Linguistic anthropology


Linguistic anthropology is the
interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is Education, taught and researched at the college or u ...
study of how language influences social life. It is a branch of
anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influences social life. studi ...
that originated from the endeavor to document
endangered language An endangered language or moribund language is a language that is at risk of disappearing as its speakers Language death, die out or language shift, shift to speaking other languages. Language loss occurs when the language has no more native speak ...
s, and has grown over the past century to encompass most aspects of
language structure In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also ...
and use.Duranti, Alessandro (ed.), 2004
''Companion to Linguistic Anthropology''
Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Linguistic anthropology explores how language shapes communication, forms social identity and group membership, organizes large-scale cultural beliefs and ideologies, and develops a common cultural representation of natural and social worlds.Society for Linguistic Anthropology. n.d
About the Society for Linguistic Anthropology
(accessed 7 July 2010).

Historical development

Linguistic anthropology emerged from the development of three distinct
paradigm In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge ...
s. These paradigms set the ways of approaching linguistic anthropology: the first, now known as "
anthropological linguistics Anthropological linguistics is the subfield of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The trad ...
", focuses on the documentation of languages; the second, known as "linguistic anthropology", engages in theoretical studies of language use; the third, developed over the past two or three decades, studies issues from other sub-fields of anthropology with linguistic tactics. Though they developed sequentially, all three paradigms are still practiced today.Duranti, Alessandro. 2003. Language as Culture in U.S. Anthropology: Three Paradigms. ''Current Anthropology'' 44(3):323–348.

First paradigm: Anthropological linguistics

The first paradigm is known as anthropological linguistics. The field is devoted to themes unique to the sub-discipline: documentation of
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private and public, and ...

s that were then seen as doomed to
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by ...

, with special focus on the languages of native North American tribes. It is also the paradigm most focused on linguistics. The themes include: * Grammatical description, * Typological classification and *
Linguistic relativity The hypothesis of linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis , the Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language affects its speakers' world view or cognition, and thus people' ...

Second paradigm: Linguistic anthropology

The second paradigm can be marked by the switch from ''anthropological linguistics'' to ''linguistic anthropology'', signalling a more anthropological focus on the study. This term was preferred by
Dell Hymes Dell Hathaway Hymes (June 7, 1927 in Portland, Oregon – November 13, 2009 in Charlottesville, Virginia) was a linguist, Sociolinguistics, sociolinguist, anthropologist, and folkloristics, folklorist who established disciplinary foundations for t ...
, who was also responsible, with
John GumperzJohn Joseph Gumperz (January 9, 1922 – March 29, 2013) was an American linguist and academic. Gumperz was, for most of his career, a professor at the University of California#REDIRECT University of California {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R f ...
, for the idea of
ethnography Ethnography (from ''ethnos'' "folk, people, nation" and ''grapho'' "I write") is a branch of and the systematic study of individual s. Ethnography explores cultural phenomena from the point of view of the subject of the study. Ethnography ...

communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

. The term ''linguistic anthropology'' reflected Hymes' vision for the future, where language would be studied in the context of the situation, and relative to the community speaking it. This new era would involve many new technological developments, such as mechanical recording. This paradigm developed in critical dialogue with the fields of
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition ab ...

, on the one hand, and
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

, on the other. Hymes criticized folklorists' fixation on oral texts rather than the verbal artistry of performance. At the same time, he criticized the cognitivist shift in linguistics heralded by the pioneering work of
Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...

