Anthro 33: Culture and Communication


Study Questions Archive

The following are study questions and summaries for ALL the readings used by Professor Alessandro Duranti in Anthropology 33 ("Culture and Communication") over the last few years.

If you are currently taking the course, you'll need to look at the course syllabus to see which readings are being used now.

You can scroll down the page and browse through the readings or click on a particular author to go directly to that reading. The readings are organized alphabetically. If you are having problems with the material covered in the course, here are some tips.

[updated January 3, 2002]

Table of Contents:

Abu-Lughod, L. (1986)   Veiled Sentiments

Anzaldúa, G. (1990) How to Tame a Wild Tongue

Bloomfield, L. (1933)  Speech Communities

Duranti, A. (1997)  Linguistic Anthropology

Duranti, A. (1994)  From Grammar to Politics

Duranti, A. and E. Ochs (1986)  Literacy Instruction in Western Samoa

Duranti, A., E. Ochs, and E. K. Ta`ase (1995)  Change and Tradition in Literacy Instruction in a Samoan-American Community

Feld, S. (1982)   Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression

Ferguson, C. (1964)   Baby Talk in Six Languages

Finegan, E. and N. Besnier (1989)   The Historical Development of Languages

Geertz, C. (1983)   From the Native's Point of View': On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding

Goodwin, C. (1994)   Professional Vision

Gumperz, J. (1992)   Contextualization and Understanding

Heidegger, M. ([1927] 1962)   Being and Time

Jupp, T. C., C. Roberts and J. Cook-Gumperz (1982)   Language and the Disadvantage: The Hidden Process

Kroskrity, P. V. (1993)   Language, History, and Identity: Ethnolinguistic Studies of the Arizona Tewa

Morgan, M. (1994)   The African-American Speech Community: Reality and Sociolinguistics

Myers, F. (1986)   The Dreaming: Time and Space

Ochs, E. and B.B. Schieffelin (1984)   Language Acquisition and Socialization: Three Developmental Stories

Sacks, H. (1975)   Everyone Has to Lie

Shore, B. (1982)   The Esthetics of Social Context

Tedlock, D. (1983)   On the Translation of Style in Oral Narrative

Youssouf, I. A., A. D. Grimshaw, et al. (1976)   Greetings in the Desert

Zentella, A.C. (1990)   Returned Migration, Language, and Identity: Puerto Rican Bilinguals in Dos Worlds/Two Mundos

Zentella, A. C. (1997)   Growing Up Bilingual

Abu-Lughod, L., Veiled Sentiments, University of California Press.

Study questions: chaps. 1 & 2

  1. Why was it important that Abu-Lughod be accompanied by her father when she was looking for a site for her project?
  2. How does she justify her methodological choices (e.g. why she did not collect information about other communities, avoided questionnaires, and did not tape record much interaction)?
  3. How did Abu-Lughod encounter Bedouin poems?
  4. How does Abu-Lughod explain the fact that Bedouin women and their point of view were ignored in previous studies?
  5. What is the basic difference in sentiments expressed in poetry and in ordinary conversation?
  6. How do the Bedouins distinguish themselves from the Egyptians?
  7. How does 'blood' explain the logic of social relations, including marrying patterns? e.g. what are the advantages of marrying a cousin (on the father's side) for men and for women?
  8. How has sedentarization affected social bonds among neighbors?
  9. What does the expression 'We go to them and they come to us' mean in Bedouin society?
  10. How is the existence of bonds between groups recognized and sustained?
  11. How has the new economic situation affected Bedouin society and women in particular? E.g. how have cars replaced animals? Are women more free, independent?

chaps. 3 & 4

  1. How is the family a metaphor for social relations? Give examples.
  2. What does a man need to do to be respected, have honor in Bedouin society?
  3. How is abuse of power controlled?
  4. What is hasham, how is it displayed, and how is it explained by Abu-Lughod?
  5. What is the symbolism of white, black, and red among the Bedouins?
  6. Why is there a preference for endogamous marriages (i.e. a preference for patrilineal parallel-cousin marriage)?
  7. Why is sexual immodesty more an affront to a woman's kin than to her husband?
  8. When do Bedouin women veil? How does Abu-Lughod explain the logic of veiling (e.g. for whom women veil)?
  9. Why is ceasing to veil a bid for status?

chaps. 5-8

  1. What is a ghinnawa? Who produces it? When? For what?
  2. How does poetry represent a contrast between public discourse and private discourse?
  3. What is the contrast between the values implied in hasham and the values implied in poetry? Can they be reconciled?
  4. In what sense does Abu-Lughod argue that there is conformity in the poems as well?
  5. How does Abu-Lughod try to explain the dichotomy between the sentiments expressed in public and those expressed in poetry?

Anzaldúa, G. (1990) "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures. Eds. R. Ferguson, M. Gever, T. T. Minh-ha, and C. West. MIT Press. 203-11.

