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Unit information: Language, Culture, and Society in 2014/15

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Unit name Language, Culture, and Society
Unit code ARCH20045
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Jordan
Open unit status Open
Pre-requisites

One of ANTH10001, ANTH 10005

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

The course will introduce the study of language from a complete anthropological perspective. For archaeology and biological anthropology, human language is a uniquely complex communication system, and students will learn what we know about the origins of the language capacity as well as how languages can be studied as cultural evolutionary systems. For social anthropology, students will be introduced to the diversity of language as a medium through which social and cultural ideas are expressed. Linguistic anthropology has an approach that differs from that of the purely linguistic, by focusing on language in (a) its social usage and (b) as a conveyor of meaning. Seen in this manner, language is a fundamental component of our world-views.

AIMS

Students will gain an understanding of:

  • The crucial role of language in what makes us human, and the relevance of language for all fields of social and evolutionary anthropology, including archaeology and prehistory.
  • How language is acquired and how language interacts with other non-verbal communication systems.
  • The importance of language in human social behaviour and interaction, and be able to describe how language is used by speakers in establishing group and individual identities of ethnicity, gender, class, and power.
  • Influential and current theories of language evolution, language diversity, language usage in social context, and how meaning is expressed in language.

Students will learn and be able to use:

  • The professional vocabulary of linguistics as it relates to anthropological investigations.
  • Skills for collecting anthropological and linguistic data such as: interviews and elicitation techniques, ethnographic and recording techniques.
  • Skills for analysing linguistic data such as: corpus analysis, discourse analysis, historical reconstruction using traditional and quantitative approaches, evolutionary frameworks.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

1) Explain the relevance of language in the fields of social and evolutionary anthropology, archaeology and prehistory, with case studies

2) Describe current and influential theories of how language has evoked and how language interacts with other communication and symbolic systems

3) Describe current and influential theories of how language is used by speakers in establishing group and individual identities, and illustrate these theories with examples of ethnicity, gender, class and power

4) Identify the current extent of language diversity and use this to appraise the implications of language diversity for our understanding of human culture and cognition, and to explain the anthropological issues surrounding multilingualism and language endangerment

5) Recognise the professional vocabulary of linguistics as it relates to anthropology ad use this vocabulary in written and oral work

6) Collect and record anthropological and linguistic data using (for example) interviews and elicitation techniques, ethnographic and recording techniques

7) Analyse linguistic data with a range of techniques such as: corpus analysis, discourse analysis, historical reconstruction using traditional and quantitative approaches, evolutionary frameworks.

Teaching details

10 x 2-hour lectures

5 x 1-hour seminars

1 x 3-hour block for “mini-conference” in last week of TB

e-learning: Class Wiki entries by students

Assessment Details

Summative assessment will be by means of:

1.Sociolinguistic observation and documentation project (50%). Working on a set topic, students will make first-hand observations of linguistic interactions and collect data. The observations and data will be analysed and discussed in a 2500 word written report. [Outcomes 3-7]

2.An electronic poster presentation for a mini-conference (30%) on a current debate in linguistic anthropology. Students will give a short 5-10 minute presentation to accompany the poster. [Outcomes 1-6

3.Two 800-word “Wiki-style” encyclopaedia entries for a class Wiki (20%). [Outcomes 1-6]

Formative assessment will be by means of:

1.A draft of one encyclopaedia entry will receive feedback.

2.Tutorial sessions will allow students to discuss the design and execution of their observation project and receive formative feedback.

3.Student-led discussions in tutorial sessions will workshop current debates in linguistic anthropology as preparation for the mini-conference.

Reading and References

Ahern, L. 2010. Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.

Duranti, A. Ed. 2004. A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell. Evans, N. 2009. Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have To Tell Us. Wiley.

Fitch, T. 2010. The Evolution of Language. CUP.

Foley, B. 1997. Anthropological Linguistics: An Introduction. Wiley.

Salzman, Z., Stanlaw, J., Adachi, N. 2011. Language, Culture and Society. 5th Ed. Westview Press.

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