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Chapter 6: Languages. By: Alex B and Allison S. What are languages, and what role do languages play in cultures?. Language : is a set of sounds, combinations of sounds, and symbols that are used for communication Language binds cultural identity, often unifies people of a country

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Chapter 6: Languages

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Chapter 6: Languages

By: Alex B and Allison S


What are languages, and what role do languages play in cultures?

  • Language: is a set of sounds, combinations of sounds, and symbols that are used for communication

  • Language binds cultural identity, often unifies people of a country

  • Language reveals how people view their culture and cultures of other countries

  • Standard Language: is published, widely distributed and purposefully taught, sometimes decided by the govt.


  • Dialect: is variants of a standard language along with regional or ethnic lines

  • Isogloss: is a geographic boundary within which a particular linguistic feature occurs, but rarely a simple line

  • Mutual intelligibility: is when 2 people can understand each other when speaking

    • Cannot be measured

  • Dialect chains: are a set of contiguous dialects nearest to each other at any place in the chain are most closely related


Why are languages distributed the way they are?

  • Language families: are a group of languages with a shared but fairly distant origin

    • 20 different language families

  • Language subfamilies: are further divisions of Language families

  • Sound shift: is a slight change in a word across languages within subfamily or through a language family from the present

  • Backward reconstruction: is a tracking sound shifts and hardening of consonants “back” to the original language


  • Extinct Language: has no native speakers

  • Proto-Indo-European: linguistic hypothesis proposing the existence of an ancestral Indo-European language that is near the hearth of Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit

  • Nostratic: ancient ancestor of Proto-Indo-European only

Top ten languages, besides English, spoken in the United States


  • Renfrew Hypothesis: claims that’s from Anatolia diffused Europe’s Indo-European languages

    • From the western arc of the Fertile Crescent came the languages of North Africa and Arabia

    • From the Fertile Crescent eastern arc ancient languages spread into present-day Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, later to be replaced by Indo- European languages.

  • Dispersal hypothesis: claims that the Indo-European languages that arose from Proto-Indo-European …

    - First carried eastward into Southwest Asia, next around the Caspian Sea, and then across the Russian- Ukrainian plains and on into the Balkans.


    • European languages-

      • Romantic: coming from areas controlled by the Roman Empire (French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese)

      • Germanic: reflect expansion of people out of Northern Europe (English, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish)

      • Slavic: coming from when Slavic people migrated (Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Slovenian)

    • Sub-Saharan African languages-

      • Niger-Congo language family dominate

      • Oldest languages from Khoisan Language family

      • Nigeria has over 400 languages


    How do languages diffuse?

    • Lingua Franca:a “common language” used among speakers of different languages for the purposes of trade and commerce

      • Pidgin Language: when two or more languages are combined in a simplified structure and vocabulary

      • Creole Language: begins as a pidgin language but is later adopted as the mother tongue by a group.


    Multilingualism

    • Multilingual states: countries with more than one language spoken

      • Ex. United States and Canada

    • Monolingual states: countries in which only one language is spoken

      • Ex. Japan and Portugal


    Languages

    • Global Language: the language used most commonly around the world

      • Defined by the number of speakers

      • Defined by the prevalence of use in commerce and trade

    • Official Languages: the language selected to be used to promote internal cohesion

      • Usually the language of the courts and the government

      • Often chosen by the educated and politically powerful elite


    What role does language play in making places?

    • Toponyms- place names given to certain features on the land such as settlements, terrain features, and streams

      • Descriptive ex. Rocky Mountains

      • Associative ex. Mill Valley, California

      • Commemorative ex. San Fransisco

      • Commendatory ex. Paradise Valley, Arizona

      • Incidents ex. Battle Creek, Michigan

      • Possession ex. Johnson City, Texas

      • Folk Culture ex. Plains, Georgia

      • Manufactured ex. Truth, New Mexico

      • Mistakes ex. Lasker, North Carolina (Alaska)

      • Shift namesex. Lancaster, Pennsylvania (England)


    When people change the toponym of a place…

    - they have the power to “wipe out the past and call forth the new”

    - Toponyms are part of the cultural landscape

    - The changes in the place-name clarifies the cultural landscape

    -- Post-Colonial --Postrevolution -- Memorial


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