This is a powerful statement about the role of language(s) in defining one's identity. Gloria Anzaldúa recounts her experience in growing up speaking a variety of Spanish dialects, each of which implied a different set of attitudes, expectations, and values regarding assimilation, ethnic identity, and tradition. Anzaldúa's experience is not unique but has only recently been articulated by Chicano writers. Connect this reading with Zentella's and Kroskrity's.

  1. What does Anzaldúa mean when she says 'I am my language'?
  2. What does 'nosotros los mexicanos' mean for Anzaldúa and the community she identifies with?
  3. What is the 'borderland conflict' discussed in the article? How is it manifested?

Bloomfield, L. (1933) "Speech Communities." Language. Eds. G. Allen and Unwin. London. 43-66.

This is a chapter by one of the most influential linguists of the first half of the twentieth century and introduces not only the notion of 'speech community,' but also a number of important concepts in linguistic theory such as the difference between standard and non-standard speech, attitudes toward local dialects, and bilingualism. Much has been written on these topics since Leonard Bloomfield's book, but he has a succinct and matter-of-fact way of introducing them which I find useful for the non-specialist.

  1. What is Bloomfield's definition of speech community?
  2. Is there a correspondence between a person's linguistic and biological features?
  3. What is a native language?
  4. Why is it difficult to establish the exact boundaries of a speech community?
  5. Are there individual differences in speech? What does Bloomfield say about it?
  6. According to Bloomfield, what accounts for a person's particular type of language (dialect, 'accent', etc.)?
  7. How does Bloomfield distinguish between Standard and non-standard?
  8. What kinds of experience have you had with linguistic differences?
  9. Differences between recent and older speech communities.
  10. What is a 'speech-island'?
  11. What does Bloomfield say about bilingualism?
  12. What do you think is Bloomfield's attitude toward linguistic differences?

Duranti, A. (1997) Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge University Press.

Ch. 1, Section 1.4 and Ch. 6, section 6.8.

  1. Duranti distinguishes among different uses of the term 'performance' -- What are they?
  2. How is the notion of 'performance1 relevant to the study of language use in everyday life?
  3. How can linguistic expressions be 'indexes'? Give examples.
  4. Why are indexes important for understanding the relation between language and context?
  5. How is the notion of 'participation' relevant to linguistic competence?
  6. What is phonosymbolism (also called 'sound symbolism')? Can you give a few examples (see also Feld's chapter)?
  7. How do indexes help construct local concepts of gender?
  8. Can you think of other concepts that are constructed or maintained through indexical meanings?

Ch. 2 'Theories of culture'

You are not expected to remember everything that is discussed in this chapter, which covers a number of perspective on culture within anthropology. You should however be able to explain the following notions:

  • Culture as distinct from nature.
  • Culture as knowledge.
  • Culture as communication.
  • 'Thick description.'
  • Culture as a 'system of mediation.'
  • 'Tool' as a metaphor for 'culture.'
  • Culture as practice.
  • And finally: What connections do you see among the different theories?

Duranti, A. From Grammar to Politics. University of California Press, 1994.

Ch. 2

  1. What is the difference between 'field linguistics' and 'ethnographic linguistics'?
  2. What is the 'figure-ground relation' representing? How does it relate to the research project described by Duranti?
  3. What is the 'transformation' undergone by Duranti the researcher in the field?
  4. Describe the differences between the language data collected with bilingual speakers and those taken from spontaneous interactions?
  5. How did Duranti's interest in speechmaking start? What methods did he used in investigating speechmaking? What can you learn from the description of this process of doing research?
  6. What is the fono?
  7. How were the interactions recorded in the village transcribed and interpreted?
  8. What is the fa`alupega and why it is important for the researcher?
  9. What is a transcript?

Ch. 3

  1. What does chapter 3 say about hierarchy in Samoa?
  2. How is the fa`alupega useful for making sense of what is going on in a fono?
  3. Why does Duranti say that Samoans love 'order and its permutations'?
  4. What are the relevant ('emic') distinctions made by the participants in sitting inside of a Samoan house?
  5. What is the relationship between the ideal seating arrangement and what experienced by documenting actual meetings?
  6. What do we learn from the episode of the woman titled Tafili going to the fono?
  7. How does the kava ceremony act as a temporal boundary? What information does it convey to the participants and the researcher?
  8. What is the relationship between the order of kava distribution and the order of speakers?

Ch. 4

  1. In what sense is the Samoan lauga an 'epic' genre?
  2. What is the basic plan of the lauga?
  3. What is Bloch's position on what he calls 'formalized language'?
  4. What are the differences between the lauga in ceremony and the lauga in a fono described in the article that were illustrated in the videotape shown in class?
  5. What are the features of heteroglossia that are represented in the fono speeches?
  6. How does the article represent the relationship between formal oratory and everyday speech?

