About the Module
This module explores the deep interconnections between language, cognition and culture. It begins with a consideration of the ‘discursive mind’ - that is, the particularly human way of knowing that uses language as its primary tool and medium. Realizing how much of human cognition is language-dependent, we then explore the relations between language, cognition and culture by looking at such everyday linguistic phenomena as code-switching, metaphor and gesture. Augmenting the reading of sociolinguistic and cognitive science texts in this module, students will also learn how to collect and to analyze empirical evidence of language phenomena in order to more critically assess the claims of such texts.
WEEK BY WEEK
|1||INTRODUCTION/SYLLABUS||DEFINING LANGUAGE, CULTURE, AND MIND
EAGLETON (2000), HALLIDAY (2003), MERCER (2000)
BAUER AND TRUDGILL (1998: EXCERPTS)
|NONSTANDARD LANGUAGE VARIETIES
GAL (1987), STROUD (1998)
|SIMULTANEITY IN CODESWITCHING
|4||ACCENTS, ALTERITY, AND CROSSING
RAMPTON (1998), LO (1999)
|5||CODESWITCHING PROJECTS||GESTURE - INTRO
KENDON (1997, 1995) OR KENDON (2004)
|6||GESTURE- COGNITIVE DIMENSIONS
MCNEILL (1995), LEVINSON (2003)
|7||GESTURES OF SINGAPORE CATALOG PROJECT||GESTURES OF SINGAPORE CATALOG PROJECT|
|8||LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY: CHAMPIONS
WHORF (1967), DEUTSCHER (2010)
|LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY: CHALLENGERS
CAMERON (2003), PINKER (1994)
|9||NEO-WHORFIAN RELATIVITY: GRAMMAR
|NEO-WHORFIAN RELATIVITY: SPACE
LEVINSON (1996); TALMY (1983)
LAKOFF AND JOHNSON (1980)
|COGNITIVE METAPHOR + RELATIVITY
NISBETT (2003); BORODITSKY (2001)
|12||LANGUAGE, BRAIN, AND BODY
|RELATIVITY PROJECTS (METAPHOR, SOUND, SPACE AND/OR TIME)|
|13||RELATIVITY PROJECTS (METAPHOR, SOUND, SPACE AND/OR TIME)|
Bauer, Laurie, and Peter Trudgill. (1998). Language Myths. NY: Penguin.
Boroditsky, Lera. (2001) Does Language Shape Thought?: Mandarin and English Speakers’ Conceptions of Time Cognitive Psychology 43, pg. 1–22
Cameron, Deborah. (2003). Linguistic Relativity: Benjamin Lee Whorf and the Return of the Repressed Critical Quarterly 41(2): 153-156
Deutscher, Guy. (2010). Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. New York: Metropolitan Books (Ch. 6: Crying Whorf)
Duranti, Alessandro. (1997). Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Eagleton, T. (2000). The Idea of Culture. Oxford: Blackwell
Gibbs, Raymond W. Jr. (2003). Embodied experience and linguistic meaning Brain and Language 84(1) pg. 1–15
Halliday, M.A.K. (2003) 'Ideas about language' in: On Language and Linguistics. London: Continuum. (excerpt)
Haviland, John. (1993). Anchoring, Iconicity, and Orientation in Guugu Yimithirr Pointing Gestures. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 3(1) pg. 3-45
Kendon, Adam. (1995). Gestures as Illocutionary and Discourse Structure Marker in Southern Italian Conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 23, pg. 247-279
Kendon, Adam. (1997). Gesture. Annual Review of Anthropology 26 pg. 109-128
Kendon, Adam. (2004). Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 6: Classifying Gestures)
Kövecses, Zoltán. (2000). Metaphor and Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. (1980). Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language. The Journal of Philosophy 77(8), pg. 453-486
Levinson, Stephen. (1996). Frames of Reference and Molyneux's Question: Crosslinguistic Evidence in: Paul Bloom et al, ed.s Language and Space MIT Press pg. 109-169
Lo, Adrienne. (1999). Codeswitching, Speech Community Membership, and the Construction of Ethnic Identity. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3(4), 461-479.
