Talk:Linguistic anthropology

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At some point this article should be incorporated into the general article in linguistics. Slrubenstein

I think there ought to be a new page on linguistic ideology. It's an important topic and there are scads of books about it. Unfortunately, I'm not so confident in my knowledge of the topic that I want to start/shape the page. Anyone want to step up? Superabo 08:21, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

And another thing: this page links to anthropological linguistics, but that page seems to have little to do with the concept linking it. What to do about that?

Since when are asterisks used to denote foreign terms? 21:51, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Is there a way to make this a bit less, um, academic?[edit]

I realize it might be difficult to keep it concise, but there is a lot of jargon in this article. Such as: 

the unfolding in realtime of a "'hypertrophic' set of parallel orders of iconicity and indexicality that seem to cause the ritual to create its own sacred space through what appears, often, to be the magic of textual and nontextual metricalizations, synchronized"

that's basically nonsense for a person trying to learn about linguistic anthropology as opposed to someone who already knows about it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Josephbsullivan (talkcontribs) 06:39, 10 March 2007 (UTC).Josephbsullivan 06:41, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Signed. As a beginning linguist, some of the jargon in this article gets away from me. Certain parts later in the article seem sort of coherent but oddly disfluent in meaning, a little bit semantically marked. --Utopianfiat (talk) 01:54, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Hi, There seems to be an error in the reference to the Bible passage cited: "gospel of Mark, chapter 2, verses 6-8". There doesn't seem to be any mention in the verses cxited that refer to the "knowledge of inner states of others" as claimed in this entry. Could anyone give the correct reference???

By the way, FWIW I don't think this section should be included in a larger section and DEFINITELY NOT into linguistics!!!

LookingGlass 10:00, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

I do not think that this article should be less "academic" but rather explained more. The basic outline that is present is a good if not developed skeleton of the topic. The "jargon" are terms and ideas that are crucial to the field and in defining the words more topics and important ideas could be discussed. For example, expanding the comments on Code Switching would allow more than the few comments on linguistic ideology and branch into topics like identifying the audience and identifying one's self in terms of other groups of people. Code Switching is not just about ideology, it wraps up topics like cultural identity and how that is tied to language. If the number of communities trying to preserve local languages in environments where the official governmental language is different (like Gaelic in Scotland or Musqueam in BC Canada) says anything, it shows that language indexes group identity. Preserving such languages was actually part of the original goal of Anthropological Linguists who practiced "Salvage Anthropology", so called because they were trying to document cultures that were in danger of "disappearing" due to Western European influence through colonialism.
The areas of interest section is a little long and might (eventually) need to have shorter summaries and links to corresponding pages. In the meantime it might be easier to understand if things were bullet pointed and summarized with links to the corresponding studies rather than summaries of the studies which can look a bit daunting to the reader.
Overall, I do not find the article horrible to read, but I have also spend a few years learning about the field and reading some of the major pieces of literature. Going back to Alessandro Duranti and Dell Hymes as references and suggested readings would be a good start because they have both edited books that present ideas for students as well as writing their own research for people within the field. If a new term is used it should be defined, or linked to a related page, rather than assuming that it is known by the audience. For instance, "Performance" is linked to its own page, but a short definition along the lines of "the act of speaking in a situation" would be a helpful addition. "Iconicity" and "Indexicality" should also be expanded because they are major parts of the field and really show how Linguistics and Anthropology overlap. I would suggest referencing works like Bruce Mannhiem's Iconicity and Rupert Stasch's "Ritual and Oratory Revisited: The Semiotics of Effective Action".

