Linguistic Anthropology

Linguistic Anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of the role of languages in the social lives of individuals and communities. A closely related field of study is anthropological linguistics, which investigates the relationship between language and culture.

Observations From Experts

  • "[L]inguistic anthropology as practiced today . . . is the understanding of the crucial role played by language (and other semiotic resources) in the constitution of society and its cultural representations. To pursue this goal, linguistic anthropologists have ventured into the study of everyday encounters, language socialization, ritual and political events, scientific discourse, verbal art, language contact and language shift, literacy events, and media."
    (Alessandro Duranti, ed. Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader. Wiley, 2001)
  • "Unlike linguists, [linguistic] anthropologists have never considered language in isolation from social life but have insisted on its interdependence with cultural and social structures. In this sense, their technical linguistic analyses are means to an end, data from which it is possible to make inferences about larger anthropological issues. Hence, under the . . . label 'language and culture,' anthropologists study topics such as the relations between world views, grammatical categories and semantic fields, the influence of speech on socialization and personal relationships, and the interaction of linguistic and social communities. . . . [T]he relation between languages and social groups cannot be taken for granted, but is a problem which must be ethnographically investigated."
    (Pier Paolo Giglioli, ed. Language and Social Context. Penguin, 1972)

Also Known As: anthropological linguistics

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Linguistic Anthropology." ThoughtCo, Apr. 19, 2017, Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 19). Linguistic Anthropology. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Linguistic Anthropology." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 20, 2018).