Study Questions Archive
following are study questions and summaries for ALL the readings used by
Alessandro Duranti in Anthropology 33 ("Culture and
Communication") over the last few years.
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:
L. (1986) Veiled
G. (1990) How to
Tame a Wild Tongue
L. (1933) Speech
A. (1997) Linguistic
A. (1994) From Grammar
A. and E. Ochs (1986) Literacy
Instruction in Western Samoa
A., E. Ochs, and E. K. Ta`ase (1995) Change
and Tradition in Literacy Instruction in a Samoan-American
S. (1982) Sound and Sentiment:
Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression
C. (1964) Baby
Talk in Six Languages
E. and N. Besnier (1989) The
Historical Development of Languages
C. (1983) From the Native's
Point of View': On the Nature of Anthropological
C. (1994) Professional
J. (1992) Contextualization
M. ( 1962) Being
T. C., C. Roberts and J. Cook-Gumperz (1982) Language
and the Disadvantage: The Hidden Process
P. V. (1993) Language,
History, and Identity: Ethnolinguistic Studies
of the Arizona Tewa
M. (1994) The African-American
Speech Community: Reality and Sociolinguistics
F. (1986) The Dreaming:
Time and Space
E. and B.B. Schieffelin (1984) Language
Acquisition and Socialization: Three Developmental Stories
H. (1975) Everyone Has
B. (1982) The Esthetics
of Social Context
D. (1983) On the
Translation of Style in Oral Narrative
I. A., A. D. Grimshaw, et al. (1976) Greetings
in the Desert
A.C. (1990) Returned
Migration, Language, and Identity: Puerto Rican
Bilinguals in Dos Worlds/Two Mundos
A. C. (1997) Growing Up Bilingual
Abu-Lughod, L., Veiled Sentiments, University of California Press.
Study questions: chaps. 1 & 2
was it important that Abu-Lughod be accompanied by her father
when she was looking for a site for her project?
- 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)?
- How did Abu-Lughod encounter Bedouin poems?
- How does Abu-Lughod explain the fact that Bedouin women and
their point of view were ignored in previous studies?
- What is the basic difference in sentiments expressed in poetry
and in ordinary conversation?
- How do the Bedouins distinguish themselves from the Egyptians?
- 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?
- How has sedentarization affected social bonds among neighbors?
- What does the expression 'We go to them and they come to
us' mean in Bedouin society?
- How is the existence of bonds between groups recognized and
- 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
- How is the family a metaphor for social relations? Give examples.
- What does a man need to do to be respected, have honor in
- How is abuse of power controlled?
- What is hasham, how is it displayed, and how is it explained by Abu-Lughod?
- What is the symbolism of white, black, and red among the Bedouins?
- Why is there a preference for endogamous marriages (i.e. a preference for patrilineal parallel-cousin marriage)?
- Why is sexual immodesty more an affront to a woman's kin than to her husband?
- When do Bedouin women veil? How does Abu-Lughod explain the logic of veiling (e.g. for whom women veil)?
- Why is ceasing to veil a bid for status?
- What is a ghinnawa? Who produces it? When? For what?
- How does poetry represent a contrast between public discourse
and private discourse?
- What is the contrast between the values implied in hasham
and the values implied in poetry? Can they be reconciled?
- In what sense does Abu-Lughod argue that there is conformity
in the poems as well?
- 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.
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
with Zentella's and Kroskrity's.
does Anzaldúa mean when she says 'I am my language'?
does 'nosotros los mexicanos' mean for Anzaldúa
and the community she identifies with?
- What is the 'borderland conflict' discussed in the article?
How is it manifested?
L. (1933) "Speech
Communities." Language. Eds. G. Allen and Unwin. London.
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.
- What is Bloomfield's definition of speech community?
- Is there a correspondence between a person's linguistic and
- What is a native language?
is it difficult to establish the exact boundaries of a
- Are there individual differences in speech? What does Bloomfield
say about it?
- According to Bloomfield, what accounts for a person's particular
type of language (dialect, 'accent', etc.)?
- How does Bloomfield distinguish between Standard and non-standard?
