Unformatted text preview: The Americanist Tradition
Anth/amcult/ling461 1/14, 23/08 Overview Defining the Americanist Tradition (AT) The role of language in AT Classifying languages Numbers of peoples and languages Powell, Sapir,... Greenberg, Nichols, ... Populations and languages: then and now The Americanist Tradition Anthropologists who do fieldwork with indigenous peoples of the Americas Method: textbased; derived from approaches elaborated by Boas and Sapir, and the BAE Dialogicallydriven theory Assumption of cultural relativism Darnell's Distinctive Features Language, culture and thought as inseparable Culture = system of symbols, in people's heads but require their explication Texts Preservation of knowledge "Traditional" cultures as not static Collaboration (as opposed to objectification) Longterm fieldwork And language? Origin of linguistic anthropology, the ethnography of speaking, and ethnopoetics For deriving systems of classification For establishing (undocumented) histories Classifying Languages Establish ("genetic") language relationships Infer relationships between groups of indigenous peoples based on "genetic" relationships between languages Establish an historical timeline based on these relationships and reconstruct population movements Establishing linguistic relationships The comparative method if form & meaning (being arbitrarily linked) are the same across languages, assume related assume regular, systematic sound change; related languages show regular sound correspondences Cognates: words that are similar in form and meaning Classifying peoples and languages Powell: relied on Gallatin's map and vocabulary Sapir: relied on vocabulary AND grammatical structure Concern with property Concern with time Finding the time Glottochronology = an approach to language history in which a statistical technique (lexicostatistics) is used to quantify how far languages have diverged from a common source. Lexicostatistics = a method for comparing rates of change in sets of words in hypothetically related languages. Swadesh & Lees Sample vocabulary Count number of similar words The lower the count, the longer the historical separation S & L: on average 2 languages would have 86% in common after 1,000 yrs. of separation Avoid geographically or culturally biased words Use pronouns, body parts, color terms, for example Some Problems: Assumption of unbiasedness; hard to assume a word list will have no cultural bias Rate of change may not be the same for all languages Incomplete word lists Misidentification of lexical sameness Mapping languages Coming to America Different migration routes and waves Evidence: linguistic, archaeological, dental, genetic Assume: greater variation, point of migration Dates for the Beringia Land Bridge 75,00045,000 years ago: accessible (open) 40,00025,000: periodically flooded (closed) 25,00014,000: accessible (open) 14,000 (closed) BC present: submerged *note that sources vary on these dates Research PuzzlesBeringia There are many problems with this seemingly simple idea. For instance, the supposed icefree corridor through the Yukon has not been confirmed geologically. Also, very few archaeological materials have been found there, which is odd if this was the main entryway for everyone into the continent. Precontact estimates: Aboriginal populations in North America 1, 150,000 to 4 million people Postcontact: Lowest point: Currently, over 6 million in the U.S. and almost 800,000 in Canada 1890 approx. 240,000 (U.S.) 1900 approx. 100,000 (Canada) Native Americans in the U.S. Population (2000) U.S. Total 100.0% American Indian and Alaska Native as the sole race American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with other race(s) 1.5% Count 281,421,906 2,475,956 4,119,301 Percent 0.9% Canada, 1996 Census 20% Sample Data Total population 28,528,125 NonAboriginal population 27,729,115 Aboriginal population 799,005 North American Indian: single response 529,040 Mtis single response 204,115 Inuit single response 40,220 Aboriginal multiple responses 6,420 Other Aboriginal response 19,220 source: http://www.statcan.ca/english/census96/jan13/can.htm Source: www.nativeculture.com/census2000/Data_List.htm Indigenous North American Languages Approximately 750 or more indigenous languages existed prior to European contact Approximately 210 250 indigenous languages still exist in Canada and the United States Approximately 175 are still spoken to varying extents in the U.S. today Classes of Languages (from Krauss 1998, see also 1996) N. America # (%) Class Speaker Generation(s) A B C D all including children 34 (16%) parents and up 70 yrs. old and up (< 10 speakers) 35 (17%) 57 (27%) grandparents and up 84 (40%) Most common North American languages today Navajo over 100,000 speakers; U.S. Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico) Cree approx. 80,000 speakers; Canada InuitInupiaq almost 70,000 speakers; Greenland and northern coasts of Canada and Alaska NUMBER OF SPEAKERS http://www.valpo.edu/geomet/pics/geo200/language/native_amer.gif Other extant NA languages ChoctawChickasaw 12,000 speakers in Mississippi and Oklahoma Micmac approx. 8,000 speakers in the maritime provinces of Canada Creek 10,000 speakers in Alabama, Florida, and Oklahoma There are still some monolingual preschool child speakers of Seminole Creek (FLA.) Some terms Agglutinative = ("inflective") affixes indicate relationship between words (Hungarian) Polysynthetic = multiple affixes indicating grammatical relationships (N. Tutchone) Analytic = sequences of free morphemes (Chinese) Gender = grammatical way of grouping words into distinct, formal classes NeoBoasian Anthropology Dereification of self/Native Other distinction A history of the present NO fetishization of the Other (counter to a Malinowskian fieldwork approach) Genealogy of rationalizations, or Boas' `untrustworthy' "secondary explanations" Thought for the Day "Because we cannot understand people's political practice without understanding where they are coming from, cultural description must remain on the agenda of any politically engaged anthropology." Daniel Rosenblatt, 2004 Or any politcally engaged social science... ...
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- Winter '08
- Native Americans in the United States, North American Languages