Noam Chomsky
, arguing for an ethnographic focus on language in use. Hymes had many revolutionary contributions to linguistic anthropology, the first of which was a new
unit of analysis The Unit of Analysis is the entity that frames what is being looked at in a study, or is the entity being studied as a whole, within which most factors of causality and change exist. The unit of analysis should not be confused with the unit of obs ...
. Unlike the first paradigm, which focused on linguistic tools like measuring of
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s and
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, but a word on this definition alw ...
s, the second paradigm's unit of analysis was the "speech event". A speech event is an event defined by speech occurring during it (ex. a lecture, debate). This is different from a speech situation, where speech could possibly occur (ex. dinner). Hymes also pioneered a linguistic anthropological approach to
ethnopoetics Ethnopoetics is a method of recording text versions of oral poetry Oral poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rh ...
. Hymes had hoped that this paradigm would link linguistic anthropology more to anthropology. However, Hymes' ambition backfired as the second paradigm marked a distancing of the sub-discipline from the rest of anthropology.Bauman, Richard. 1977. "Verbal Art as Performance." ''American Anthropologist'' 77:290–311. .Hymes, Dell. 1981 975Breakthrough into Performance. In ''In Vain I Tried to Tell You: Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics''. D. Hymes, ed. Pp. 79–141. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Third paradigm: Anthropological issues studied via linguistic methods and data

The third paradigm, which began in the late 1980s, refocused on anthropology by providing a linguistic approach to anthropological issues. Rather than focusing on exploring language, third paradigm anthropologists focus on studying culture with linguistic tools. Themes include: * investigations of personal and social identities * shared
ideologies An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of co ...
* construction of
narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized repre ...

interactions among individuals Furthermore, like how the second paradigm made use of new technology in its studies, the third paradigm heavily includes use of video documentation to support research.

Areas of interest

Contemporary linguistic anthropology continues research in all three of the paradigms described above: documentation of languages, study of language through context, and study of identity through linguistic means. The third paradigm, the study of anthropological issues, is a particularly rich area of study for current linguistic anthropologists.

Identity and intersubjectivity

A great deal of work in linguistic anthropology investigates questions of sociocultural
identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression and affiliation * Cultural identity, a person's self-affiliation (or categorization by others ...

linguistically and discursively. Linguistic anthropologist
Don Kulick Don Kulick (born 5 September 1960) is professor of anthropology at Uppsala University in Sweden. Kulick works within the frameworks of both cultural anthropology, cultural and linguistic anthropology, and has carried out field work in Papua New Gui ...
has done so in relation to identity, for example, in a series of settings, first in a village called
Gapun Gapun is a village in Marienberg Rural LLG, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, located near the mouth of the Sepik River. The language isolate Tayap language, Tayap is traditionally spoken in Gapun by the Tayap people. Gapun village is the sole ...
in northern
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (PNG; , ; tpi, Papua Niugini; ho, Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea ( tpi, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini; ho, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niu Gini), is a country in that comp ...

Papua New Guinea
.Kulick, Don. 1992. ''Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction: Socialization, Self and Syncretism in a Papua New Guinea Village''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. He explored how the use of two languages with and around children in Gapun village: the traditional language ( Taiap), not spoken anywhere but in their own village and thus primordially "indexical" of Gapuner identity, and
Tok Pisin Tok Pisin (,Laurie Bauer, 2007, ''The Linguistics Student’s Handbook'', Edinburgh Tok Pisin ), often referred to by English speakers as "New Guinea Pidgin" or simply "Pidgin", is a creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creo ...
, the widely circulating official language of New Guinea. ("indexical" points to meanings beyond the immediate context.)Silverstein, Michael. 1976. Shifters, Linguistic Categories, and Cultural Description. In ''Meaning in Anthropology''. K. Basso and H.A. Selby, eds. Pp. 11–56. Albuquerque: School of American Research, University of New Mexico Press. To speak the
Taiap language Tayap (also spelled Taiap; called Gapun in earlier literature, after the name of the village in which it is spoken) is an endangered An endangered species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, ...
is associated with one identity: not only local but "Backward" and also an identity based on the display of *hed* (personal autonomy). To speak Tok Pisin is to
index Index may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Fictional entities * Index (''A Certain Magical Index''), a character in the light novel series ''A Certain Magical Index'' * The Index, an item on a halo megastructure in the ''Halo'' series of ...
a modern, Christian (Catholic) identity, based not on *hed* but on *save*, an identity linked with the will and the skill to cooperate. In later work, Kulick demonstrates that certain loud speech performances in Brazil called *um escândalo*, Brazilian ''travesti'' (roughly, 'transvestite') sex workers shame clients. The travesti community, the argument goes, ends up at least making a powerful attempt to transcend the shame the larger Brazilian public might try to foist off on them, again by loud public discourse and other modes of performance.Kulick, Don, and Charles H. Klein. 2003. Scandalous Acts: The Politics of Shame among Brazilian Travesti Prostitutes. In ''Recognition Struggles and Social Movements: Contested Identities, Agency and Power''. B. Hobson, ed. Pp. 215–238. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In addition, scholars such as Émile Benveniste, Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall Benjamin Lee (academic), Benjamin Lee, Paul Kockelman, and Stanton Wortham (among many others) have contributed to understandings of identity as "intersubjectivity" by examining the ways it is discursively constructed.