- What kinds of experience have you had with linguistic differences?
- Differences between recent and older speech communities.
- What is a 'speech-island'?
- What does Bloomfield say about bilingualism?
- What do you think is Bloomfield's attitude toward linguistic
A. (1997) Linguistic
Anthropology. Cambridge University Press.
Ch. 1, Section 1.4 and Ch. 6, section 6.8.
- Duranti distinguishes among different uses of the term 'performance'
-- What are they?
- How is the notion of 'performance1 relevant to the study
of language use in everyday life?
- How can linguistic expressions be 'indexes'? Give examples.
- Why are indexes important for understanding the relation
between language and context?
- How is the notion of 'participation' relevant to linguistic
- What is phonosymbolism (also called 'sound symbolism')? Can
you give a few examples (see also Feld's chapter)?
- How do indexes help construct local concepts of gender?
- 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
- 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
A. From Grammar to
Politics. University of California Press, 1994.
- What is the difference between 'field linguistics' and 'ethnographic
- What is the 'figure-ground relation' representing? How does
it relate to the research project described by Duranti?
- What is the 'transformation' undergone by Duranti the researcher
in the field?
- Describe the differences between the language data collected
with bilingual speakers and those taken from spontaneous interactions?
- 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?
- What is the fono?
- How were the interactions recorded in the village transcribed
- What is the fa`alupega and why it is important for
- What is a transcript?
- What does chapter 3 say about hierarchy in Samoa?
- How is the fa`alupega useful for making sense of what
is going on in a fono?
- Why does Duranti say that Samoans love 'order and its permutations'?
- What are the relevant ('emic') distinctions made by the participants
in sitting inside of a Samoan house?
- What is the relationship between the ideal seating arrangement
and what experienced by documenting actual meetings?
- What do we learn from the episode of the woman titled Tafili
going to the fono?
- How does the kava ceremony act as a temporal boundary? What
information does it convey to the participants and the researcher?
- What is the relationship between the order of kava distribution
and the order of speakers?
- In what sense is the Samoan lauga an 'epic' genre?
- What is the basic plan of the lauga?
- What is Bloch's position on what he calls 'formalized language'?
- 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
- What are the features of heteroglossia that are represented
in the fono speeches?
- How does the article represent the relationship between formal
oratory and everyday speech?
5 (114-29, 138-143), and Ch. 6 (144-48, 151-166)
- What are the strategies used in the fono to introduce
the agenda of the meeting?
- Why is it that participants in the fono seem reluctant to
go into details at the beginning of the meeting?
- In what sense is the agenda of the fono an 'abstract' of
- What is the difference between the way English grammar and
Samoan grammar treat Agents (i.e. subjects of transitive clauses)?
- How are agents defined by Duranti?
- How common are fully expressed Agents and what kinds of beings
do they tend to be in natural discourse?
- 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?
- 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?
- How does the interaction described on pp. 159-164 illustrate
the use of the same construction for giving credit?
is the "moral flow hypothesis"?
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).
- What does the Alphabet table illustrate?
- 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?
- What is the Samoan concept of person that emerges from the
different kinds of interactions discussed in the paper?
- According to Duranti and Ochs, there are economic consequences
of literacy activities. Which concepts are more adaptive to
a capitalist economy?
- What does it mean to say that in Samoa work is both hierarchically
organized and cooperative?
- How does the concept of taapua`i'supporter' illustrate
the Samoan notion of task accomplishment?
is the culturally "new" aspect of the teacher's answer lelei "good" in
the Samoan schools?
Duranti, E. Ochs, and E. K. Ta`ase. "Change and Tradition in
Literacy Instruction in a Samoan American Community." Educational Foundations 9
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.
- What is the function of the literacy classes offered in the
Samoan church in Southern California described in the article?
is the nu`u lotu?
- How is the use of alphabet table used in the US different
from its use in a Western Samoan village?
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.
- Who are the Kaluli, where do they live, how are they socially
organized, when did contact between the Kaluli and European
goods take place?
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,
- How do Kaluli think about bird sounds?
- What are gono to?