Ch. 5 (114-29, 138-143), and Ch. 6 (144-48, 151-166)

  1. What are the strategies used in the fono to introduce the agenda of the meeting?
  2. Why is it that participants in the fono seem reluctant to go into details at the beginning of the meeting?
  3. In what sense is the agenda of the fono an 'abstract' of a story?
  4. What is the difference between the way English grammar and Samoan grammar treat Agents (i.e. subjects of transitive clauses)?
  5. How are agents defined by Duranti?
  6. How common are fully expressed Agents and what kinds of beings do they tend to be in natural discourse?
  7. How can the study of who used more Agents during the fono speeches be used to make hypotheses about how authority is established in the community and power exercised?
  8. How does the interaction discussed on pp. 154-6 illustrate that participants do sometimes interpret the use of a transitive sentence with a fully expressed Agent (marked by the ergative case) as an accusation?
  9. How does the interaction described on pp. 159-164 illustrate the use of the same construction for giving credit?

Ch. 7

  1. What is the "moral flow hypothesis"?

A. Duranti and E. Ochs. "Literacy instruction in Western Samoa." The Acquisition of Literacy: Ethnographic Perspectives. Eds. B. Schieffelin and P.Gilmore. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1986. 213-233

In 1981, Elinor Ochs and Alessandro Duranti went back to the same village where they had carried out fieldwork in 1978-79 to study children's activities and literacy practices. They filmed children interacting with other children and with adults during school hours, play time, and at work. This article is one of the outcomes of that study. They look at how children behave and are treated in two different contexts: at home and at school. They are especially interested in the implications of schooling for the concept of person and the notion of task. They find that different uses of language provide a different worldview not only because of what words represent but also because of what people do with those words (e.g. whether they ask certain kinds of questions, whether only one person is expected to answer or others can finish what one person had started, whether a person's accomplishment is recognized and how).

  1. What does the Alphabet table illustrate?
  2. Literacy activities in the classroom imply a set of concepts and values that go beyond literacy and school. What are the striking contrasts we find when we compare traditional Samoan patterns of interaction and values with the patterns we find in the school?
  3. What is the Samoan concept of person that emerges from the different kinds of interactions discussed in the paper?
  4. According to Duranti and Ochs, there are economic consequences of literacy activities. Which concepts are more adaptive to a capitalist economy?
  5. What does it mean to say that in Samoa work is both hierarchically organized and cooperative?
  6. How does the concept of taapua`i'supporter' illustrate the Samoan notion of task accomplishment?
  7. What is the culturally "new" aspect of the teacher's answer lelei "good" in the Samoan schools?

A. Duranti, E. Ochs, and E. K. Ta`ase. "Change and Tradition in Literacy Instruction in a Samoan American Community." Educational Foundations 9 (1995): 57-73.

In 1990-93, Duranti and Ochs received a grant from the Department of Education (through the National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning at UCSC), to extend their earlier work on language socialization and literacy in Western Samoa to a Samoan community in the US. This article is an outcome of that project. It looks at the use of the same literary tool, the Pi Tautau (alphabet table), analyzed in Duranti and Ochs (1986) and discusses how the context and functions of the tool have changed in the new context of suburban US.

  1. What is the function of the literacy classes offered in the Samoan church in Southern California described in the article?
  2. What is the nu`u lotu?
  3. How is the use of alphabet table used in the US different from its use in a Western Samoan village?

Feld, S. Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. 3-7, 20-43, 144-150.

Steven Feld is a linguistic anthropologist with a sophisticated ear not only for music (he is an ethnomusicologist and a jazz musician) but also for what people make of it. I chose these pages from his book because they introduce language and ethnography in an unusual way. By reading from his study of the songs and stories performed by the Kaluli people of Mount Bosavi in Papua New Guinea, you get a sense of how important sounds are in interpreting the universe that surrounds us. Before being words, sentences, and narratives, sounds exist in the natural world, but they can be perceived and reproduced by people only when they are given a meaning. As you will see, the Kaluli give meaning to individual sounds (through sound symbolism) and to complex arrangements of sounds into words and stories. What they hear and what they sing is not just in nature, it is the representation and performance of their cultural values.

  1. Who are the Kaluli, where do they live, how are they socially organized, when did contact between the Kaluli and European goods take place?
  2. What is the meaning of "The Boy Who Became a Muni Bird" story? How does the story relate to Kaluli social organization and cultural expectations about gender roles, reciprocity, and loss?
  3. How do Kaluli think about bird sounds?
  4. What are gono to?
  5. Give examples of how different vowels are assigned meaning. (Don't worry too much about words like phonesthesia, just get the general idea of how these sounds are grouped and related to certain meanings)
  6. What are some of the ethnographic themes of the songs identified by Feld?
  7. What is phonetic symbolism (or phonosymbolism or sound symbolism)?
  8. How does the relation between Sound and sentiment among the Kaluli illustrate the relation between nature and culture?
  9. (note: don't worry too much about Feld's structural analysis on pp. 38-43)

Ferguson, C. (1964) "Baby Talk in Six Languages." American Anthropologist 66.6 -Part 2 (1964):102-114.