In a series of studies, linguistic anthropologists Elinor Ochs and Bambi Schieffelin addressed the anthropological topic of socialization (the process by which infants, children, and foreigners become members of a community, learning to participate in its culture), using linguistic and other ethnographic methods. They discovered that the processes of enculturation and socialization do not occur apart from the process of language acquisition, but that children acquire language and culture together in what amounts to an integrated process. Ochs and Schieffelin demonstrated that baby talk is not universal proposition, universal, that the direction of adaptation (whether the child is made to adapt to the ongoing situation of speech around it or vice versa) was a variable that correlated, for example, with the direction it was held vis-à-vis a caregiver's body. In many societies caregivers hold a child facing outward so as to orient it to a network of kin whom it must learn to recognize early in life. Ochs and Schieffelin demonstrated that members of all societies socialize children both ''to'' and ''through'' the use of language. Ochs and Schieffelin uncovered how, through naturally occurring stories told during dinners in white middle class households in Southern California, both mothers and fathers participated in replicating Patriarchy, 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. Schieffelin's more recent research has uncovered the socializing role of pastors and other fairly new Bosavi converts in the Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea community she studies.Schieffelin, Bambi B. 1995. Creating evidence: Making sense of written words in Bosavi. ''Pragmatics'' 5(2):225–244.Schieffelin, Bambi B. 2002. Marking time: The dichotomizing discourse of multiple temporalities. ''Current Anthropology'' 43(Supplement):S5-17.Schieffelin, Bambi B. 2006. PLENARY ADDRESS: Found in translating: Reflexive language across time and texts in Bosavi, PNG. Twelve Annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture, University of California, Los Angeles, 2006. Pastors have introduced new ways of conveying knowledge, new linguistic epistemic markers—and new ways of speaking about time. And they have struggled with and largely resisted those parts of the Bible that speak of being able to know the inner states of others (e.g. the gospel of Mark, chapter 2, verses 6–8).


In a third example of the current (third) paradigm, since Roman Jakobson's student Michael Silverstein opened the way, there has been an increase in the work done by linguistic anthropologists on the major anthropological theme of ideologies,Silverstein, Michael. 1979. Language Structure and Linguistic Ideology. In ''The Elements: A Parasession on Linguistic Units and Levels''. R. Cline, W. Hanks, and C. Hofbauer, eds. Pp. 193–247. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.—in this case "language ideology, language ideologies", sometimes defined as "shared bodies of commonsense notions about the nature of language in the world."Rumsey, Alan. 1990. "Word, meaning, and linguistic ideology." ''American Anthropologist'' 92(2):346–361. . Silverstein has demonstrated that these ideologies are not mere false consciousness but actually influence the evolution of linguistic structures, including the dropping of "thee" and "thou" from everyday English language, English usage. Woolard, in her overview of "Code-switching, code switching", or the systematic practice of alternating linguistic varieties within a conversation or even a single utterance, finds the underlying question anthropologists ask of the practice—Why do they do that?—reflects a dominant linguistic ideology. It is the ideology that people should "really" be monoglot and efficiently targeted toward referential clarity rather than diverting themselves with the messiness of multiple varieties in play at a single time. Much research on linguistic ideologies probes subtler influences on language, such as the pull exerted on Tewa, a Kiowa-Tanoan language spoken in certain New Mexican pueblos and on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, by "kiva speech", discussed in the next section. Other linguists have carried out research in the areas of language contact, language endangerment, and 'English as a global language'. For instance, Indian linguist Braj Kachru investigated local varieties of English in South Asia, the ways in which English as a lingua franca, English functions as a lingua franca among multicultural groups in India. British linguist David Crystal has contributed to investigations of language death attention to the effects of cultural assimilation resulting in the spread of one dominant language in situations of colonialism.

