Linguistic Anthropology An Introduction What is Anthropology? Anthropo logy from the Greek from the Greek anthropos - ἄνθρωπος legein - λέγω meaning “man; man-faced; meaning “to speak” a human being” The “Study of” or “Science of” bios + logy = the study of bios (“life”) geo + logy = the study of geo (“earth”) psykhe + ology = the study of psykhe (“breath”, “spirit”, “soul”) theos + logy = the study of theos (“God”) Four-Field Anthropology Cultural Anthropology Archaeology Linguistic Anthropology Biological (or Physical) Anthropology Cultural Anthropology • Focuses on the role culture plays in human life • Culture is – Learned by individuals as they grow up within a group – Passed on from generation to generation – The primary means by which humans adapt – Constantly changing Three Components of Culture • Material • Behavioral • Ideational Nepali Mother and Child (1995) Archaeology • Focuses on human life in the past • Humans of the past – Relied on their cultures to adapt – Shared many common features with recent and modern humans – Saw their cultures change as a result of the same processes that change cultures today Linguistic Anthropology • Focuses on the role language plays in human life • Language is – Learned by individuals as they grow up within a group – Passed on from generation to generation – The primary means by which a human learns his/her culture – Constantly changing Biological Anthropology (aka“Physical Anthropology”) • Focuses on humans as biological organisms • Biological organisms – Have similar features and needs – Are the products of evolutionary and environmental forces – Are genetically unique Four-Field Anthropology Cultural Anthropology Archaeology the cultural fields Linguistic Anthropology Biological (or Physical) Anthropology the biological field Applied Anthropology making it relevant (aka the “fifth field”) Anthropology is a Biocultural Discipline Lhapo Wangchuk, a Nepali shaman, treats a woman for an abdominal ailment (1995) Linguistic Anthropology • Uses all of the tools of Anthropology (and other fields) to study language • Examples – What is the prehistory of language? – How do languages change? – What biological features make language possible? – How does language affect culture (and vice versa)?
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