Boas was one of the first anthropologists to divert the field away from

Boas was one of the first anthropologists to divert

This preview shows page 16 - 18 out of 58 pages.

Boas was one of the first anthropologists to divert the field away from scientific racism. Aside from his critique of phenologists, he dispelled the belief that head size correlates with intelligence. In his study, he measured second generation immigrants and found that smaller head sizes are the result of nutritional deficiencies, not race -- - Boas addresses the problems that linguists had when recording languages with radically different phonetic systems than their own native language. - Linguists at the time (particularly Daniel Garrison Brinton, to whom the article was responding) argued that Native American languages had certain sounds that regularly alternated and that these alternating sounds were not a function of individual accents or mispronunciations -Brinton observed that in the spoken languages of many Native Americans, certain sounds regularly alternated. This is clearly not a function of individual accents; Brinton was not suggesting that some individuals pronounced certain words differently from others. >He was arguing that there were many words that, even when repeated by the same speaker, varied considerably in their vocalization. Using evolutionary theory, Brinton argued that this pervasive inconsistency was a sign of linguistic inferiority, and evidence that Native Americans were at a low stage in their evolution. -Boas recognized what Brinton was talking about as he, too, encountered this phenomenon while conducting fieldwork among the Inuit on Baffin Island as well as the Kwakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest. -But the more Boas considered this problem, the more uneasy he was with such conclusions. -So Boas applied his cultural relativist approach. He shifted attention away from the Indian languages to the linguists themselves and concluded that the issue was not with the language but with the ways that linguists apperceived (perceive a new experience in relation to past experiences) the sounds of the languages they were studying. In other words, there were no alternating sounds. The linguists were mishearing. -As evidence, Boas applied this thinking to his own studies of Inuit languages. He provided a list of a variety of spellings for given words, noting how researchers had interpreted differences based on their own native languages (for example, native English-speaking linguists will apperceive the pronunciations differently than native German-speaking linguists, thus they will spell the words in uniquely English or German ways).
Image of page 16
-Further, Boas also found that Native American speakers also misheard the sounds produced by the linguists’ native languages, demonstrating that the apperception went both ways. - This article had a major impact on linguistics, causing a fundamental shift in how linguists study new languages and bringing about the differentiation between phonemics also known as phonology ( the building and recognition of sounds in words ) and phonetics ( the physical structure of sounds in words ) Mead “ 2006...Coming of Age in Samoa”
Image of page 17
Image of page 18

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture