Communications: Language Thought and Society.

Communications: Language
Thought and Society.
• In order for social scientists to understand
how people organize their lives, carry out
work, practice religions, and the like, they
need to be aware of how people talk to each
other (Bonvillain 2003, 2)
Communicative Interactions
Meanings transmitted through
Situational , Social
and Cultural
Situational Meanings:
• Conveyed through the form of
language depending on context
• Example: formal and informal
Social Meanings:
• Transmitted by members of
different social sectors through a
particular use of language
• Example: gender differentiation,
occupation, social class position,
Cultural Meanings:
• When words carry specific symbolic
meaning or cultural specific meanings.
Transmitted by a particular use of language
• Example: language expressions
The act of speaking is action
The importance of the links between
language and culture
• To understand the importance of
human communication
• To understand social and cultural
• Cultural contexts in which
language is used
Situational, social and cultural
meanings of language are created
within cultural contexts:
Cultural contexts are connected
to Cultural models:
Cultural Model
A cultural model is a
construction of reality that is
created, shared, and
transmitted by members of a
group (similar to an ideology)
Speech Community
A group of people who speak the
same language, share norms about
appropriate uses of language, and
share social attitudes toward
language ant its use.
Linguistic Anthropology
• Subfield of anthropology
• Study of language and comunication (crossculturally)
• Compares language use
• Language origins
• Relationship between language and culture
Linguistic Anthrop New Areas of
Nationalism and language
--Quebec, Ireland, and Yugoslavia
Language and social hierarchy
--class system and caste system
Language and politics
Linguistic Anthropology:
specialization and links
• Links to archaeology: language origins
• Links to physical anthropology: human
evolution and language
• Pragmatics: language usage
Characteristics of Human
• Productivity: the ability to communicate
many messages efficiently
• Displacement: the ability to think in the
past, the future and the present
The Properties of Languages
• Sounds --Phoneme: a minimal unit of sound
that functions to differentiate the meaning
of words
• Vocabulary
• Grammar: rules for combining sounds into
sequences that carry meaning
The Origins of Languages
• Started 50,000 as paralanguage: non-verbal
communication (body posture, voice tone, touch,
smell and facial movements)
• All languages are equally efficient (semantically
and grammatically)
• Semantics: the study of meaning in language,
including the analysis of meaning of words and
Why do you think it is important
to understand the relationship
between language,
communication and
social/cultural contexts?