Charles Ferguson has always been interested in 'marginal systems' in languages, that is, ways of speaking that differ in some systematic way from the 'usual' way in which people talk. One of the special way of talking ('registers') he analyzed is 'baby talk,' the way in which adults in some cultures speak to their children, often thinking that they are imitating them or that they are helping them understand what is being said. Ferguson looks at the properties of baby talk in six languages and shows that there are some interesting similarities, especially in the ways in which sounds are changed and words created. He also has some thoughts about the supposedly universal functions of baby talk. (For a different view, see the article by Ochs & Schieffelin in this packet).

  1. How 'baby talk' an example of what Ferguson calls 'simplified register'?
  2. What are some of the ways in which 'normal, adult' languages are modified to create 'baby talk'?
  3. What are some of the characteristics of 'baby talk' across languages?
  4. What are some of the hypotheses about the functions of 'baby talk' discussed by Ferguson?
  5. Is 'baby talk' universal? (compare Ferguson's article with Ochs and Schieffelin's)

Finegan, E. and N. Besnier. (1989) "The Historical Development of Languages." Language: Its Structure and Use. New York: Harcourt, 1989. 277-294

This chapter, taken from an excellent introductory text to linguistics, describes how the comparative method of reconstructing ancient linguistic forms can be used to establish historical connections not only between different languages but also between different populations. By using word lists from contemporary Polynesian languages, the authors show how we can speculate on the shape of Proto-Polynesian words and even make hypotheses about the lives of the ancestors of contemporary Polyensians. The starting hypothesis is that "When scholars reconstruct an ancestral language, they also implicitly reconstruct an ancestral society and an ancestral culture." (p. 281)

  1. Which features of languages change?
  2. What is a language family? What are some examples of language families?
  3. What are some of the conditions that create the context for the development of different languages from a common (parent) language?
  4. How do we know that Polynesians came from the East and not from the West?
  5. What kind of special situation do islands represent for historical linguistics?
  6. What is a "cognate"?
  7. What is the method of "comparative reconstruction"?
  8. What does the star (*) before a Proto-form mean?
  9. What do we learn about Ancient Polynesia from the fact that the reflexes of *lulu 'owl' are not found in Tahiti, Easter Island and the Marquesas and in Hawaiian 'owl' is pueo ?
  10. What are some of the basic principles to keep in mind when doing linguistic reconstruction?

Geertz, C. "From the Native's Point of View: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding." Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology . New York: Basic Books, 1983. 55-70

Clifford Geertz is an interpretive anthropologist who borrowed several terms that are taken from a theoretical tradition (e.g. W. Dilthey, H.G. Gadamer, M. Weber) that might be unknown to some of you. Here are some brief definitions and hints:

Verstehen: German word literally meaning "to understand" or "understanding." It is used in the social sciences in opposition to "explanation." For an approach that examines events from the point of view of what they mean for the actors involved and not on the basis of some causal principle or "law" that is external to their experience. It doesn't try to make predictions partly because it takes the unpredictability of human existence as part of the meaning of life.

Einfühlung: "Empathy." This is another term from the same German tradition. It refers to the need to empathize with those we study in order to get to their subjective understanding of events.

Hermeneutic circle: The interpretive strategy of going from the particular to the general and back to the particular, e.g. from the details of a poem to the meaning of the whole poem and back again. This technique is used by Geertz and other ethnographers to make sense of people's actions, which are thus treated like a text.

  1. What is the difference between an "experience-near" and an "experience-distant" concept? Give an example.
  2. Why does Geertz use the notion of "person" to talk about ethnographic work?
  3. What is the the basic opposition used by Geertz to characterize the Javanese concept of person?
  4. How does the Balinese concept of lek help us understand Geertz's characterization of the Balinese self?
  5. How does Geertz use the word nisba to characterize the Moroccan self?
  6. What is the opposition that Geertz builds between the three concepts of self/person that he describes and the "western" concept of self/person?
  7. How does the notion of the 'hermeneutical circle' apply to cultural analysis? Or what method does Geertz use to define the different types of person in Java, Bali, and Morocco?

Goodwin, C. "Professional Vision" (selected portions). American Anthropologist 96 (1994).

This is not only a re-run of the Rodney King's trial, it is also a discussion of how words and visual representation can be used to affect our perception of reality. Charles Goodwin, linguistic anthropologist and one of the most original analysts of nonverbal communication, shows the power of the professional coding scheme used by the defense in characterizing the actions of the policemen vs. Rodney King as shown by the video tape. The experts act as socializing agents, who teach the jury 'how to look.' The techniques used by the expert witnesses are similar to the ones used by archaeologists and other scientists collecting specimen and classifying 'nature.' (The full article published in 1994 in the American Anthropologist contains a section on archaeologists working at a site).

  1. What was the prosecution's error in presenting the case, according to Goodwin?
  2. How was the viewing of the tape mediated during the trial?
  3. What was the role of experts in the trial and in the analysis of the tape? (e.g. How did they use the notion of "tool"?)
  4. How are the categories of 'expert policeman' and 'suspect' constructed through discourse and other means?

