jocks" and “burnouts,” who both value coolness, whereas “nerds” reject coolness

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marked speech and gender

markedness is the existence of two or more forms of language in which one is highlighted as different from the other

  • marked speech indicates deviation from this norm

  • in english, women’s speech is a deviation from the default and is MARKED

  • root forms are male, add -ess, -ette, -trix to be female

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unmarked speech and gender

masculine language is the default in many languages, so when a single form is used, it is masculine

  • “hey guys” not “hey gals”

  • hebrew and arabic as examples

  • this marked male speech unmarked, as it is standardized and does not typically deviate from the norm

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collective nouns to markedness and gender

not all languages have pronouns that assign gender, some have more than two, some have additional categories too

  • however, masculine is typically the default for collective nouns→ typical to use plural male form in other languages when there is a mixed gender group

  • marked version is typically female (ex actress v actor, actor is standard when gender is unknown or profession is mentioned

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common ideologies about men’s and women’s speech

we assume differences, ex. we assume one is cooperative and one is competitive, or that girls gossip more than boys

  • ex in sports context, men are 3x more likely to be mentioned than women, who are described in regards to non sporting issues (age, marital status, appearance)

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false gendered speech ideologies

Meta analysis looking at gender differences across studies found little variation, rather within gender variation was larger than between gender variation

  • Candy Goodwin’s studies on girl groups found both cooperative and competitve speech depending on context

  • ideas on what is feminine or masculine speech changes over time and from place to place

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mock language and indexicality

borowing of words or imitating patterns of speech that index a dialect, language, or register, often used to make fun or a group or to index a trait associated with group

  • has both indirect and direct indexicality: Hill’s study of mock Spanish found that people use mock Spanish to directly index being laid back/unfussy/funny/cosmopolitan, BUT this indirectly indexes stereotypes about Spanish-speakers

  • ex no problemo or time for a siesta

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double standards of bilingual fluency

race based perceptions→ white bilinguals are perceived as more educated, and are applauded for their use of non-English whereas bilingual POC are often criticized for their performance in both languages

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differing discourses of race and ethnicity

identity formation through language practice is complex and multifaceted

  • Bucholtz’s 2009 study on Laotian American high schoolers: 2 young women, one indexes urban Black culture and uses AAVE, one adopts SAE and indexes “model minority” status→ similar ethnic backround, differing linguistic choices

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African American Vernacular English: rule based with distinct phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics

  • most African Americans can fluently code switch between SAE and AAE, some don’t use AAE

  • Charateristics include invariant or habitual “be,” copula deletion, double negatives, reduction of final consonants, pronounciation of aks,

  • all of these characteristics allow for greater range of temporal possibilities than SAE

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linguistic profiling

Matched guise test: using one code vs. another, reflects language ideologies based on race

  • ex. names on resumes

  • listeners perceive ideas conveyed in non-native accents as less accurate

  • perception of English with image of White woman versus image of East Asian woman: when listeners perceive accent, they remember fewer details of speech, illustrating discounting of non-white speakers

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categorical perception

all languages use subset of same sound space, but categories are imposed thus people perceive stimuli that vary continuously as belonging to discrete categories rather than continuous variations

  • implies listeners are more sensitive to differences between sounds that fall on either side of a category boundary than to differences within a category

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how infants use statistics in early language learning

babies are always listening, and identify contrastive sounds signaling a change in meaning (phonemes), which vary based on language exposure

  • s→ t is high frequency (likely within), r→f is low frequency (likely between)

  • statistical structure of language important for word segmentation

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measuring perception in a preverbal infant

head turn preference procedure high-amplitude sucking method, seeing repeated habituation of stimuli

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transition probabilities

statistical likelihood of one linguistic unit being followed by another

  • word segementation: identify boundaries in continuous speech

  • use statistical learning to detect regularities and patterns in language of exposure

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word boundaries

infants have to identify where one word ends and another begins, rather than a continuous stream of sound

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infants at birth

newborns orient to human faces and imitate facial expressions

  • rooting reflex: turn head towards a touch on the cheek

  • sucking and grasping reflex

sensory perception: hear, see, and respond to certain stimuli

basic motor skills: spontaneous movements

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infants at 6 months

follow gaze to object, vocal control increases, babbling (repeated syllables, mimics)

gross and fine motor skills = prepare for crawling, can reach and grasp objects intentionally

  • babytalk→ babbling, may respond to name, imitate simple sounds, engage in vocal turn taking

  • adults can discriminate between babbling in different languages 75% of the time

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infants at 12 months

follow gaze of others, use adults as reference points, copy actions directed to objects, direct adult attention through gaze and gesture

start pointing → awareness of others as intentional agent, joint attention to external object (referential triangle w/ parent, child, and something of interest)

  • imperative (gimme that; acquire items) precedes declarative (what’s that?; create learning opportunities)

  • onset of first words is not related but type of first words are

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9 month revolution

joint attention to an external object and gaze checking emerges, creating shared intentionality

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referential triangle

process of joint attention to an external object, triadic interaction (parent, child, object), gaze checking, shared individuality

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how the learning environment changes when children start pointing

creates the start of awareness of others as intentional agent and attention to an external object; infants aim to repair communication when they make mistakes

