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Living Language An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2021-03-08
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Supplemental Materials

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A new, fully revised edition of this bestselling textbook in linguistic anthropology, updated to address the impacts of globalization, pandemics, and other contemporary socio-economic issues in the study of language

Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology has introduced thousands of students to the engaging and compelling field of linguistic anthropology. Now in a new, fully updated and revised third edition, this bestselling textbook provides a student-friendly exploration of language as a social and cultural practice. Covering both theory and real-world practice, this clear and highly accessible textbook examines the relationship between language and social context while highlighting the advantages of an ethnographic approach to the study of language. The third edition includes a timely new chapter that investigates how technologies such as social media and online meetings have changed language. The new edition also considers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on linguistic practices, ensuring that this text will be a valuable resource for students for years to come. This insightful text:

  • Offers an engaging introduction to the field of linguistic anthropology
  • Features all-new material covering contemporary technologies and global developments
  • Explains how language use is studied as a form of social action
  • Covers nonverbal and multimodal communication, language acquisition and socialization, the relationship between language and thought, and language endangerment and revitalization
  • Explores various forms of linguistic and social communities, and discusses social and linguistic differentiation and inequality along racial, ethnic, and gender dimensions

Requiring no prior knowledge in linguistics or anthropology, Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, Third Edition, is the perfect textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in introductory linguistic anthropology as well as related courses in sociolinguistics, sociology, and communication.

Author Biography

Laura M. Ahearn is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist who has conducted research in Nepal on agency, language, and changing marriage practices. Formerly a tenured professor at Rutgers University, she is currently a Senior Learning Advisor at Social Impact, a global development management consulting firm, where she studies and supports the implementation of USAID's Digital Development Strategy. She is the author of Invitations to Love: Literacy, Love Letters, and Social Change in Nepal.

Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

List of Tables xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

Part I Language: Some Basic Questions 1

1 The Socially Charged Life of Language 3

So, What Do You Need to Know in Order to “Know” a Language? 9

Examples of Linguistic Diversity 13

Examples of Diversity in Research Topics in Linguistic Anthropology 17

Keith Basso 18

Marjorie Harness Goodwin 18

Bonnie Urciuoli 19

Alessandro Duranti 20

Kathryn A. Woolard 20

James M. Wilce 21

Key Terms in Linguistic Anthropology 21

Multifunctionality 22

Language Ideologies 24

Practice 26

Indexicality 29

The Inseparability of Language, Culture, and Social Relations 33

2 Gestures, Sign Languages, and Multimodality 35

Bakhtin’s Double-Voiced Discourse 37

Goffman’s Participation Framework and Production Format 38

Speech and the Analysis of Conversation 39

Gestures and Other Forms of Embodied Communication 42

Sign Languages 47

Poetry, Whistled Languages, Song, and Images 50

3 The Research Process in Linguistic Anthropology 54

What Kinds of Research Questions Do Linguistic Anthropologists Formulate? 55

What Kinds of Data Do Linguistic Anthropologists Collect, and with What Methods? 57

Participant Observation 58

Interviews 58

Surveys and Questionnaires 60

Naturally Occurring Conversations 60

Experimental Methods 62

Matched Guise Tests 63

Written Texts 64

How Do Linguistic Anthropologists Analyze Their Data? 64

What Products Do Linguistic Anthropologists Generate from their Research? 67

What Sorts of Ethical Issues Do Linguistic Anthropologists Face? 68

4 Language Acquisition and Socialization 72

Language Acquisition and the Socialization Process 74

Gaps in the “Language Gap” Approach 78

Language Socialization in Bilingual or Multilingual Contexts 81

Language Socialization throughout the Lifespan 84

Conclusion 88

5 Language, Thought, and Culture 90

A Hundred Years of Linguistic Relativity 91

The Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis 94

Investigating the Effects of Language on Thought 97

Language-in-General 98

Linguistic Structures 102

Color 106

Space 108

Time 110

Language Use 111

Conclusion 117

Part II Global Communities of Speakers, Hearers, Readers, and Writers 121

6 Global Communities of Multilingual Language Users 123

Defining “Speech Community” 124

Size and Location of the Community 124

What is Shared by the Members of a Speech Community? 125

The Type of Interactions that Speech Community Members Have 125

Alternatives to the Concept of “Speech Community” 129

Speech Areas 129

Speech Networks 130

Communities of Practice 132

Multilingual and Transnational Linguistic Practices 136

Diglossia, Code-Mixing, and Code-Switching 144

Diglossia 145

Code-Switching 146

Code-Mixing 148

Heteroglossia 151

Conclusion 152

7 Literacy Practices 153

Literacy Events vs. Literacy Practices 155

“Autonomous” vs. “Ideological” Approaches to Studying Literacy 156

Some Examples of Situated Literacy Research 158

Preschool Literacy Practices in the Southeastern United States 158

Pema Kumari’s letter 162

Love-letter Writing in Nepal 164

Instant Messaging: More like Speech or Writing? 166

8 Online Communities and Internet Linguistic Practices 170

Online Literacy Practices 171

Capitalization, Punctuation, and Emojis 172

Online Communities, Relationships, and Social Media 175

Who’s Zoomin’ Who? 177

Online Avatars 179

So Close and yet so Far 183

Conclusion 185

9 Performance, Performativity, and the Constitution of Communities 186

Performance Defined in Opposition to Competence 188

Performativity 189

Performance as a Display of Verbal Artistry 197

Ethnographies of Performance and Performativity 200

Part III Language, Power, and Social Differentiation 211

10 Language and Gender 213

What is Gender, and How Does it Relate to Language? 215

Do Men and Women Speak Alike or Differently? 221

Do Women and Men of All Ages and All Ethnic, Racial, and Cultural Backgrounds Share the Same Gendered Differences in Their Language Use? 233

Some Thoughts on Myths and Realities 237

11 Language, Race, and Ethnicity 240

Defining Race and Ethnicity 241

The Rule-Governed Nature of African American English 246

Invariant or Habitual “Be” 248

Copula Deletion 249

Double Negatives 250

The Reduction of Final Consonants 251

Pronouncing the Word “Ask” as “Aks” 252

Racist Language and Racism in Language 253

Language and Racial/Ethnic Identities 258

Conclusion 261

12 Language Endangerment and Revitalization 262

Enumerating the Crisis: How Many Endangered Languages are There? 265

What Dies When a Language Dies? 270

Why Do Languages Die? 276

Can Endangered Languages Be Saved? 278

Conclusion 280

13 Conclusion: Language, Power, and Agency 281

What is Power? 283

Hegemony 284

Foucault’s Power Relations and Discourse 285

Practice Theory and Power 287

Agency 298

The Grammatical Encoding of Agency 302

Talk About Agency: Meta-Agentive Discourse 305

Power and Agency In/through/by/of Language 310

Notes 313

References 328

Index 364

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