Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Language as a cultural practice


I just finished reading Alessandro Duranti’s “Linguistic Anthropology”. He introduces the discipline as an interdisciplinary field which studies language as a cultural resource and speaking as a cultural practice. The theories and methods are introduced through a discussion of linguistic diversity, grammar in use, the role of speaking in social interaction. Especially interesting are the sections on fieldwork methodology and ethics.

I won’t elaborate on this book and the discipline here. The conclusion is: to truly understand other people we must open a dialogue with them. It is possible through the practice of speaking, analysis of discourse and assumptions based on interpretations to better understand the cultural baggage each one of us carries.
 Linguistic anthropology taps into human psychology and the social enterprise in many ways. Duranti explains linguistic anthropology’s rightful place as a science and a discipline worthy of perpetuation in posterity.

Alessandro Duranti is professor of anthropology and dean of Social Sciences at the University of Califonia in Los Angeles. He is an expert on language as a cultural practice, political discourse, verbal performance and jazz improvisation, human agency and intersubjectivity. He has carried out fieldwork in (Western) Samoa and the United States. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Author: Alessandro Duranti
Title: Liguistic Anthropology
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 1997
Pages: 420 (paperback)

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