- 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)
- What are some of the ethnographic themes of the songs identified
- What is phonetic symbolism (or phonosymbolism or sound symbolism)?
- How does the relation between Sound and sentiment among the
Kaluli illustrate the relation between nature and culture?
- (note: don't worry too much about Feld's structural analysis
on pp. 38-43)
C. (1964) "Baby Talk
in Six Languages." American Anthropologist 66.6 -Part
Ferguson has always been interested in 'marginal systems' in
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,'
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
the properties of baby talk in six languages and shows
that there are some interesting similarities, especially in the
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).
- How 'baby talk' an example of what Ferguson calls 'simplified
- What are some of the ways in which 'normal, adult' languages
are modified to create 'baby talk'?
- What are some of the characteristics of 'baby talk' across
- What are some of the hypotheses about the functions of 'baby
talk' discussed by Ferguson?
- Is 'baby talk' universal? (compare Ferguson's article with
Ochs and Schieffelin's)
E. and N. Besnier. (1989) "The
Historical Development of Languages." Language: Its Structure
and Use. New York: Harcourt, 1989. 277-294
chapter, taken from an excellent introductory text to linguistics,
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
hypothesis is that "When scholars reconstruct an ancestral language,
they also implicitly reconstruct an ancestral society and an
ancestral culture." (p. 281)
- Which features of languages change?
- What is a language family? What are some examples of language
- What are some of the conditions that create the context for
the development of different languages from a common (parent)
- How do we know that Polynesians came from the East and not
from the West?
- What kind of special situation do islands represent for historical
is a "cognate"?
is the method of "comparative reconstruction"?
- What does the star (*) before a Proto-form mean?
- 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 ?
- What are some of the basic principles to keep in mind when
doing linguistic reconstruction?
the Native's Point of View: On the Nature of Anthropological
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:
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
it takes the unpredictability of human existence
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.
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.
is the difference between an "experience-near" and
an "experience-distant" concept? Give an example.
does Geertz use the notion of "person" to talk about
- What is the the basic opposition used by Geertz to characterize
the Javanese concept of person?
- How does the Balinese concept of lek help us understand Geertz's
characterization of the Balinese self?
- How does Geertz use the word nisba to characterize the Moroccan
is the opposition that Geertz builds between the three
of self/person that he describes and the "western" concept
- 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?
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).
- What was the prosecution's error in presenting the case,
according to Goodwin?
- How was the viewing of the tape mediated during the trial?
was the role of experts in the trial and in the analysis
tape? (e.g. How did they use the notion of "tool"?)
- How are the categories of 'expert policeman' and 'suspect'
constructed through discourse and other means?
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.
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
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
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
an example of the type of analysis afforded his theoretical
- How does Gumperz use the notion of 'contextualization' and
how is it relevant to interpreting crosscultural encounters?
- What are contextualization cues?
- What are the different levels on which contextualization
questions for"Crosstalk" (BBC
- What is Crosstalk?
did you learn from watching the BBC program "Crosstalk"?
are the different types of encounters shown in "Crosstalk"?
How are they similar and how are they different?
features of communication did Gumperz highlight in
is happening in the segments shown in the program "Crosstalk"?
M. ( 1962) Being
and Time. 98-102 (on 'Equipment').
believe that one cannot understand contemporary debates about
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
does not help, despite the excellent work done by some
of his translators. I have chosen a few pages from his most famous
important book, Being and Time [Sein und Zeit], because
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
('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
part of our actions and enter into our interaction with
the surrounding world. They are 'nature' (e.g. they are made
but in a modified, culture-like sense. You will recognize
in Heidegger's definition of 'equipment' something very close
what archaeologists call 'artifacts.'
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
can the notion of "readiness-at-hand" be transferred
from tools (like the hammer) to other cultural artifacts
(e.g. linguistic forms)?
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.
what sense is language said to be part of a "reflexive
- What method was used to study miscommunication?
- 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
- What are the conclusions drawn by the authors on the reasons
for the breakdowns in communication during the job interview?
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.
1 (Ch. 2)
is the difference between tuÎ and hi:li in Arizona
- What type of language is prohibited in the ceremonies performed
in the kiva?
