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Linguistic Anthropology

Linguistic anthropologists study the dynamic relationships among speakers, language, culture, and society. This subfield explores the many ways in which communicative practices shape patterns of social interaction, categories of identity and group membership, cultural beliefs and ideologies, and the cultural resources to engage natural and social worlds.

Some areas of focus:

Language socialization: The study of how a speaker learns a language while simultaneously learning to become competent members of a cultural community.

Language contact: The study of the historical, political, and sociocultural dynamics of two or more languages in contact.

Language ideology: The study of the socially constructed, "commonsense" notions about languages, their speakers, and communicative norms.

Some key questions:

What are the dynamic relationships among language, culture, and society?

How do children and other novices develop the fluency to use languages in socially intelligible and culturally appropriate ways?

What does it mean when we lose the last speaker of a language, and what factors lead to these situations?















Department of Anthropology | Gladfelter Hall, second floor | 1115 West Berks Street | Philadelphia, PA 19122
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