McNeill, David. (1995). Hand and mind : what gestures reveal about thought Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Mercer, N. (2000). Words & Minds: How We Use Language to Think Together. London: Routledge. (Chapter 1: 'Language as a tool for thinking')
Nisbett, Richard E. (2003). The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why New York: Free Press (Chapter 6: Is the World Made Up of Nouns and Verbs?)
Pinker, Steven. (1994). The Language Instinct. New York: Penguin. (Ch.3 ‘Mentalese’, plus excerpts from Ch. 2 ‘Chatterboxes’ and Ch. 13 ‘Mind Design’)
Rampton, Ben. (1998). Language crossing and the redefinition of reality. in: Auer, P (ed.): Code-switching in conversation. London: Routledge. 290-320.
Slobin, Dan. (1996). From 'Thought and Language' to 'Thinking for Speaking.' In J. J. Gumperz & S. C. Levinson (Eds.), Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stroud, Christopher. (1998). Perspectives on cultural variability of discourse and some implications for code-switching. in: Auer, P (ed.): Code-switching in conversation. London: Routledge. 321-348
Talmy, Leonard. (1983). How Language Structures Space. In: Spatial Orientation: Theory, Research, and Application. H. Pick and L. Acredolo, eds. New York: Plenum Press Pp. 225-282.
Trudgill, Peter. (1999). ‘Standard English: What it isn’t.’ in: Tony Bex & Richard J. Watts eds. Standard English: the widening debate. London: Routledge. pg. 117-128.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee. (1967). Language, Thought, and Reality. Cambridge: MIT Press. (excerpts)
Woolard, Kathryn. A. (1998). Simultaneity and Bivalency as Strategies in Bilingualism. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 8(1), pg. 3-29.
Project 1: Code-switching20%
|Project 2: Gesture||30%|
|Project 3: Metaphor||30%|
Each of the projects listed below will give students practice in the sociolinguistic and/or anthropological methods of collecting naturally occurring data that captures on videotape actual instances of social practice – data which can then be analysed under a variety of sociological and cognitive science frameworks introduced in the module as a way of critically examining those frameworks.
Students will receive instruction on how to profitably and ethically collect such data during the first few weeks of the semester, and the data that they have collected by Week 4 will form the corpus that they will draw upon for their analyses in all three projects. This instruction will include:
- Background reading in the phenomenon under examination (ie, social actors’ uses of code-switching, gesture, and metaphor in their everyday talk)
- Obtaining research permissions to collect such data
- Ethical and effective methods of videotaping natural interaction
- Data transcription using specialized transcription software and conventions
- Data analysis as a critical examination of theories presented
- Write-up of procedure, methods, lit review, findings and analysis
Project 2: Gesture
The aim of the project is to generate a descriptive and analytical catalog of sociolinguistic gestures in Singaporean culture. Students will identify gestures in natural interaction, and analyze them in terms of the theories of gesture covered in class, as well as in terms of a variety of relevant sociolinguistic categories, including gender, ethno-linguistic affiliation, age, context, etc. Each student will contribute five gestures to the catalog, and which will be made into an online sociolinguistic resource for the NUS community. Write-ups will be approximately 1000 words (200 words per entry), not including transcript.
Project 3: Conceptual Metaphor and Cultural Relativity
Students will design a metric or experiment to test some dimension of cross-linguistic relativity, based on metaphor, sound, emotion, space and/or time. The write-up will describe in detail how the experiment will work, what exactly is being tested, describe how the procedure will test what is being targeted, what the predicted outcomes will be and why, and what will be learned from the experiment by anticipating possible successful and unsuccessful outcomes. If possible, we will pilot these experiments using the class as a target group. Write-up will be approximately 1000-1200 words.
Students will write academic-level précis of three articles, one from each unit of the course, not to exceed 150 words each.
Every student’s work is graded individually.
A/P Peter Vail
National University of Singapore
University Scholars Programme
Cinnamon South Learn Lobe #02-03
18 College Avenue East
I trained as a cultural anthropologist (cornell u) and as a sociolinguist (georgetown u), which, added together, I suppose makes me a linguistic anthropologist. I work mostly in mainland southeast asia - thailand, laos, cambodia - and am currently interested in discourse studies, language shift, and cultural revitalization along the thai-cambodian border, and am renewing my interest in the study of muay thai as a cultural phenomenon.