Gumperz, J. "Contextualization and Understanding." Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon. Eds. A. Duranti and C. Goodwin. Cambridge University Press, 1992. Only the beginning of the article:229-233.

John Gumperz is one of the most well known linguistic anthropologists in the world. Much of his work has been on multilingualism and 'social inference,' that is, the process whereby speakers acquire knowledge of the context of an interaction. The beginning of this article has a good introduction to the concept of "contextualization" and the types of linguistic "cues" that are used for speakers to make inferences about what is going on in an interaction and how words and other forms of social action should be interpreted. You are only responsible for the first few pages, but you are welcome to read through the entire article, where Gumperz gives an example of the type of analysis afforded his theoretical framework.

  1. How does Gumperz use the notion of 'contextualization' and how is it relevant to interpreting crosscultural encounters?
  2. What are contextualization cues?
  3. What are the different levels on which contextualization cues operate?

*Study questions for"Crosstalk" (BBC movie):

  1. What is Crosstalk?
  2. What did you learn from watching the BBC program "Crosstalk"?
  3. What are the different types of encounters shown in "Crosstalk"? How are they similar and how are they different?
  4. What features of communication did Gumperz highlight in explaining what is happening in the segments shown in the program "Crosstalk"?

Heidegger, M. ([1927] 1962) Being and Time. 98-102 (on 'Equipment').

I believe that one cannot understand contemporary debates about subjectivity, rationality, space, time, and authenticity without going back to Martin Heidegger, one of the most original, controversial, and difficult philosophers of the twentieth century. In his attempt to 'revolutionize' philosophy, Heidegger made up his own language, which makes reading him a real challenge to our interpretive abilities -- the fact most of us have to read him through translations does not help, despite the excellent work done by some of his translators. I have chosen a few pages from his most famous and important book, Being and Time [Sein und Zeit], because they introduce the concept of tool (or 'Equipment', an English translation of the German "Zeug") which is central to the study of culture. In these passages, Heidegger often refers to a quality of tools: their being 'ready-to-use.' This is a central concept in his work which identifies tools as objects that are not just there ('at hand') for us to look at or think about (in an abstract and theoretical way), but as entities that have goals or what he calls an 'in-order-to' structure. They are designed to be part of our actions and enter into our interaction with the surrounding world. They are 'nature' (e.g. they are made of natural product) but in a modified, culture-like sense. You will recognize in Heidegger's definition of 'equipment' something very close to what archaeologists call 'artifacts.'

  1. What is, for Heidegger, the difference between looking at something "theoretically" (in the sense defined by earlier philosophers) and looking at something as that has an "in-order-to" nature or Being?
  2. How can the notion of "readiness-at-hand" be transferred from tools (like the hammer) to other cultural artifacts (e.g. linguistic forms)?

Jupp, T. C., C. Roberts, and J. Cook-Gumperz. "Language and the Disadvantage: The Hidden Process." Language and Social Identity. Ed. J. Gumperz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. 232-56.

Every immigrant (or immigrant's child) knows that language is an important factor in the ability to be employable and move up in the social scale. But what does it mean to speak 'good English'? How is such competence assessed? Unfortunately, most of the factors that enter the evaluative process are hidden, implicit, that is, never clearly stated. Jupp, Roberts and Cook-Gumperz show how sociolinguistics can help break the negative cycle of negative assessments based on the lack of knowledge of the other person's goals and conventions.

  1. In what sense is language said to be part of a "reflexive process"?
  2. What method was used to study miscommunication?
  3. The authors use the notion of language socialization to discuss the process undergone by immigrants in Britain but draw a distinction between what happens to children and what happens to adults. Think about those differences also on the basis of our other readings.
  4. What are the conclusions drawn by the authors on the reasons for the breakdowns in communication during the job interview?

Kroskrity, P. V. Language, History, and Identity: Ethnolinguistic Studies of the Arizona Tewa. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993.

The second chapter of Paul Kroskrity's monograph discusses how the Tewa think about their own language and where those ideas are articulated. It also introduces the concept of linguistic repertoire, that is, the range of languages or linguistic varieties that are available to the members of a speech community. In discussing the Tewa and their relationship with the Hopi and the English-speaking world, Kroskrity also gives us here a good sense of what linguistic purism is about.

Section 1 (Ch. 2)

  1. What is the difference between tuÎ and hi:li in Arizona Tewa?
  2. What type of language is prohibited in the ceremonies performed in the kiva?
  3. For the Tewa, like for the Hopi, the ideal model of person and language are taken from the ideal ritual person and ideal ritual language. Explain.
  4. The Tewa say "Our language is our life (history)." What do they mean?
  5. What was problematic in Kroskrity's assumption that he could study "just the language itself"?
  6. What are the five differences between Tewa ethnolinguistics and the ethnolinguistics implicit in modern theoretical linguistics? (Hint: here "ethnolinguistics" must be understood as "ideology of language," that is, a set of beliefs and attitudes toward a language and its use specific to a particular group (ethnos); "modern theoretical linguistics" refers to formal linguistics).
  7. The second selection (pp. 193-212) from Kroskrity's book will be used for the discussion of multilingualism and multiculturalism. It is about code-switching, a form of communication that is quite common in the world. Kroskrity analyzes it as a tool for the constitution of social identity, a running theme of his book. The chapter ends with the notion of 'repertoire of identity' which defines ethnicity by reference to the linguistic repertoire (see ch. 2).

