A Basic Course in Anthropological Linguistics

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Canadian Scholars' Press, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 224 pages
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Language can be studied from several angles. The focus on the relation between language, thought, and culture is known as anthropological linguistics (AL). This text constitutes a basic introduction to the subject and techniques of AL. Traditionally, anthropological linguists have aimed to document and study the languages of indigenous cultures, especially North American ones. Today, however, the purview of this exciting science has been extended considerably to encompass the study of language as a general cultural phenomenon, and to determine genealogical relations among languages, so as to recreate ancient cultures through them. In non-technical language, with plenty of examples related to languages across the world, this book introduces the basic notions, concepts, and techniques of AL. It also discusses the origin and evolution of language, focusing on the comparison and reconstruction of language families. Its treatment of techniques for analysing sounds, words, sentences, and meanings introduces the reader to what must be understood about language and its structure in order to apply that knowledge to the study of thought and culture. The final two chapters examine how languages vary according to social factors and how languages influence cognition. To enhance the text's pedagogical utility, a set of practical activities and topics for study accompany each of the eight chapters. A glossary of technical terms is also included. The overall objective of the book is to show how the technical methodology of linguistic analysis can help students gain a deeper understanding of language as a strategy for classifying the world. The book's underlying premise is that the distinction between language and knowledge is hardly ever clear-cut. Indeed, the two enter into a constant synergy -- a synergy that defines the human condition.

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The Origin and Evolution of Language

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About the author (2004)

Dr. Marcel Danesi is Professor of Semiotics and Linguistics Anthropology at the University of Toronto. He is also Director of the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory. He has published on language and sign theory, and has founded a research center (Center for Communication and Information Sciences) for the study and documentation of the role of language in modern-day technological culture.

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