Heritage language ideologies

More recently, a new line of ideology work is beginning to enter the field of
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

in relation to Heritage language, heritage languages. Specifically, applied linguist Martin Guardado has posited that heritage language ideologies are "somewhat fluid sets of understandings, justifications, beliefs, and judgments that linguistic minorities hold about their languages."Guardado, Martin. 2018.
Discourse, Ideology and Heritage Language Socialization: Micro and Macro Perspectives
'. New York & Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Guardado goes on to argue that ideologies of heritage languages also contain the expectations and desires of linguistic minority families "regarding the relevance of these languages in their children’s lives as well as when, where, how, and to what ends these languages should be used." Although this is arguably a fledgling line of language ideology research, this work is poised to contribute to the understanding of how ideologies of language operate in a variety of settings.

Social space

In a final example of this third paradigm, a group of linguistic anthropologists have done very creative work on the idea of social space. Duranti published a groundbreaking article on Samoan language, Samoan greetings and their use and transformation of social space.Duranti, Alessandro. 1992. "Language and Bodies in Social Space: Samoan Greetings." ''American Anthropologist'' 94:657–691. . Before that, Indonesianist Joseph Errington, making use of earlier work by Indonesianists not necessarily concerned with language issues per se, brought linguistic anthropological methods (and semiotic theory) to bear on the notion of the exemplary center, the center of political and ritual power from which emanated exemplary behavior. Errington demonstrated how the Javanese *priyayi*, whose ancestors served at the Javanese royal courts, became emissaries, so to speak, long after those courts had ceased to exist, representing throughout Java the highest example of "refined speech." The work of Joel Kuipers develops this theme vis-a-vis the island of Sumba, Indonesia. And, even though it pertains to Tewa people, Tewa Indians in Arizona rather than Indonesians, Paul Kroskrity's argument that speech forms originating in the Tewa kiva (or underground ceremonial space) forms the dominant model for all Tewa speech can be seen as a direct parallel. Silverstein tries to find the maximum theoretical significance and applicability in this idea of exemplary centers. He feels, in fact, that the exemplary center idea is one of linguistic anthropology's three most important findings. He generalizes the notion thus, arguing "there are wider-scale institutional 'orders of interactionality,' historically contingent yet structured. Within such large-scale, macrosocial orders, in-effect ritual centers of semiosis come to exert a structuring, Value (personal and cultural), value-conferring influence on any particular event of discursive Social interaction, interaction with respect to the meanings and significance of the verbal and other semiotic forms used in it."Silverstein, Michael. 2004. Cultural' Concepts and the Language-Culture Nexus." ''Current Anthropology'' 45(5):621–652. Current approaches to such classic anthropological topics as ritual by linguistic anthropologists emphasize not static linguistic structures but 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 (paranormal), magic of textual and nontextual metricalizations, synchronized."