Section 2 (193-212)

  1. What are the languages spoken among the Tewa?
  2. What is the difference between situational and metaphorical code-switching?
  3. What does it mean to say that gender, ethnicity, and class are communicatively produced?
  4. What does "repertoire of identities" mean? What is the relationship between language and identity in this model?

Morgan, M. "The African-American Speech Community: Reality and Sociolinguistics." Language and the Social Construction of Identity Ed. M. Morgan. Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, UCLA, 1994. 121-48.

This is the first article that seriously considers the effects of the work by linguists on the community that they study. It also faces the difficult issue of the relationship between researchers and community members. The specific community in this case is African-Americans, whose speech has been studied in great detail since the early 1960's and has been used for important claims about language use and language change, especially by William Labov and his students at the University of Pennsylvania. Marcyliena Morgan, who studied with Labov, introduces a new perspective on this type of research by examining past studies of "Black English" within the context of current debates on race, class, and education.

  1. What was the controversy over the court case involving Black English discussed by Morgan?
  2. Give some examples of what Labov calls "Black English Vernacular" (BEV) (and Morgan calls African American English (AAE).
  3. What are the 3 perspectives from which African American scholars looked at AAE?
  4. What is the stereotype of the AAE speaker criticized by Morgan?
  5. Why does Morgan argue that one needs to take into consideration the ideological implications of linguistic descriptions?

Myers, F. "The Dreaming: Time and Space." Pintupi Country Pintupi Self: Sentiment, Place, and Politics among Western Desert Aborigines. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. 47-70.

This chapter of Fred Myers' book on the Pintupi people of the Western Desert in Australia is a good introduction to the much celebrated notion of the 'Dreaming,' a metaphysical space and time of ancestral connections in the Australian aboriginal landscape. Myers does a good job at giving us an account of how the Pintupi think about their territory and the stories that give meaning to their existence without romanticizing it. It provides an important prelude to the discussion of Aboriginal art and the video interview with Myers that will be shown in class.

  1. What is the difference between 'dreams' and 'The Dreaming' in the Pintupi worldview?
  2. What does the concept of history as represented in The Dreaming imply for the Pintupi?
  3. What are the different meanings of the word ngurra?
  4. What is the relationship between places and time as represented in The Dreaming?
  5. Who controls the knowledge of the stories of The Dreaming?

Further study questions based on the interview with Fred Myers on Pintupi paintings (video shown in class and available during the quarter in the Instructional Media Lab, 270 Powell):

  1. What do the paintings represent?
  2. What do circles (or semicircles, wavy lines, dots) represent?
  3. How do people learn what a painting means?
  4. What is the relationship between the painting and myth/stories/songs?
  5. What are the stories and songs about?
  6. Did the paintings change over time? How so? For instance, what are some of the graphic conventions that developed when artists started to use acrylic paintings?
  7. Who are these paintings for?
  8. What are the consequences of producing these paintings for the people themselves?
  9. How did the people learn how to paint? When?

Ochs, E. and B.B.Schieffelin. "Language acquisition and Socialization: Three Developmental Stories." Culture Theory Eds. R. Shweder and R. LeVine. 1984. 276-320.

This article that uses comparative material (from three cultures) to clearly articulate the idea that (i) baby talk is not universal and (ii) the modifications found in the language used to speak to children in some cultures are related to other kinds of behaviors and attitudes toward children. Ochs and Schieffelin present a typology of cultures based on accommodation vs. lack of accommodation to children. They also recast much of contemporary research on child language acquisition as culture-biased. (Note: By now you should be already familiar with some of the features of Samoan and Kaluli cultures discussed in this chapter -- do you see connections between what Duranti and Ochs say about Samoan and between what Feld and Schieffelin say about Kaluli?)