LingAnthNerd (talk) 15:12, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Bettering this article[edit]

The second paragraph of the "Ideologies" section should be deleted. It is poorly written. It uses "impact" as a verb ('impacted'). It cites an op-ed piece in the NY Times as an authority on academic subjects. It is poorly argued: it sets up a straw person and demolishes it. The "blood" metaphor may equally well mean that the British traditions and institutions deeply informed the social organization of the new republic -- much more so than the Spanish ones. What this means is that the paragraph commits the cardinal sin of being ideological -- ironically in the section about abuses of language for ideological purposes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Adnakhwp (talkcontribs) 03:10, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

This article confuses the concepts of "anthropological linguistics" and "linguistic anthropology" and treats both in inconsistent and incoherent manners. I will undertake a serious clean up soon.·Maunus· ·ƛ· 17:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't understand the point of dispute. The article mentions "anthropological linguistics" and "linguistic anthropology." Are you suggesting that is reverses the labels? In that case, I disagree - I think the current discussion is reasonably accurate. Also, could you suggest more concretely which elements you find inconsistent and incoherent?

Personally, I find the introductory paragraph headed "Anthropological issues studied via linguistic methods and data" confusing and perhaps misleading. The rest of the article seems acceptable, though.Cnilep (talk) 17:56, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Actually you are right. I was too quick on the trigger there. I was reading the article in connection with the article on anthropological linguistics: on further thought I think its the latter that is disputable. This article is just written in an obfuscating, or overly academic manner which I think confused me. I will try to word it down to my level. Just to check my pre-theoretical understaning of the terminology: If I were to define "linguistic anthropology" I would start by saying that from the beginning it was the part of anthropology that studies language, back when descriptive linguistics in the USA was seen as a subdiscipline of anthropology. Then I would say that as descriptive linguistics fused with structural linguistics and historical linguistics into the discipline now known simply as linguistics, linguistic anthropology came to mean specifically the study of culture through linguistic methods (this would be the second paradigm I suppose). In my understanding, currently linguistic anthropology can be said to differ from anthropological linguistics in that the first is a subdiscipline of anthropology that applies linguistic methods to study anthropological phenomena, whereas the second is a subdiscipline of linguistics that study linguistic phenomena in their cultural setting and the interrelatedness between linguistic phenomena and anthropological phenomena. How do you feel about such a definition?
Yes, that sounds about right.Cnilep (talk) 18:49, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
I do disagree slightly with the historical progression of paradigms. Although I do understand that anthropological linguistics can be seen as having sprung from linguistic anthropology as Duranti states, I think it would be less confusing to see it as having sprung from linguistics proper, and not less true. I think it rests a lot on the understanding of Dell Hymes as being the principal father of anthtopological linguistics, which i think is debatable: I would go further back to Boas, Sapir and Whorf to find the roots of anthropological linguistics. Such important fields of anthropological linguistics as colour terminology research, linguistic taxonomy studies, spatio-temporal terminology research and categorization research can't really be traced back to Hymes - and indeed they developed parallel with his work. Ethnography of speaking/ethnolinguistics is certainly an important part of anthropological linguistics but not the only one. Therefore I propose to move away from Duranti's interpretation of the historcial evolution of the discipline of linguistic anthropology, at least as the basis for the structure of the article. I also propose to change the definition of anthropological linguistics both here and in the article Anthropological linguistics ·Maunus· ·ƛ· 20:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)


While a lot of this is very interesting, none of this is Wikipedia-esque. I came here for answers, and all I got were tangents, esoteric examples and further confused. Give examples their own page, link to them from this page, and PUT UP DEFINITIONS! I still have absolutely no idea what linguistic anthropology is (or what anthropological linguistics is, for that matter). Please stay consistent with the Wikipedia standard; this style of writing is completely out of character. thank you —Preceding unsigned comment added by Halverso (talkcontribs) 20:22, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, it is very in character with academic anthropology - which has invented its own canting language to appear 'scientific' - plain language please! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Do something about this article![edit]

I am quite an ignorant on the matter portrayed in this article and that was precisely the reason why I looked it up in here, because I wanted to get at least a general, comprehensive idea of the topic. This is an article suited, if not to specialists in the field, at the very least to people with knowledge in social sciences and particularly in anthropology. By the looks of it I would say it is a very nice article, with lots of references and so one, but it is based on the principle you already know something. It starts with lots of jargon and academic works and results without explaining efficiently the basics. I find it lovely people should deepen the level of reliable knowledge (or so it seems) available in wikipedia, but nerds writing these things ought to keep in their brilliant minds there are people out there just looking for good basic, clear, straightforward information. My point is, this article neglects what I believe should be is main goal: to enlighten the common citizen on the topic!

