276boashow_languages_code_ideas

276boashow_languages_code_ideas - HOW LANGUAGES CODE IDEAS...

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HOW LANGUAGES CODE IDEAS Part I: The Contributions of Franz Boas
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Franz Boas 1858-1942
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Franz Boas (1858-1942) The “Boasian Synthesis” The Independence of Language, Race, and Culture The attack on the evolutionists, the coevality of all languages, and linguistic relativity Language as the site of encoding and reproduction of “the fundamental ethnic ideas” Local histories, diffusion as a major factor in culture history Individuals as interpreters and synthesizers Boas’s program is developed by Edward Sapir (1884-1939) , Benjamin Whorf (1897-1941), Dell Hymes (1927-), and foreshadows the emphasis on the local, the particular, and the human agent in contemporary anthropology
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Boas vs. Evolutionists in 19 th -C Anthropology The cultural evolution theorists (e.g. L. H. Morgan) argued for “stages” of human evolution – e.g., savagery, barbarism, and civilization – in which race, language, and culture were correlated. That is, “Savage” races had savage languages and savage cultures at a lower evolutionary grade than those seen in “barbarism.” In his “Introduction to the Handbook of American Indian Languages” (1911) Boas shows that this association between race, language, and culture cannot be true, using many illustrative examples.
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Boas on race, language, and culture “Still other cases may be adduced in which it can be shown that a people have retained their language while undergoing material changes in blood and culture, or in both. As an example of this may be mentioned the Magyar of Europe, who have retained their old language, but have become mixed with people speaking Indo- European languages, and who have, to all intents and purposes, adopted European culture” (Boas 1911)
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Boas on race, language, and culture An example of a failure of correlation of race and language: The Afro-Asiatic language family, which crosscuts the deepest genetic division among humans. (Boas’s generation couldn’t know this, but it’s a great example). The family includes Berber languages Chadic languages Egyptian languages Semitic languages Cushitic languages Beja language (Cushitic?) Omotic languages See map at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Afro-Asiatic.png See genetic distance tree at http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v33/n3s/images/ng1113-F1.gif
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Map of Afro-Asiatic Languages
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Humans
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276boashow_languages_code_ideas - HOW LANGUAGES CODE IDEAS...

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