LIN/SOAU412: Language and Culture
Northeastern University, Fall 2007

Description    Requirements    Schedule

Instructor

H. Littlefield, Ph.D.
E-Mail: h.littlefield@neu.edu
Phone: (617) 373-4553
Office: 563 Holmes Hall
Office hours: Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:00-9:40 am; Tuesdays, 11:40 am - 3:00 pm
If these times are not convenient, please contact me to set up an appointment

Class Meetings
Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:50 - 11:30 am, 310 Behrakis

Website
http://www.atsweb.neu.edu/hlittlefield/LangCult.html
The class website is an excellent reference for course materials, including the syllabus, worksheets from class, assignments, and readings not found in the textbook.

Required Text
Bonvillain, Nancy. (2003) Language, Culture, and Communication: The Meaning of Messages. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Shopen, Timothy. (1990) Languages and Their Speakers. Cambridge: Winthrop Publishers.
Readings marked with an arrow ( —>) on the syllabus are not in the textbook; these will be available on the course website.


Course description

This course will explore the complex, often inexplicit relationship between language and culture. We will investigate a variety of topics which are drawn from the fields of anthropological linguistics and sociolinguistics. The course will begin with a general overview of what constitutes language. We will then turn to examine the different proposed hypotheses which attempt to account for the nature of the relationship between language and culture. The remainder of the course will cover a variety of topics which explore language in its social context. Questions that we will address will include the following: How is language used to create and maintain social institutions and rituals? How do we use language to create different personae? How is language used by people of different genders, ethnicities, and social classes? How are social and linguistic roles acquired by children?


Course Requirements



Course Schedule
September 7 Introduction


September 11, 14 What is language?
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 2: The Form of the Message


September 18, 21 Language, con’t.
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 2: The Form of the Message
In Shopen, Craig: Jacaltec: Field Work in Guatemala, focus on pages 3-29, 39-56
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 2, Jacaltec


September 25, 28 Language and Culture
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 3: Language and Cultural Meaning
In Shopen, Bird & Shopen: Maninka
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 3, Maninka, focus on pages 59-61, 88-106
Assignment 1: Language (100 points)


October 2, 5 Ethnography of Communication
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 4: Contextual Components
In Shopen, Keenan & Ochs: Becoming a Competent Speaker of Malagasy, focus on pages 113-117, 138-157
—>Fasold: The Ethnography of Communication
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 4, Malagasy
Assignment 2: Language and Culture: Links (100 points)


October 9, 12 Discourse Analysis
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 5: Communicative Interactions
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 5
Ethnography of Communication Proposal (20 points)


October 16, 19 Discourse Analysis; Language Variation: Social Class and Race
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 6: Societal Segmentation and Linguistic Variation
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 6


October 23, 26 Language Variation: Social Class and Race
Readings: In Shopen, Inoue: Japanese: A Story of Language and People, 241-255, 278-299
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Japanese
Assignment 3: Ethnography of Communication (150points)


October 30, Nov. 2 Language and Gender (English-speaking cultures)
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 7: Language and Gender: English
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 7
Assignment 4: Discourse Analysis & Language Variation (100 points)


November 6, 9 Language and Gender (other cultures)
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 8: Cross-cultural Studies of Language and Gender
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapter 8, Jacaltec
Research Project Proposal (20 points)


November 13, 16 Multilingualism
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 11: Multilingual Nations
Bonvillain: Chapter 12: Bilingual Communities
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapters 11 and 12
Assignment 5: Language and Gender (100 points)


November 20 Acquisition of Language and Communicative Competence
Readings: Bonvillain: Chapter 9: Language Learning
Bonvillain: Chapter 10: Acquisition of Communicative Competence
Turn in: Chapter Questions due Tuesday: Chapters 9 and 10


November 23 No Class: Thanksgiving Break


Nov. 27, 30 Acquisition of Language and Communicative Competence; Presentation of Final Projects
Turn in: Research Project Presentations (20 points)


December 4 Presentation of Final Projects
Turn in: Research Project Presentations (20 points)
Research Project (150 points: Due at 9:50am; no late papers accepted)