  1. Is it true that to help children learn to speak, mothers must talk to them as early as possible and in the most simplified way (use "Motherese")?
  2. Do people in all society believe that the child's first word is "mama" (or its local translation)?
  3. What are the two meanings of 'language socialization'?
  4. What is the "paradox of familiarity" discussed by Ochs and Schieffelin?
  5. What are the three "developmental stories" presented by Ochs and Schieffelin?
  6. What are some of the behaviors that characterize white middle class caregivers when they interact with infants?
  7. How do Kaluli mothers describe their babies? Do they talk to them? When? How? How do they hold the babies? What do these behavior suggest?
  8. How is speaking for the infant among the Kaluli evaluated by Ochs and Schieffelin?
  9. When do the Kaluli think language begins for a child?
  10. What are some examples in which Kaluli mothers teach the child what to say? What does *l*ma mean?
  11. Do Kaluli have 'baby talk'? Do Samoans have 'baby talk'?
  12. What are some of the differences between the Kaluli social system and the Samoan system?
  13. If an utterance is unclear who is responsible in Samoa for clarifying its meaning?
  14. What kind of typology of socialization and caregiver speech patterns is proposed by Ochs and Schieffelin? (hint: be prepared to describe and discuss the two strategies: i) "adapt situation to the child" and ii) "adapt child to situation").
  15. In what sense does the study of language socialization merge two different traditions of research (linguistic and anthropological studies)?

Sacks, H. "Everyone Has to Lie." Sociocultural Dimensions of Language Use. Eds. M. Sanches and B. G. Blount. New York: Academic Press, 1975. (only 64-74).

This is another article about greetings, but this time in the context of North American society. In showing the structural organization and constrains of an exchange of greetings, Harvey Sacks unveils some of the presuppositions and implications of starting a greeting sequence and responding to it. What is said then is shown to be not only a ritualistic and highly predictable performance, but also an important social tool for the definition of social relations. There is a more ambitious project behind this short essay, namely, the idea that society exists not only in large bureaucratic institutions, but also in the minute details of chance encounters.

  1. What does it mean to say, with Sacks, that "greetings are ahistorically relevant"?
  2. How is the time at which greetings occur related to how we can tell whether they are absent?
  3. What is the difference between "proper conversationalists" and "minimal proper conversationalists"?
  4. How can we still argue that two people are not proper conversationalists despite the fact that they did engage in conversation?
  5. How is sequence important in greetings?
  6. What is a "greeting substitute"? How do we recognize it?
  7. "Given the occurrence of an answer from subset [0], e.g., ok, fine, etc., no further inquiries are appropriate. Given the occurrence of an answer from the [-] subset, a sequence is appropriately launched, directly, to determining "what's the matter." (70) Explain.
  8. What is the diagnostic sequence?
  9. Why would someone who is feeling lousy not say so when asked how he or she is?

Shore, B. (1982) "The Esthetics of Social Context." Sala`ilua: A Samoan Mystery. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. 256-62.

A few pages from Bradd Shore's ethnography of a Samoan village that introduce the different styles of dancing and relate them to Samoan concepts of person and social relations. These sections will be useful for following the discussion of art in class, when video footage of a Samoan ceremonial exchange will be presented and analyzed.

  1. What is the 'logic of culture' mentioned by Shore?
  2. Why does Shore criticize Mead's characterization of Samoan dances?
  3. What was the difference between pªula and ao siva in pre-Christian Samoa?
  4. How are some of the features of those two types of dances reproduced in contemporary Samoa according to Shore?
  5. What are the differences between `aiuli and siva?
  6. Did we see some examples of these styles in the video tapes shown in class?

Tedlock, D. "On the Translation of Style in Oral Narrative." The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983. 31-56.

This chapter by Dennis Tedlock is about translating Native American poetry. I use it not only because it faces the important and difficult task of transforming a cultural product into something that can be understood by members of another culture, but also because it teaches us to pay attention to features of language that are often ignored, mostly because oral performances are rendered through orthographic conventions that were not designed to represent the features that are salient in Zuni and other Native American traditions.

(Hint: If you want to find out more about "paralinguistic" features (45), have a look at Gumperz's article).

  1. What are the prosodic and paralinguistic features that characterize Zuni verbal performance?
  2. Why is it important to understand native prosody and paralinguistic features?
  3. What is Tedlock's position on Boas's principle to provide "faithful rendering of the native tales"?
  4. What did Cushing add of his own in his collection Zuni Folk Tales?
  5. Why is the label "primitive" (however interpreted) inappropriate in describing Native American oral narratives?
  6. How are sentiments and feelings typically represented in Zuni narratives?
  7. Why is Tedlock critical of theoreticians (like Lévi-Strauss) who are only interested in the "content" of Native American poetry and myths?

Youssouf, I. A., A. D. Grimshaw, et al. "Greetings in the Desert." American Ethnologist 3.4 (1976): 797-824.

This article takes an exchange that we are quite familiar with, greetings, and looks at it in a context that is quite distant from our everyday encounters: Tuareg men riding camels in the middle of the desert. It is a classic ethnographic description, which makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar. To understand what greetings mean to the Tuareg, we must try to understand what it means to live and travel in the desert. We are then caught between what anthropologists call the 'etic' and 'emic' perspective, that is, between the comparative view of a certain type of action (e.g. greetings) and the local understanding of that action. The tension between these two types of accounts is what gives anthropology its special quality within the social sciences.

