276communities - languages language community Fusha...

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Communities: The Social Organization of Language
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Communities: The Sociocultural Organization of Language Grammarians want to know how particular languages work, so they seek out and work with members of the language community ”: the group of people who speak the same language. BUT -- the “language community” may not be the right unit for answering many anthropological questions. SO – linguistic anthropologists have looked for other kinds of social organization that shape language use. These include “the speech community”, “the community of practice,” and “the imagined community”.
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Communities: The Sociocultural Organization of Language Why isn’t the “language community” always a good unit for research that aims to understand the way language works? Most people in the world are multilingual. Very often, this multilingualism is highly organized, e.g. Tulu for speaking, Kannada for writing (South India) English for work, Spanish for home (Southwestern U.S.) French for family, Russian for servants (19 th -century Russian nobility) Fusha (“Literary Standard/Classical Arabic”) for writing, public meda vs. Cairene Arabic for speaking in non-public contexts (Cairo, Egypt upper middle class)
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Communities: The Sociocultural Organization of Language Why isn’t the “language community” always a good unit for research that aims to understand the way language works? b. People who speak the same “language” may not only speak it differently (think “accents”), but use it in very different ways. Different ways of speaking what is grammatically the same language can lead to “ miscommunication ” : Some examples for English speakers: Gumperz’s South Asian cafeteria workers in England Paz Buenaventura Naylor’s Filipina nurses in U.S. Deborah Tannen’s high-involvement-style U.S. Easterners vs. low-involvement-style U.S. Westerners
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Communities: The Sociocultural Organization of Language Why isn’t the “language community” always a good unit for research that aims to understand the way language works? c. The problem of Linguistic inequality ”: Some kinds of usage are stigmatized -- even when everyone “speaks the same language”. This stigma must come from social evaluation, not from actual differential “capacity for language”, since this is a universal human capacity*.
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This note was uploaded on 05/06/2009 for the course ANTH 276 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Arizona- Tucson.

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276communities - languages language community Fusha...

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