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Unformatted text preview: Language, Belief & Signs of Recognition
Anthrcul/Amcult/Ling 461 March 5, 2008 Meek "Users of markedly different grammars are pointed by their grammars toward different types of observations and different evaluations of extremely similar acts of observation, and hence are not equivalent as observers but must arrive at somewhat different views of the world." Benjamin Lee Whorf Introduction Multitude of approaches to studying the interrelatedness of language and culture Politeness routines: speaking, hierarchy W. Apache placenames: verb phrases, moral sentiments; word play/puns, identity Seneca preaching & chanting: grammar & intonation, responsibility Nootka abnormal ways of speaking: grammar, social difference "Abnormal" Nootka Speech
(see Sapir 1958) "baby talk": add 'is "big talk": add aq' "small talk": add 'is and palatalize sibilants (s to sh, ts to ch, etc.) yahl'alma' (there he is) "lefthanded talk": add 'is > yahltcha'is'alma' "there and tcha he is, poor little left handed chap!" qwsma' (s/he does so) > qws'isma' > qwsaq'ma' > qwsh'ishma' Nootka"Hunchback talk" Add 'is (i) and change all [s] to retroflex [ts] (marked by "c" in (ii)) qwsma' "he is doing something" (i) qws'isma' (ii) qwc'icma' Outline Historical overview of defining the relationship between language, culture (signs/practice), and thought (belief) Interpreting LR Investigating LR Summary: Language, culture & thought Beyond LR: Language Ideology Hollywood and Indians: an example Historical overview of LR Interrelatedness most provocatively imagined as Lingusitic Relativity In Anthropology, most famously known as "The SapirWhorf Hypothesis" Von Humboldt: "Man lives with the world about him principally, indeed...exclusively as language presents it." Language is "the embodiment of a ...world view... (mediating) between the nature of reality and human understanding." [Weltanschauung] Boas "[T]he categories of language compel us to see the world arranged in certain definite conceptual groups." yet, "...the form of the language will be moulded by the state of the culture." Sapir "The fact of the matter is that the `real world' is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group." "No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same reality." Whorf "It is in [language's] constant ways of arranging data and its most ordinary everyday analysis of phenomena that we need to recognize the influence it has on other activities, cultural and personal." particular grammar, and differs...between different grammars." "Formulation of ideas...is part of a Interpreting LR Such statements have suggested to some that each language shapes a speaker's perception of the world differently. Two early interpretations/versions: [weak] Language influences thought. [strong] Language determines thought. Linguistic forms are prior to other forms of knowledge (and understanding). What is language? Grammar Speech patterns and styles Discourse, metaphors, and rhetoric What's perception? Visual processing Cognitive processing Categorization Ideology ("understanding" or "worldview") What's your perception? What do you see? Investigating LR Psychologicallybased experiments Color terms Initially considered ideal example of LR Berlin & Kay showed limited categorical range of color terms crosslinguistically Through experimental work B & K showed that visual perception trumped language Focused solely on (decontextualized) lexemes Relied on English for defining an `objective' reality Ignored "culture" Problems: Widespread in human languages More animate entities: Animacy hierarchies More likely subjects of passives, agents of transitive verbs, and topicalized Navajo: Hastiin l yiztal. Man horse yikick The man kicked the horse Hastiin l biztal. Man horse bikick The horse kicked the man *L hastiin yiztal/ biztal *Horse man yi/bikick Consider English "hit" or "hit against" Also grammaticized in classificatory verbs (Basso) Part of Navajo (Athabaskan) "worldview" Finding Whorfian Effects English Gendered Pronouns Noun phrases & Pluralization "creates a particular cultural hegemony, the unquestioned acceptance, by both men and women, of men as a normative, unmarked category of person." (Hill & Mannheim 1992) John Lucy shows that English and Yucatec grammars classify and pluralize noun phrases differently such that speakers of these languages attend differently to the sorting and grouping of objects English => pluralization, number, shape; notice change in number Yucatec => "unitization" (numeral classifiers), substance, material; change in number not noticeable Language, Thought & Culture NOT autonomous Intertwined/interrelated/intersecting Emergent & mutually constitutive Limited to specific, highly habituated forms Beyond LR Metaphor & Cultural Schema categories Basso Semiotics & Indexicality relationships Sapir (Kroskrity) Ethnolinguistic Identities & Discourse conceptualization Trechter (Kroskrity) Language Ideology As ideational; referring to mental phenomena As derived from, rooted in, reflective or responsive to material and practical human experience As directly linked to positions of power, maintained through discourses and signifying practices As distortion, illusion, error, mystification or rationalization Hollywood and Indians: Ideologized elements of language Talking Hollywood Injun Hollywood Injun English, imagined style of speech used by Hollywood Indians Has some superficial similarities with real life varieties of AIE Potent, covert way to reinforce conventionalized, demeaning Indian imagery Can be found in movies, grocery stores, newspapers, fiction, graffiti... Greeting Cards HIE & Movies Maverick Peter Pan Indian in the Cupboard The Green Mile Disney's Pocahontas 1 & 2 Lexical "Totems" Ugh! For many moons Heap big lie Princess Swirling Waters Princess Charging Gold Card; Chief Wahoo
"Fun fake totems" http://users.imag.net/~sry.jkramer/nativetotems/de fault.html Grammatical "Totems" No tense: No article: "Smoke too much tobacco." [cf. He smokes too much...] "Uh, Indian law say death be private thing." "Whiteman been doing it for years, but much wampum needed." "him loose"; "me go find" No auxiliary verb: Pronoun substitution: Not just for Indians... (from Maverick) Foreigner No tense, line 2: Indian No tense, line 20: No contraction, line 17: No movement, line 16: "I kill[ed] every animal in sight." No article, line 26: "Smoke too much tobacco." "Uh, Indian law say death be [a] private thing." "It does not seem sporting." No auxiliary verb, lines 11,12: "You would not have to tie him?" Pronoun substitution: "him loose"; "me go find" "Whiteman [has] been doing it for years, but much wampum [is] needed." ...another "mock" style Linguistic performance Linguistic performance & representation HIE is NOT AIE Awareness is limited Imagined similarities are superficial Linguistic representation Underscores conventionalized imagery Socializes novices into this imagery Renders the image interpretable (meaningful) and malleable "Paleface speak with forkedtongue. This land is ours as long as grass grows and river flows." from the Knoxville News Sentinel, 1/3/1999 "Drinkem lots `o firewater." Statement on a banner protesting the removal of the University of North Dakota sports mascot ("Fighting Sioux") (Farnell 2004) HIE: An Ideology of Indian Speech? As ideational; referring to mental phenomena As derived from, rooted in, reflective or responsive to material and practical human experience As directly linked to positions of power, maintained through discourses and signifying practices As distortion, illusion, error, mystification or rationalization ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course ANTHRO 461 taught by Professor Meek during the Winter '08 term at University of Michigan.
- Winter '08