Week Three

Week Three - September 9, 2008 ANTHRO 100 Week Three:...

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September 9, 2008 ANTHRO 100 Week Three: Language and Culture Semantic Universality o Referring to being able to talk about anything o Languages evolve and the way we speak English today, is not the same as it was spoken during the 18 th Century. Languages don’t change only to absorb new ideas, but they also change to express old ideas, just differently sound-wise Sometimes language is stretched to express things that don’t exist Languages also change with respect to sound o The meaning is going to be the same, but our dialects have changed Duality of patterning and semantic universality overlap in some sense, but they are different The language that we end up speaking in life is always one that is learned Language is universal in all societies but is structured differently in terms of sound and semantic differences Language is a precondition of culture o Without it we wouldn’t have a wide inventory of behavior, customs, etc that make up a culture o Language is also a determinant of the types of things a society talks about For example, eskimoes are known to have a very wide vocabulary to describe snow There is a sense in which language actually structures our thinking o Medium of thought o Without language, thinking would be very different Language influences the way people understand the world o Language defines experience o Language provides the categories for which our experience is understood and communicated Benjamin Whorf: hypothesis argues that there is an empirical reality out there, and the language learned at birth allows one to see and engage in those things, while other less significant matters are ignored o One approaches reality with a set of terms and concepts to understand the reality around them o The way one names their relatives gives one a conception of kinship space that one carries around in their mind o Distinction between dad and mom, cousin, brother and sister, etc. o You relate to someone you call brother or sister than you do an aunt or cousin Carlos Castineta Bloom: linguist o Gathered groups of children who were divided into three groups Offspring of Chinese parents Offspring of Western parents
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Offspring of mixed parents o Proceeded to present each of them with counter-factual statements o Interestingly, the children of the Chinese parents would almost inevitably confront the lack of logic o The mixed offspring had mixed responses o Confirmed that the Chinese children were linguistically reluctant to make statements in response to counter-factual statements o Preposterous conclusions At the Hong Kong University, at lunch, the professor was eating in the Senior common room with one of his colleagues (from China, but received his education from Santa Barbara, fluent in English) o
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This note was uploaded on 01/04/2009 for the course ANTH 100 taught by Professor Tell during the Fall '08 term at USC.

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Week Three - September 9, 2008 ANTHRO 100 Week Three:...

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