Hugo Pereira —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:16, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Mr. Pereira, your point is quite germane. Those are my sentiments exactly. I'm doing some work on these articles and so are others. There are some obstacles - one is the intrinsic size and sprawling nature of the articles. Index of linguistics articles gives some idea of it.
It takes a long time just to get this material organized. A second factor is the confrontational nature of special interests, such as the opponents of evolution. Then there is the personal egotism of the authors, who also confront if you dare change a word of what THEY wrote. And finally is the confrontation of the admins, each of which has his own interpretation of WP policy and is also a WP editor. And finally there are just all the faults and failings of mankind. Bottom line: it's tough for a mass effort to get everything together. Many times I have been convinced that WP was incapable in certain areas, such as philosophy, but over a period of time I think you will find it is possible. Thank you for your useful opinion. If you should care to bite the bullet and plunge into the awful fray I am sure your view would make a difference. There would be a learning curve, which no doubt you would find as uncomfortable as all the rest of us.Dave (talk) 08:54, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Removing external links[edit]

Is there a reason that Niko Besnier's publications were removed? There was no edit summary. I find it handy to have a link to these primary works in linguistic anthropology. Cnilep (talk) 14:31, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Mr. Cnilep, if the person who deleted it did not give a reason I believe you can put it back and demand a reason. If you get another deletion without reason you can call it vandalism and revert it. You might get a reason, in which case you would have to discuss further. Sometimes material gets inadvertently deleted by people not yet that skilled in WP. You never can tell. If you get a confrontation - well, you are on your own. The resolution of conflict and confrontation is a tricky queation. There is a 3-reversion limit. Maybe an admin will step in, maybe not. Maybe the admin will be the obstacle. You put the money down and roll the dice. I'd change it for you but I'm busy. Bonne chance.Dave (talk) 09:07, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

The boxes, the boxes[edit]

We have linguistic anthropology and anthropological linguistics, and we also have two boxes, anthropology and linguistics, each of which references linguistics. I think this article should have the anthropology box and the other the linguistics box - they are so long you probably wouldn't put them both in - so I am tentatively switching.Dave (talk) 09:08, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Notes, References, Further reading[edit]

This page currently uses parenthetical citations, which is fully in keeping with Wikipedia's Manual of Style. The MOS allows either footnotes or parentheticals, so long as the style is consistent throughout the article (see Wikipedia:Citing sources). I note, though, that Biological anthropology, Cultural anthropology, and Social anthropology each use footnotes, while this article uses parentheticals. (Archaeology uses short footnotes combined with a list of full references. This has its own problems but is beyond the scope of my present suggestion.) A recent attempt by a new editor to improve the lead section also used footnotes and added a "Notes" section. I changed these to parentheticals to keep the page consistent.

Would anyone object to changing this page's citation style to footnotes to make it consistent with those of other anthropology sub-fields? Or, on the contrary, would any editor suggest reasons that the page should use parenthetical citations?