- 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.
Tewa say "Our language is our life (history)." What
do they mean?
was problematic in Kroskrity's assumption that he could
study "just the language itself"?
are the five differences between Tewa ethnolinguistics
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).
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).
- What are the languages spoken among the Tewa?
- What is the difference between situational and metaphorical
- What does it mean to say that gender, ethnicity, and class
are communicatively produced?
does "repertoire of identities" mean?
What is the relationship between language and identity
in this model?
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.
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
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
English" within the context of current debates on race,
class, and education.
- What was the controversy over the court case involving Black
English discussed by Morgan?
some examples of what Labov calls "Black English Vernacular" (BEV)
(and Morgan calls African American English (AAE).
- What are the 3 perspectives from which African American scholars
looked at AAE?
- What is the stereotype of the AAE speaker criticized by Morgan?
- Why does Morgan argue that one needs to take into consideration
the ideological implications of linguistic descriptions?
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.
- What is the difference between 'dreams' and 'The Dreaming'
in the Pintupi worldview?
- What does the concept of history as represented in The Dreaming
imply for the Pintupi?
- What are the different meanings of the word ngurra?
- What is the relationship between places and time as represented
in The Dreaming?
- 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):
- What do the paintings represent?
- What do circles (or semicircles, wavy lines, dots) represent?
- How do people learn what a painting means?
- What is the relationship between the painting and myth/stories/songs?
- What are the stories and songs about?
- 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?
- Who are these paintings for?
- What are the consequences of producing these paintings for
the people themselves?
- How did the people learn how to paint? When?
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?)
it true that to help children learn to speak, mothers
to them as early as possible and in the most simplified
way (use "Motherese")?
people in all society believe that the child's first
word is "mama" (or
its local translation)?
- What are the two meanings of 'language socialization'?
is the "paradox of familiarity" discussed by Ochs and
are the three "developmental stories" presented by
Ochs and Schieffelin?
- What are some of the behaviors that characterize white middle
class caregivers when they interact with infants?
- How do Kaluli mothers describe their babies? Do they talk
to them? When? How? How do they hold the babies? What do these
- How is speaking for the infant among the Kaluli evaluated
by Ochs and Schieffelin?
- When do the Kaluli think language begins for a child?
- What are some examples in which Kaluli mothers teach the
child what to say? What does *l*ma mean?
- Do Kaluli have 'baby talk'? Do Samoans have 'baby talk'?
- What are some of the differences between the Kaluli social
system and the Samoan system?
- If an utterance is unclear who is responsible in Samoa for
clarifying its meaning?
kind of typology of socialization and caregiver speech
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").
- In what sense does the study of language socialization merge
two different traditions of research (linguistic and anthropological
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.
does it mean to say, with Sacks, that "greetings are
- How is the time at which greetings occur related to how we
can tell whether they are absent?
is the difference between "proper conversationalists" and "minimal
- How can we still argue that two people are not proper conversationalists
despite the fact that they did engage in conversation?
- How is sequence important in greetings?
is a "greeting substitute"? How do we recognize it?
- "Given the occurrence of an answer from subset , 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.
- What is the diagnostic sequence?
- Why would someone who is feeling lousy not say so when asked
how he or she is?
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
- What is the 'logic of culture' mentioned by Shore?
- Why does Shore criticize Mead's characterization of Samoan
was the difference between pªula and ao siva in
- How are some of the features of those two types of dances
reproduced in contemporary Samoa according to Shore?
- What are the differences between `aiuli and siva?
- Did we see some examples of these styles in the video tapes
shown in class?
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.
If you want to find out more about "paralinguistic" features
(45), have a look at Gumperz's article).
- What are the prosodic and paralinguistic features that characterize
Zuni verbal performance?
- Why is it important to understand native prosody and paralinguistic
is Tedlock's position on Boas's principle to provide "faithful
rendering of the native tales"?
- What did Cushing add of his own in his collection Zuni Folk
is the label "primitive" (however interpreted) inappropriate
in describing Native American oral narratives?