  1. Describe the three levels of analysis mentioned at the beginning of the article (etic/observational, emic/descriptive, and universal/explanatory)
  2. What are the factors that enter into the identification of the approaching party in the desert?
  3. What do the terms tenere and asuf refer to?
  4. Why do the authors of the article say that the two opening formulas are formulaic but at the same time functionally distinctive?
  5. Why is the handshake potentially dangerous among the Tuareg?
  6. Why is it offensive to ask a man his father's name?
  7. How is the notion of "formulaic speech" essential to the authors' definition of "greeting"?
  8. What are the functions of greetings discussed in this article?
  9. What are some of the dimensions of greetings that seem to vary across societies? What are some of the dimensions that seem to stay the same?
  10. Compare the greetings among the Tuareg with the greetings you are familiar with.

Zentella, A.C. "Returned Migration, Language, and Identity: Puerto Rican Bilinguals in Dos Worlds/Two Mundos." International Journal of the Sociology of Language 84 (1990): 81-100.

Is it possible to live in two worlds at the same time? Or do we have to choose? What is the role of language in the definition of our identity? This article by Ana Celia Zentella addresses these important issues from the point of view of Puerto Rican bilingual speakers. They seem to be able to live in dos worlds/two mundos. Zentella concludes with Henry Padrón's beautiful poem which inspired the title of the article.

  1. What is the 'we-they' dichotomy discussed by Zentella?
  2. Does code-switching imply decay of a language?
  3. Does language loss necessarily mean cultural loss?
  4. What are the attitudes by Puerto Ricans towards the N.Y. accent (Nuyorican Spanish)?
  5. How do people in Puerto Rico see the future of Spanish?
  6. What is the significance of Henry Padrón's poem at the end of Zentella's article?

Zentella, A.C. Growing Up Bilingual. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

Ch. 1

  1. What does it mean to study "doing being bilingual"?
  2. Discuss thefollowing apparent paradox: "The closer the researcher is to the group, ... the more myopic the researcher may become about the significance of everyday acts that group members take for granted" (p. 7).
  3. What is an "anthropolitical linguistics"?

Ch. 2

  1. What did you learn about the children in the study and their families?
  2. In what sense was el bloque a community?
  3. What is the contrast between the romantic idealization of Puerto Rico and its socioeconomic reality?
  4. Zentella identifies several dialects spoken by Nuyoricans and found in the interactions she recorded. What are they?

Ch. 3

  1. What are some of the features that characterize Non-Standard Puerto Rican Spanish?
  2. Which activities are dominated by English and which ones by Spanish?
  3. Does the fact that a given activity is dominated by one language or dialect mean that the others varieties are not found?
  4. How is the bilingual/multidialectal repertoire of el bloque expressed?
  5. Why did girls know more Spanish than boys?
  6. What other factors, in addition to gender, had an impact on fluency in Spanish?
  7. Did parents expect their children to speak Spanish with them?

Ch. 4

  1. From reading the linguistic and ethnographic portraits of the families, what factors emerge as relevant for the ability to remain bilingual?
  2. What were some of the differences between Paca's and her brother Herman's experiences that had consequences for their fluency in Spanish?
  3. What were the three features used by Lolita as a "junior ethnographer" to decide which language to speak with someone?
  4. What does it mean to say that Lolita had "metalinguistic awareness"?
  5. Why was Güiso and Vicky's expectation that their children would become bilingual unrealistic?

Ch. 5

  1. What is Gumperz's (1982) definition of code-switching?
  2. What is "Spanglish" and how is it perceived inside and outside of the NY Puerto Rican community?
  3. What is the difference between intersentential and intrasentential code-switching?
  4. How can we distinguish between loans (or borrowings) and code-switching? (examples?)
  5. In what situations would Puerto Rican children switch to Spanish?
  6. What are the most common functions of code-switching in Zentella's data?
  7. What does Zentella say about the popular belief that speakers code switch when at a loss for words?
  8. What do Zentella's data tell us about the extent to which Spanish and English are identified as a "we" vs. "they" code?

Ch. 7

  1. Which factors affected the ability of the children in the study to continue to be bilingual? In answering this question, be prepared to speak in general and to give some specific examples (e.g. what happened to different children in the study).

Ch. 10

  1. In which contexts do members of el Bloque engage in literacy events?
  2. What do the terms "papito" and "mamita" tell us about children's socialization in Puerto Rico?
  3. How were children expected to learn?
  4. In what sense was performance important in socialization?
  5. How was the issue of race evident in Paca's talk about her two sons?
  6. What was the therapist's response to Blanca's worries about her son's stutter?
  7. What was the community's reaction to Elli's daughter's (Chari) skillful use of language at an early age?
  8. What does Zentella's study contribute to the literature on language socialization?
  9. What are some of differences between the socialization of girls and boys in the study?
  10. Despite differences across families, what were the core expectations that all four mothers in the study had of their children?

Ch. 12

  1. How does Zentella criticizes the view that identifies Puerto Rican children's problems with English deficiency?
  2. What is the problem with "purism" and the view that a real bilingual never mixes languages?
  3. What arguments does Zentella use in favor of good bilingual programs?