Second, the list of Further reading strikes me as unduly long. All of the items seem to be of high quality (though there are seven I haven't read), but 34 items seems excessive. Wikipedia:Layout suggests only that the section may contain "a reasonable number of editor-recommended publications that do not appear elsewhere in the article and were not used to verify article content." It's not clear what counts as "reasonable," but personally ten or so seems reasonable to me. Cnilep (talk) 14:14, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

I think the changes you suggested would be great. Footnotes are less distracting, easier to follow, and allow links to external websites for quick referencing. One can link a footnote to the exact page on google books. Revising the list on Further reading to books that are intended for people new to the field would be very beneficial. Pooya72 (talk) 15:00, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Hearing no objections, I have converted the references to footnotes. The "further reading" section still needs to be dealt with, but I hesitate to pare it without more input from other editors. Cnilep (talk) 17:30, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

The section on "Socialization" under "Areas of Interest is lacking in references, particularly the 2nd paragraph. Additionally, I think the wording could be made a bit more clear in the 2nd paragraph: "Ochs and Schieffelin demonstrated that members of all societies socialize children both to and through the use of language. Ochs and Taylor uncovered how, through naturally occurring stories told during dinners in white middle class households in Southern California, both mothers and fathers participated in replicating male dominance (the "father knows best" syndrome) by the distribution of participant roles such as protagonist (often a child but sometimes mother and almost never the father) and "problematizer" (often the father, who raised uncomfortable questions or challenged the competence of the protagonist). When mothers collaborated with children to get their stories told, they unwittingly set themselves up to be subject to this process."– Pau.guerra (talk) 03:19, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

October 2014[edit]

Where are the Underhill references? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:59, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Well spotted. The anonymous user who added several mentions of Underhill placed the citations inside a hidden comment. I tracked them down and changed the parenthetical references to footnotes, in keeping with the article's style. I don't know Professor Underhill's work and have not vetted the content. Someone may want to make sure that discussion is given due weight within this article. The only other scholars cited three or more times are Alessandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs, Bambi Schieffelin, and Michael Silverstein; I don't know whether James Underhill is similarly influential. Cnilep (talk) 06:06, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
According to Web of Science, for what it's worth (and given WoS's coverage of social sciences and humanities, it's not worth all that much) M. Silverstein has an h-index of 86 with average citations per paper at 24.5, A. Duranti has h=11 and citations average 17.5, while J.W. Underhill has h=2 and citations average 1.2. Cnilep (talk) 06:23, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
I think that is a good sign we dont need to cite him that much. His H index is almost as low as mine. :)User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:04, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

I've removed the paragraph discussing J.W. Underhill's work in detail. I also moved the citation of Trabant and one of Underhill to the section "Anthropological linguistics". I think that is not really the most appropriate place for it, as that label mainly describes twentieth century American scholarship and Trabant and Underhill are twenty-first century Europeans, but that is where von Humboldt is currently discussed. I also removed the label "Continental Linguistic Anthropology", as I don't know of anyone actually using that term outside of Wikipedia. Someone should probably write a (properly balanced) section on linguistic anthropology in Europe. People like Jan Blommaert in the Netherlands and Nikolas Coupland in Wales are certainly doing things that I would call linguistic anthropology, though as far as I know it's usually called "applied linguistics" etc. in European institutions. Cnilep (talk) 02:16, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

There are also people such as Niko Besnier (in an anthropology department) and MArtha Sif Karrebæk (In a linguistics department). Unfortunately I dont know of any good secondary sources discussing the history or current practice of linguistic anthropology in Europe.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 02:29, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
I am likewise stumped for a good secondary source for European work comparable to Duranti or Hymes's summaries of North American linguistic anthropology. Here are a few possible sources comparing or summarizing research trends, which I plan to look into, in case anyone else wants to look, too.
  • Stanton Wortham (2008) "Linguistic Anthropology of Education", pp. 849-859, Encyclopedia of Language and Education
  • Jan Blommaert, James Collins, Monica Heller (2001) "Discourse and Critique: Part 1", pp. 5-12, Critique of Anthropology doi: 10.1177/0308275X0102100101
  • Jan Blommaert and Chris Bulcaen (2000) "Critical Discourse Analysis", pp. 447-466, Annual Review of Anthropology
Cnilep (talk) 05:02, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Cambridge Handbook[edit]

This is a good potential source for this article: Enfield, Nick; Kockelman, Paul; Sidnell, Jack, eds. (2014). Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge University press. .User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 02:17, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

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