- How are sentiments and feelings typically represented in
is Tedlock critical of theoreticians (like Lévi-Strauss)
are only interested in the "content" of Native American
poetry and myths?
I. A., A. D. Grimshaw, et al. "Greetings in the Desert." American Ethnologist 3.4
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
- Describe the three levels of analysis mentioned at the beginning
of the article (etic/observational, emic/descriptive, and universal/explanatory)
- What are the factors that enter into the identification of
the approaching party in the desert?
- What do the terms tenere and asuf refer to?
- Why do the authors of the article say that the two opening
formulas are formulaic but at the same time functionally distinctive?
- Why is the handshake potentially dangerous among the Tuareg?
- Why is it offensive to ask a man his father's name?
is the notion of "formulaic speech" essential to the
authors' definition of "greeting"?
- What are the functions of greetings discussed in this article?
- 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?
- Compare the greetings among the Tuareg with the greetings
you are familiar with.
Migration, Language, and Identity: Puerto Rican Bilinguals
in Dos Worlds/Two
Mundos." International Journal of the Sociology of Language 84
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
mundos. Zentella concludes with Henry Padrón's beautiful
poem which inspired the title of the article.
- What is the 'we-they' dichotomy discussed by Zentella?
- Does code-switching imply decay of a language?
- Does language loss necessarily mean cultural loss?
- What are the attitudes by Puerto Ricans towards the N.Y.
accent (Nuyorican Spanish)?
- How do people in Puerto Rico see the future of Spanish?
is the significance of Henry Padrón's poem at the end of Zentella's
Zentella, A.C. Growing
Up Bilingual. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.
does it mean to study "doing being bilingual"?
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).
is an "anthropolitical linguistics"?
- What did you learn about the children in the study and their
- In what sense was el
bloque a community?
- What is the contrast between the romantic idealization of
Puerto Rico and its socioeconomic reality?
- Zentella identifies several dialects spoken by Nuyoricans
and found in the interactions she recorded. What are they?
- What are some of the features that characterize Non-Standard
Puerto Rican Spanish?
- Which activities are dominated by English and which ones
- Does the fact that a given activity is dominated by one language
or dialect mean that the others varieties are not found?
- How is the bilingual/multidialectal repertoire of el
- Why did girls know more Spanish than boys?
- What other factors, in addition to gender, had an impact
on fluency in Spanish?
- Did parents expect their children to speak Spanish with them?
- From reading the linguistic and ethnographic portraits of
the families, what factors emerge as relevant for the ability
to remain bilingual?
- What were some of the differences between Paca's and her
brother Herman's experiences that had consequences for their
fluency in Spanish?
were the three features used by Lolita as a "junior
ethnographer" to decide which language to speak with
does it mean to say that Lolita had "metalinguistic
was Güiso and Vicky's expectation that their children
would become bilingual unrealistic?
- What is Gumperz's (1982) definition of code-switching?
is "Spanglish" and
how is it perceived inside and outside of the NY Puerto
- What is the difference between intersentential and intrasentential
- How can we distinguish between loans (or borrowings) and
- In what situations would Puerto Rican children switch to
- What are the most common functions of code-switching in Zentella's
- What does Zentella say about the popular belief that speakers
code switch when at a loss for words?
do Zentella's data tell us about the extent to which
Spanish and English are identified as a "we" vs. "they" code?
- 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).
- In which contexts do members of el Bloque engage in literacy
do the terms "papito" and "mamita" tell us about children's
socialization in Puerto Rico?
- How were children expected to learn?
- In what sense was performance important in socialization?
- How was the issue of race evident in Paca's talk about her
- What was the therapist's response to Blanca's worries about
her son's stutter?
- What was the community's reaction to Elli's daughter's (Chari)
skillful use of language at an early age?
- What does Zentella's study contribute to the literature on
- What are some of differences between the socialization of
girls and boys in the study?
- Despite differences across families, what were the core expectations
that all four mothers in the study had of their children?
does Zentella criticizes the view that identifies Puerto Rican children's
problems with English deficiency?
is the problem with "purism" and the view that a real
bilingual never mixes languages?
arguments does Zentella use in favor of good bilingual programs?