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Liz Crocker, Ph.D. @liminalphase
, 8 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
There is some awful pseudo-science about linguistics going around the internet right now. So let's have a little linguistic anthropology 101 thread. I'll start us off but I hope #anthropology twitter will add to this. I'd love to see a good discussion about linguistic anthro!
1. Language actively DOES things in the world. A swing of the bat is either a strike or a ball based not upon what happens (as any fan can tell you) but how the ump calls it. A spoken agreement binds people into sets of obligations. Saying "I love you" changes relationships.
2. WHO is speaking matters Every fan in a stadium can be shouting "out" but only the ump's words decide the outcome. Two people saying "I do" aren't married unless they are adults in front of an officiant. A word denoting insider status can be deeply offensive said by an outsider
3. This means language is CONTEXTUAL. Who, what, where, how & when matter. We also CODE SWITCH because the way you speak to your mamma differs from how you talk to your boss and from how you speak to friends. We adjust for audiences and those contexts adjust meanings.
4. HOW we speak (tone, body language, & emphasis) matters. Depending on which word you emphasize this sentence has a totally different meaning: "I never said she'd date you". Add in a wink or an eye roll and you complicate it even further.
5. Language is SYMBOLIC and SHARED, but it is also in constant FLUX. Language is never a static convention & it never means exactly the same thing every time everywhere. You need context to correctly interpret. And be aware that it changes - your hs slang is now #fellowkids
6. Language has POWER & works within SYSTEMS. Our laws are built with language & guilt proclaimed with it. Words call ppl to action, epiphanies, & even hate. Slurs & silencing deny access to power & knowledge, much of which is determined by the ability to make your voice heard.
7. In short, a fundamental 101 point of linguistics is that language has power, it matters, and who says it matters. Even Plato knew this, which was why he wanted to censor poets - he thought language forces you to step into other's shoes potentially changing who you are!
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