Race, class, and gender

Addressing the broad central concerns of the subfield and drawing from its core theories, many scholars focus on the intersections of language and the particularly salient social constructs of race (and ethnicity), class, and gender (and sexuality). These works generally consider the roles of social structures (e.g., ideologies and institutions) related to race, class, and gender (e.g., marriage, labor, pop culture, education) in terms of their constructions and in terms of individuals' lived experiences. A short list of linguistic anthropological texts that address these topics follows:

Race and ethnicity

*Alim, H. Samy, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha F. Ball. 2016. Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas about Race. Oxford University Press. *Mary Bucholtz, Bucholtz, Mary. 2001. "The Whiteness of Nerds: Superstandard English and Racial Markedness." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 11 (1): 84–100. . *Mary Bucholtz, Bucholtz, Mary. 2010. White Kids: Language, Race, and Styles of Youth Identity. Cambridge University Press. *Jenny L. Davis, Davis, Jenny L. 2018. Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance. University of Arizona Press. *Dick, H. 2011. "Making Immigrants Illegal in Small-Town USA." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 21(S1):E35-E55. *Hill, Jane H. 1998. "Language, Race, and White Public Space." American Anthropologist 100 (3): 680–89. . *Jane H. Hill, Hill, Jane H. 2008. The Everyday Language of White Racism. Wiley-Blackwell. *García-Sánchez, Inmaculada M. 2014. Language and Muslim Immigrant Childhoods: The Politics of Belonging. John Wiley & Sons. *Ibrahim, Awad. 2014. The Rhizome of Blackness: A Critical Ethnography of Hip-Hop Culture, Language, Identity, and the Politics of Becoming. 1 edition. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. *Rosa, Jonathan. 2019. Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad. Oxford University Press. *Smalls, Krystal. 2018. "Fighting Words: Antiblackness and Discursive Violence in an American High School." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 23(3):356-383. *Spears, Arthur Kean. 1999. Race and Ideology: Language, Symbolism, and Popular Culture. Wayne State University Press. *Urciuoli, Bonnie. 2013. Exposing Prejudice: Puerto Rican Experiences of Language, Race, and Class. Waveland Press. *Wirtz, Kristina. 2011. "Cuban Performances of Blackness as the Timeless Past Still Among Us." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 21(S1):E11-E34.


*Fox, Aaron A. 2004. Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture. Duke University Press. *Shankar, Shalini. 2008. Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley. Duke University Press. *Nakassis, Constantine V. 2016. Doing Style: Youth and Mass Mediation in South India. University of Chicago Press.

Gender and sexuality

*Bucholtz, Mary. 1999. Why be normal?': Language and Identity Practices in a Community of Nerd Girls". Language in Society. 28 (2): 207–210. *Fader, Ayala. 2009. Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. Princeton University Press. *Gaudio, Rudolf Pell. 2011. Allah Made Us: Sexual Outlaws in an Islamic African City. John Wiley & Sons. *Kira Hall, Hall, Kira, and Mary Bucholtz. 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. New York: Routledge. *Jacobs-Huey, Lanita. 2006. From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and Becoming in African American Women's Hair Care. Oxford University Press. *Kulick, Don. 2000. "Gay and Lesbian Language." Annual Review of Anthropology 29 (1): 243–85. . *Kulick, Don. 2008. "Gender Politics." Men and Masculinities 11 (2): 186–92. . *Kulick, Don. 1997. "The Gender of Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes." American Anthropologist 99 (3): 574–85. *Livia, Anna, and Kira Hall. 1997. Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender, and Sexuality. Oxford University Press. *Manalansan, Martin F. IV. Performing' the Filipino Gay Experiences in America: Linguistic Strategies in a Transnational Context." Beyond the Lavender Lexicon: Authenticity, Imagination and Appropriation in Lesbian and Gay Language. Ed. William L Leap. New York: Gordon and Breach, 1997. 249–266 *Norma Mendoza-Denton, Mendoza-Denton, Norma. 2014. Homegirls: Language and Cultural Practice Among Latina Youth Gangs. John Wiley & Sons. *Rampton, Ben. 1995. Crossing: Language and Ethnicity Among Adolescents. Longman. *Zimman, Lal, Jenny L. Davis, and Joshua Raclaw. 2014. Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality. Oxford University Press.


