Anthropology M241

Topics in Linguistic Anthropology: Linguistic Relativity

Winter 2003
Time: Wednesday 10am-1pm / Room: Haines 310
Instructor: Alessandro Duranti
Office: Haines 349 / Phone: 825 5833
E mail: aduranti@anthro.ucla.edu
[Updated March 6, 2003]

Description. Overview of the issue of linguistic relativity, its philosophical roots and its formulation within linguistic anthropology from Boas to more recent experimental and interactional approaches. Emphasis on the implications of various formulations of linguistic relativity for the study of language in general and for an anthropological perspective on the linguistic encoding of experience. Discussion of the criticism of Whorf within generative grammar. Focus on language as a resource for thinking and doing in the world. 

No auditors accepted

Prerequisites.Anthropology 204 or Anthropology 242 or instructor's consent. 

Discussion and lecture. Each meeting will be divided into two parts. In the first part, the readings will be discussed together with portions of the students' written assignments. In the second part, the instructor will introduce themes and issues that anticipate what students will find in the readings for the next week. All participants are potential discussants of earlier and current topics. Grading and assignments. The grade for the class is based on (i) class participation and 10 written assignments.  

Assignments. Weekly assignments are due by Monday morning at 10am (via e mail). In writing their assignment, students should take into consideration that it might be distributed to the entire class and portions of it might be used for discussion. Readings The Readings listed here are subject to change according to what covered in lecture and the general pace of the class. Some readings might be added and other ones might be eliminated. Changes will be reflected in this website throughout the course.

Texts (all required):

  1. Humboldt, W. von. [1886] 1999. On Language: On the Diversity of Human Language Construction and its Influence on the Mental Development of the Human Species. . Ed. by M. Losonsky, Transl. by Peter Heath. Cambridge University Press.
  2. Whorf, B. L. 1956. Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Ed. John B. Carroll. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Check the new edition]
  3. Lucy, J. A. 1992. Grammatical Categories and Cognition: A Case Study of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  4. Gumperz, J. J., and S. C. Levinson. Editors. 1996. Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  5. Packet: Set of Readings available in a folder in the Anthropology Reading Room (Haines 352).
Recommended:
  1. Duranti, A. Editor. 2001. Key Terms in Language and Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  2. Lucy, J. A. 1992. Language Diversity and Cognitive Development: A Reformulation of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.



Week 1. Introduction: Why Linguistic Relativity?

  1. Organization of the course.
  2. Lecture.  Historical roots and some theoretical issues.


Readings for next week:

  1. von Humboldt, W. [1836]1999. On Language. [Esp. chapters 1-9; 14, 15, 19, 20]
  2. Boas, F. 1889. "On Alternating Sounds." American Anthropologist 2 (o.s.):47-53. (Packet)
  3. Boas, F. 1911. "Introduction," in Handbook of American Indian Languages, vol. BAE-B 40, Part I. Ed. F. Boas. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution and Bureau of American Ethnology. (Packet)
  4. Bunz, M. 1996. "Franz Boas and the Humboldtian Tradition," in Volksgeist as Method and Ethic: Essays on Boasian Ethnography and the German Anthropological Tradition. Ed. G. W. Stocking, Jr., pp. 17-78. London: The U of Wisconsin Press. (Packet)
  5. Briggs, C.L. 2002. "Linguistic Magic Bullets in the Making of a Modernist Anthropology," American Anthropologist104(2), pp. 17-78
  6. Assignment #1



Week 2. Boas and von Humboldt

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture. Idealism, existentialism and the role of poetry.


Readings for next week:

  1. Sapir, E. 1927. "The Unconscious Patterning of Behavior in Society," in The Unconscious: A Symposium. Ed. E. S. Dummer, pp. 114-42. New York: Knopf. [Reprinted in Mandelbaum, Ed.] (Packet) 
  2. -. 1929. "The Status of Linguistics as a Science." Language 5:207-14. [Reprinted in Mandelbaum, Ed.] (Packet)
  3. Cassirer, E. 1979. "Language and Art I," in Symbol, Myth, and Culture. Ed. D.P. Verene. Pp. 145-65. New Haven: Yale U Press. (Packet)
  4. -. 1979. "Language and Art II," in Symbol, Myth, and Culture. Ed. D.P. Verene. Pp. 166-95. New Haven: Yale U Press. (Packet)
  5. Heidegger, M. 1971. "The Way to Language," in On the Way to Language, pp. 111-36. New York: Harper & Row. (or the next one on "Language")
  6. Heidegger, M. 1971. " Language," in Poetry, Language, Thought, pp. 189-210. New York: Harper & Row. [original text written in 1950](Packet)
  7. Assignment #2



Week 3. Idealism, existentialism, and the role of poetry.

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: Whorf, linguistic diversity and American Indian metaphysics.  


