This textbook alternative introduces linguistic anthropology to undergraduate students, emphasizing the relevance of research in this field to contemporary social issues and to students’ everyday lives. In addition to presenting key concepts and approaches in linguistic anthropology (subject-specific goal), it encourages students to avoid ethnocentrism so as to study each culture in its own terms (discipline-specific goal), and helps them further develop their higher-order thinking skills (e.g., analysis, evaluation, synthesis) (general learning goal). In addition to its intended use in ANTH 3800 (Language and Culture), it is appropriate for other upper-level undergraduate courses in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology that are delivered through online, hybrid, or face-to-face instruction.
Divided into three sections, the textbook alternative consists of links to relevant journal articles, book chapters, newspaper articles, streaming videos, and websites:
Section 1 examines language as a system: it investigates the different components of the linguistic system and the relationships amongst them. It covers such topics as syntax, semantics, writing systems, conceptual metaphor, and non-verbal communication.
Section 2 presents different approaches to the study of language in culture – namely, the ethnography of communication, Conversation Analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, and language variation and change, with the goal of understanding how they yield important insights into issues like intercultural communication and accent-based discrimination.
Section 3 discusses how linguistic-anthropological research has shed light on language-related issues that have received much media coverage in recent years – e.g., gender miscommunication, bilingual education, the English Only Movement, and the Ebonics controversy in Oakland.
The textbook alternative uses a variety of resources to enrich students’ learning experience. Streaming videos enhance what students learn from journal articles. They appeal to visual learners in particular. Newspaper articles demonstrate the relevance of linguistic anthropology to contemporary social issues; they are especially effective as a springboard for introducing linguistic-anthropological research. Articles on websites like CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints Research Center expose students to both sides of the issues covered in Section 3 (see above).