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imperative vs. declarative points

imperative: to request things, continuum from forcing to suggesting

declarative: show/tell

  1. expressive

  2. informative

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homesign (and why it is not gesture)

discrete, not holistic, and meaning does not depend on context-→ shows more complexity, systematically, and structure

features: consistent word order, designation of thematic role, recursion, questions, negation, past/future

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deictic gesture

indexing gesture, pointing to something

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iconic gesture

gesture has a natural direct association with speech content (this is a type of representational gesture)

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metaphoric gesture

abstract connection to the speech content (this is a type of representational gesture)

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conventional gesture in multimodality

helps in creating manual reference through symbols/associations; nonverbal communication where specific hand movements or motions carry conventialized meanings

  • ex. nodding and shaking heads

  • thumbs up gesture

  • culturally and socially learned

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stone tools, art, and the origin of language

  • ability to create and manipulate tools represents advanced cognitive abilities and is considered a precursor to language→ making such tools may include an early form of communication

  • creation and interpretation of art requires the ability to communicate and understand abstract concepts

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tradeoff between flexibility and predictability

the balance between the creative and generative nature of language and the need for predictability and rules for effective communication and comprehension

  • flexible enough for creative expression

  • predictable enough for communication

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human speech production

airstream, vocal source, filters

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vocal fold vibration creates fundamental frequency; disrupt airflow, vocal folds= vibrating tissue in larynx creating frequency based on vibration and influences perceived pitch

increasing tension increases speed and thus pitch

(syrinx in birds, nasal cavity in toothed whales)

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format frequencies from vocal tract resonance

  • formant change: a-e-i-o-u, changes shape of vocal tract

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comparative method for the evolution of language

examine last common ancestor and then look at the use of language in ancestors like monkeys

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communication games and the evolution of language

used to discern what drives similarities in different human languages (cultural? innate? semiotic? cognitive?)

strengths: show how communicative conventions and structures emerge in modern humans and test relative important of variables like goal of interaction, feedback, clarity of channel

weaknesses: not good at telling us how humans evolved capacity for language

  1. use people who are already proficient in a language and remove their ability to use that language

  2. ask them to perform tasks that require communication to succeed usually in coordinated or cooperative behavior

  3. simulate emergence of new communication systems

  4. look for changes over time in success of communication and structure and complexity of system

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dynamic system of domination based on political, cultural, and institutional influence

  • a general predominance which includes a particular way of seeing the world

  • helps understand social status and cultural dominance

  • ways of talking and acting that are hegemonic seem like “the way things are done”

  • subordination of lived groups

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that which is taken for granted, goes without saying

  • closely tied with power

  • includes every social norm and value that is not debated within a society

  • things that are debated are called orthodoxy or heterodoxy

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doxa into opinion back to doxa

heterdoxy is against status quo, orthdoxy is in favor of it

  • things move in and out of doxa over time

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symbolic capital

those who are able to speak in highly valued ways in appropriate contexts-- Bordieu

  • related to economic capital-- the more you have, the more likely to acquire symbolic capital in form of matery of dialect or registers→ greater professional success

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competence vs. performance

competence is the abstract and unconscious knowledge of the rules of language (grammar, vocab, syntax) whereas performance is putting your ideas of the language into practice (Chomsky)

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the study of the internal structure of words or morpheme a unit of meaning to separate the meaning of a words individual part

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the structure of sentence structure

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the study of the meaning in language such as analysis of words and sentences

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the study of the use of language such as narratives and performances; implicative language

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Ochs and Schieffelin

self lowering(simplifying speech) and child raising (addressing the child as linguistically competent); language socialization

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Jakobson’s multifunctional model

referential (context): to communicate pure information. “that is a rock”

expressive (addressee):to communicate emotions or attitudes of the speaker.

conative: engages addressee directly; showing interest. “Tom! Let’s dance!”

poetic (message): word choice (diction)

metalinguistic (Code): discussion about language itself. “why can’t i say the right things”

phatic (contact): reaching out to connect, establishing connection or maintaining relationships. “are you doing ok?”

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language shapes thought and culture, linguistic relativity or categories, language->thought->culture and back, influence of language on perception, grammaticaL categories such as habitual, obligatory, and unconscious; color, space, time.the nature of power, the nature of human agency, the opposition between universality and diversity.

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emblematic gesture

iconic gestures that have conventionalized meaning (this is a type of representational gesture)

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beats gesture

can mark separation in narrative, counting, or emphasis

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speech community

  • e.g. women’s volleyball and men’s basketball have their own communities

  1. Frequent interaction

  2. Shared “verbal repertoire” – niche slang that others may not understand

    1. Don’t have to share a dialect/language

  3. Shared set of norms (language ideologies)

    1. Not all members must speak the same way

      1. “The speech community is not defined by any marked agreement in the use of language elements so much as by participation in a set of shared norms”

      2. More so just shared speech/norms

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communities of practice

  • e.g. all athletes on campus

  1. Mutual Engagement

  2. Joint Enterprise

  3. Shared Repertoire

    1. Focused on the social engagement of members; what people are doing/how they are interacting

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matched guise test

same person, different languages or accents, control for natural variation in voice features

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