cultural anthropology_chapter5notes

cultural anthropology_chapter5notes - Chapter 5: Language...

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Chapter 5: Language and Communication What is Language? Language – our primary means of communication (can either be spoken or written) Writing has existed for about 6,000 years; language originated thousands of years before that Transmitted through learning (part of enculturation) Based on arbitrary, learned associations between words and the things they stand for Only humans have the linguistic capacity to discuss the past and future, share their experiences with others, and benefit from their experiences. Anthropologists study language in its social and cultural context. o Linguistic anthropologists also explore the role of language in colonization and globalization. Nonhuman Primate Communication Call Systems Only humans can speak—no other animal has anything approaching the complexity of language Call systems – the natural communication systems of other primates (monkeys and apes) are call systems. o These vocal systems consist of a limited number of sounds ( calls ) that are produced only when particular environmental stimuli are encountered. o Although wild primates use call systems, the vocal tract of apes is not suitable for speech. Sign Language More recent experiments have shown that apes can learn to use, if not speak, true language through sign language Cultural transmission – transmission of a communication system through learning o Nonhuman primates trained in the laboratory have been shown to have the capacity for cultural transmission Productivity – creating new expressions that are comprehensible to other native speakers o Apes are able to use language productively Linguistic displacement – describing things and events that are not present o Absent in call systems, this is a key ingredient in language Page | 1
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Nonverbal Communication Kinesics – the study of communication through body movements, stances, gestures, and facial expressions. Although our gestures, facial expressions, and body stance have roots in our primate heritage, they have not escaped the influence of culture o The prevalence and meaning of body movements, facial expressions, and gestures vary cross-culturally o Body movements communicate social differences Animals communicate through odors, using scent to mark territories
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This note was uploaded on 03/26/2011 for the course SOC 258 taught by Professor Houser during the Spring '11 term at Lehigh Carbon CC.

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cultural anthropology_chapter5notes - Chapter 5: Language...

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