ANTHRCUL 576 - Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Section: 001
Term: FA 2019
Subject: Anthropology, Cultural (ANTHRCUL)
Department: LSA Anthropology
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Two courses in ANTHRCUL or LING.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course is an intensive introduction to theoretical issues in linguistics of special relevance to anthropologists, most of whose primary interests are outside of language. Think of language as a special kind of semiotic or cultural system. Our subject matter, then, consists of ways of approaching its formal description and the general issues (for the most part, about the nature of culture) that are raised by those approaches. Several such issues will continually crop up:

  1. The nature of cultural patterning, its representation, and the means we use to describe it;
  2. The possibility of cross-cultural comparison and typology using culturally-meaningful (or "emic") patterns as a basis; can general "laws of structure" of cultural form be constructed from descriptions of particular cultural systems?
  3. Are there true universals of culture? Are they biologically determined, determined by the nature of the cultural code, or some combination of the two? What evidence is required to make sense of the question?
  4. What does it mean for individuals to share a culture? Does "sharing a culture" require collective representations? Are there any?
  5. How do languages, and other aspects of cultural patterning, map onto populations of speakers? Is language best viewed as an especially complex cognitive system, or as socially-situated practices? Are these views mutually exclusive?

No background whatever in linguistics or linguistic anthropology is assumed, although familiarity with one of the other fields of anthropology is expected. The course is designed for graduate students.

ANTHRCUL 576 - Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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