ANTH 252: Language and Culture

ANTH 252: Language and Culture


  • Searle, J.R. (1971/1999). A classification of illocutionary acts. In D. Carbaugh, ed., Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.   In course packet.     Friday 10 November.     Presented by Ted.
  • Rosaldo, M. (1980/1999). The Things We Do with Words: Ilongot Speech Acts and Speech Act Theory in Philosophy. In D. Carbaugh (1999).     Monday 13 November.     Presented by Marjie.
  • Basso, K.H. (1996) Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Chapter 4.   In course packet.    Wednesday 15 November.     Presented by Andrew.
  • Basso, K.H. (1971) “To Give Up on Words”: Silence in Western Apache Culture. In Basso, K.H. and M.E. Opler, eds., Apachean Culture History and Ethnology. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.   In course packet.    Friday 17 November.     Presented by Shane.

Guest Lecture Monday 27 November

Dr. Harvey Markowitz, Department of Religion, W&L. Topic TBA.

Assessment #3 Questions (Due Friday 14 December)

  1. Describe Searle’s five categories of illocutionary (speech) acts, giving an example of each. What is awkward or even ungrammatical about a sentence like “I apologize I stepped on your toe”, as opposed to “I apologize for stepping on your toe” or “I’m sorry I stepped on your toe”?
  2. Contrast Searle’s “flat” five-way classification with the system described by Rosaldo for Ilongot speech acts. What example does Rosaldo give to illustrate her claim that the Ilongot do not think about all directives in the same way?
  3. In what two, quite different senses, does wisdom “sit in places”, according to Basso’s 1996 book chapter on Western Apache?
  4. Under what circumstances do Western Apache speakers “give up on words”, according to Basso (1971)? How are these similar and different from the situations in which white Europeans and Americans keep silent?
  5. Contrast the attitude toward place in Western (European / Judeo-Christian) cosmology with the attitude toward place in Native American cosmology, as presented by Professor Markowitz. How does the Western Apache sense of place differ from the Tohono O’odham sense of place, according to the two categories described by Prof. Markowitz’s colleague Vine Deloria?

Suggestions for Further Research

  • Novelists writing about an unpleasant future have sometimes relied on “degraded” versions of current language to make a point about the direction in which they feel popular culture is headed. The most famous example is probably the Newspeak of George Orwell’s 1984, but other examples can be found: the Russian-influenced “Nadsat” spoken by the teenage anti-hero in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and the corporate-flavored speech of the characters in George Saunder’s CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (note the spelling). Write a paper investigating the common features of this sort of language, across the works of two or more authors. How do these authors use the similarities and differences between current and future language to set the tone of the story?