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Mithun, M. In press. "The value of Linguistic Diversity: Viewing Other Worlds through North American Indian Languages." In A. Duranti (Ed.) A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology Blackwell. (Packet)
  2. Whorf, B.L. 1950. "An American Indian Model of the Universe." International Journal of American Linguistics 16:67-72. [Reprinted in Whorf 1956]
  3. Whorf, B. L. 1956. "A Linguistic Consideration of Thinking in Primitive Communities." In Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Ed. J. B. Carroll, pp. 65-86. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  4. Whorf, B. L. 1938. Some Verbal Categories of Hopi. Language 14:275-86. [Reprinted in Whorf 1956]
  5. Whorf, B. L. 1956. "Grammatical Categories." In Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Ed. J. B. Carroll, pp. 87-101. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  6. Martin, L. 1986. "Eskimo Words for Snow: A Case Study in the Genesis and Decay of an Anthropological Example." American Anthropologist 88:418-23. (Packet)
  7. Assignment #3



Week 4. From lexical and grammatical analysis to American Indian metaphysics

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: The linguistic relativity principle


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Whorf, B. L. 1941. "The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior in Language," in Language, Culture, and Personality: Essays in Honor of Edward Sapir. Eds. L. Spier, A. I. Hallowell, and S. S. Newman, pp. 75-93. Menasha, WI: Sapir Memorial Publication. [Reprinted in Whorf 1956]
  2. -. 1940. "Science and Linguistics." Technological Review 42:229-31, 247-48. [Reprinted in Whorf 1956]
  3. Hopper, P. and S.A. Thompson. 1984. "The Discourse Basis for Lexical Categories in Universal Grammar," in Language .60,4:703-52.
  4. Pinker, S. 1994. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: William Morrow and Company, pp. TBA (Packet) 
  5. Baker, M. C. 2001. The Atoms of Language. New York: Basic Books, pp. TBA (Packet)
  6. Assignment #4



Week 5. The linguistic relativity principle

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: Color terms, evolution and universals


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Berlin, B., and P. Kay. 1969. Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. Berkeley: U of California Press.
  2. Lucy, J. A., and R. A. Shweder. 1979. "Whorf and His Critics: Linguistic and Nonlinguistic Influences on Color Memory." American Anthropologist 81:581-615. (Suggested)
  3. Kay, P., and L. Maffi. 2000. "Color Appearance and the Emergence and Evolution of Basic Color Lexicons." American Anthropologist 101:743-60. (Packet)
  4. Levinson, S. C. 2000. "Dnye and the Theory of Basic Color Terms." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 10.1:3-55. (Packet)
  5. Assignment #5



Week 6. Going Experimental

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: New findings (and experiments). 


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Lucy, J. A. 1992. Grammatical Categories and Cognition: A Case Study of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  2. Slobin, D. I. 1996. "From 'Thought and Language' to 'Thinking for Speaking.'" In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 70-96. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  3. Bowerman, M. 1996. "The Origins of Children's Spatial Semantic Categories: Cognitive Versus Linguistic Determinants." In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 145-76. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  4. Assignment #6



Week 7. More experimental evidence and acquisition data

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: Conceptualizing space in language structure and language use


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Talmy, L. ([1983]2000) "How Language Structures Space." In Toward a Cognitive Semantics, Vol. I: Conceptual Structuring Systems, pp. 177-254. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  2. Levinson, S.C. 1996. "Relativity in Spatial Conception and Description." In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 177-202. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  3. Bennardo, G. 2002. "Mental Images of the Familiar: Cultural Strategies of Spatial Representation in Tonga. In Representing Space in Oceania: Culture in Language and Mind. Ed. G. Bennardo. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University.
  4. Hom, I. 1993. "Space and Morality in Tokelau." In Pragmatics 3(2): 137- 154.
  5. Assignment #7



Week 8. The relativity of space

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: Relativity in interaction


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Hanks, W. F. 1996. "Language Form and Communicative Practices." In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 232-70. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  2. Ochs, E. 1984. "Clarification and Culture." In Georgetown University Round Table in Languages and Linguistics. Eds. D.Shiffrin, pp. 325-41. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.
  3. Gumperz, J.J. 1996. "Introduction to Part IV." In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 359-373. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  4. Ochs, E. 1996. "Linguistic Resources for Socializing Humanity." In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 407-37. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  5. Goodwin, C. 1996. "Practices of Color Classification." In Ninchi Kagaku (Cognitive Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society). 3(2):62-81.  Goodwin1s articles
  6. Assignment #8



Week 9. Linguistic relativity in interaction

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment.
  2. Lecture: Encoding of agency in language


Readings for Next Week:

  1. Fillmore, C.J. "The Case for Case," E. Bach and E.T. Harms, Eds., Universals of Linguistic Theory. Holt, pp. 1-88. (Packet)
  2. Fillmore, C.J. "An Alternative to Checklist Theories of Meaning." In First Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society. Dept of Linguistics, U.C. Berkeley, pp. 123-131. (Packet)
  3. Hopper, P. J., and S. A. Thompson. 1980. "Transitivity in Grammar and Discourse." Language 56:251-99. (Packet)
  4. Duranti, A. 2001. "Performance and Ecoding of Agency in Historical-Natural Languages." In SALSA Proceedings, vol. 9. Eds. K. Henning, N. Netherton, and L. C. Peterson, pp. 266-87. Austin, TX: The U of Texas at Austin. (Packet)
Assignment #9



Week 10. Doing with and without language.

  1. Discussion of readings, assignment. 
  2. Lecture: Is linguistic relativity still alive and well?


Last Set of Readings:

  1. Hymes, D. 1966. "Two Types of Linguistic Relativity," in Sociolinguistics. Edited by W. Bright, pp. 114-67. The Hague: Mouton. (Packet) 
  2. Hill, J. H., and B. Mannheim. 1992. "Language and World View." Annual Review of Anthropology 21:381-406. (Packet)
  3. Gumperz, J. J., and S. C. Levinson. 1996. "Introduction: Linguistic Relativity Re- examined." In Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Eds. J. J. Gumperz and S. C. Levinson, pp. 1-18. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
Assignment #10