Ethnopoetics is a method of recording text versions of oral poetry or narrative performances (i.e. verbal lore) that uses poetic lines, verses, and stanzas (instead of prose paragraphs) to capture the formal, poetic performance elements which would otherwise be lost in the written texts. The goal of any ethnopoetic text is to show how the techniques of unique oral performers enhance the aesthetic value of their performances within their specific cultural contexts. Major contributors to ethnopoetic theory include Jerome Rothenberg, Dennis Tedlock, and Dell Hymes. Ethnopoetics is considered a subfield of ethnology, anthropology, folkloristics, stylistics, linguistics, and literature and translation studies.

Endangered languages: Language documentation and revitalization

Endangered languages are languages that are not being passed down to children as their mother tongue or that have declining numbers of speakers for a variety of reasons. Therefore, after a couple generations these languages may no longer be spoken. Anthropologists have been involved with endangered language communities through their involvement in language documentation and revitalization projects. In a language documentation project, researchers work to develop records of the language - these records could be field notes and audio or video recordings. To follow best practices of documentation, these records should be clearly annotated and kept safe within an archive of some kind. Franz Boas was one of the first anthropologists involved in language documentation within North America and he supported the development of three key materials: 1) grammars, 2) texts, and 3) dictionaries. This is now known as the Boasian Trilogy. Language revitalization is the practice of bringing a language back into common use. The revitalization efforts can take the form of teaching the language to new speakers or encouraging the continued use within the community. One example of a language revitalization project is the Lenape language course taught at Swathmore College, Pennsylvania. The course aims to educate indigenous and non-indigenous students about the Lenape language and culture. Language reclamation, as a subset of revitalization, implies that a language has been taken away from a community and addresses their concern in taking back the agency to revitalize their language on their own terms. Language reclamation addresses the power dynamics associated with language loss. Encouraging those who already know the language to use it, increasing the domains of usage, and increasing the overall prestige of the language are all components of reclamation. One example of this is the Miami language being brought back from 'extinct' status through extensive archives. While the field of linguistics has also been focused on the study of the linguistic structures of endangered languages, anthropologists also contribute to this field through their emphasize on Ethnography, ethnographic understandings of the socio-historical context of language endangerment, but also of language revitalization and reclamation projects.

See also

* Ethnolinguistics * Evolutionary psychology of language * Identity (social science) * Ideology * Language contact * Linguistic insecurity * List of important publications in anthropology * Miyako Inoue (linguistic anthropologist), Miyako Inoue * Semiotic anthropology * Sociocultural linguistics * Sociolinguistics * Sociology of language * World Oral Literature Project * Feral child


Further reading

* Ahearn, Laura M. 2011. ''Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology''. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. * Blount, Ben G. ed. 1995. ''Language, Culture, and Society: A Book of Readings''. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland. * Bonvillain, Nancy. 1993. ''Language, culture, and communication: The meaning of messages''. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. * Brenneis, Donald; and Ronald K. S. Macaulay. 1996. ''The matrix of language: Contemporary linguistic anthropology''. Boulder: Westview. * Duranti, Alessandro. 1997. ''Linguistic Anthropology''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Duranti, Alessandro. ed. 2001. ''Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader''. Malden, MA: Blackwell. * Giglioli, Pier Paolo. 1972. ''Language and social context: Selected readings''. Middlesex: Penguin Books. * Salzmann, Zdenek, James Stanlaw and Nobuko Adachi. 2012. ''Language, culture, & society''. Westview Press.

External links

Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Downloadable publications of authors cited in the article
Joel Kuipers' publicationsBambi Schieffelin's publications
The Jurgen Trabant Wilhelm von Humboldt Lectures (7hrs) * {{Authority control Anthropology Applied linguistics