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Chapter 9 Words and Culture
Transcript of Chapter 9 Words and Culture
1. Kinship systems are a universal feature of languages, because kinship is so important in social organization.
2. For example, Japanese has words for “older brother” and “younger brother” as well as “older sister” and “younger sister.”
3. How does community, age, gender affect the use of kinship terms like mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, etc.?
2. A folk taxonomy is a way of classifying a certain part of reality so that it makes some kind of sense to those who have to deal with it. It is useful because it helps people organize data in ways that appear to indicate how speakers use their languages to organize the world around them. They also show how systematic much of that behavior is.
3. How might we classify occupations, drinks, food, buildings, language, or technology in the English language?
1. The terms people use to describe color give us another means of exploring the relationships between different languages and cultures.
2. All languages make use of basic color terms. Linguists have found 11 basic color terms common to many languages. Interestingly, less technologically developed language communities have less color words (two only for dark and light) while more developed communities use more color words.
3. Are color terms arbitrary or is there a general pattern? If there is a pattern, what are its characteristics and why might it exist?
1. Rosch (1976) proposed that concepts are best viewed as prototypes. We constantly ‘type’ things and events in the world around us as we manage our lives.
2. For example, a ‘bird’ is best defined according to typical instances rather than wings, warm-bloodedness, and egg-laying characteristics. Thus, when one says “bird” we think of robin rather than toucan, penguin, ostrich, etc.
3. Hudson (1996) believes that prototype theory leads to an easier account of how people learn to use language. It can also be applied to social situations in which the language is used. What do you think?
1. Taboo is the prohibition or avoidance n any society of behavior believed to be harmful to its members in that it would cause them anxiety, embarrassment, or shame. Certain things are not to be said or certain objects can only be referred to in certain instances.
2. What are some taboos in your culture? How and why might they be broken?
Euphemism is when we avoid mentioning something directly.
Taboo and Euphemism
3. What are some common euphemisms in your first language? How do they differ in usage from euphemisms in another language or culture?
Chapter 9 Words and Culture
1. People use language to classify and categorize various aspects of the world in which they live, but they do not classify things the way scientists do. They use folk taxonomies rather than scientific classifications.