Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology

Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology

Laura M. Ahearn

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 1405124415

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Accessible and clearly written, Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology introduces readers to the study of language in real-life social contexts around the world through the contemporary theory and practice of linguistic anthropology.

  • A highly accessible introduction to the study of language in real-life social contexts around the world
  • Combines classic studies on language and cutting-edge contemporary scholarship and assumes no prior knowledge in linguistics or anthropology
  • Provides a unifying synthesis of current research and considers future directions for the field
  • Covers key topics such as: language and gender, race, and ethnicity; language acquisition and socialization in children and adults; language death and revitalization; performance; language and thought; literacy practices; and multilingualism and globalization

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“characteristic neither of all societies nor of all social groups (e.g., all social classes within one society)” (Ochs and Schieffelin Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, First Edition. Laura M. Ahearn. © 2012 Laura M. Ahearn. Published 2012 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Ahearn_c03.indd 50 2/22/2011 3:27:57 PM Language Acquisition and Socialization 51 2001[1984]:268). Such research demonstrates that there are multiple ways of becoming fluent in one’s native

profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour. Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life... Bakhtin 1981:293 Words do live socially charged lives, as Bakhtin observes in the epigraph that opens this chapter. Language is not a neutral medium for communication but rather a set of socially embedded practices.The reverse of Bakhtin’s statement is also true: social

standardized national forms. And in the National Field (IV), speakers are aware of the existence of all of these forms (Santa Ana and Parodí 1998:35–37). Many linguistic anthropologists would take issue with Santa Ana and Parodí’s approach because it incorporates elements such as the exclusion from their study of interviewees who “spoke Spanish with a recognizable Phurhépecha accent” (1998:24), or the reliance on elicitation rather than ethnographic study of naturally occurring language use.

study of reading and writing are “literacy events” and “literacy practices.” Shirley B. Heath straightforwardly defines “literacy events” as “occasions in which written language is integral to the nature of participants’ interactions and their interpretive processes and strategies” (Heath 2001[1982]:319). The specific examples provided above that interweave orality and literacy are all examples of literacy events. The concept of “literacy event” stresses the situated nature of literacy – literacy

would maintain that this interpretation should be put aside, or at least qualified in several ways.There are many spaces within the village and beyond that women are either prohibited from entering, at least at certain times of the month, or during certain events, and many other spaces in which their movements are quite circumscribed.14 Physical space is certainly not the only, or even the most important, confining factor in Junigau gender relations, but in many respects it is the most visible.

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