Basics of a language

Dixon, R.M.W. (2014) Basics of a language. In: Enfield, N.J., Kockelman, Paul, and Sidnell, Jack, (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 29-47.

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Abstract

[Extract] Sometimes one hears anthropologists saying that linguistics is rather hard. Or that it is not relevant. Or else not important.

A lot of what goes under the name of linguistics (so-called "generative" and allied theories) is truly irrelevant. But the real cumulative science of linguistics is absolutely pertinent to any anthropological endeavor. It is not at all difficult, if explained in a straightforward manner (as I attempt to do in this chapter). In essence, an understanding of the basic principles of linguistics - and of how to apply them - is of inestimable benefit to any scholar investigating aspects of social organization.

Linguistics should not be regarded as an alien discipline. Viewed as the scientific study of the social phenomenon called language, linguistics is closely allied to anthropology. In days of yore, one would enroll for a degree in "the anthropological sciences," studying social anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics.

Social anthropology and linguistics have moved apart, to the detriment of both. A major aim of this volume is to encourage reunification. In this chapter, I will try to show why any decent linguist must invoke a fair dose of anthropology, and that, in order to achieve significant results, an anthropologist should harness the essentials of linguistics.

Item ID: 35999
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-107-03007-7
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2015 02:20
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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