Culture, Language, and Society

Culture, Language, and Society

Culture, Language, and Society

Culture, Language, and Society

Excerpt

The first edition of this book was published in 1971 as an Addison-Wesley Module in Anthropology. In this edition, I have added a section on pidgin and creole languages to Chapter 3 and a corresponding discussion in the last part of Chapter 6. In Chapter 4, also, I have added a consideration of the view of culture formulated by Clifford Geertz. Other changes are minor.

My purpose remains the same: to clarify for students the nature of the phenomenon we anthropologists call "culture." That phenomenon, whatever its other characteristics may be, has content and organization. The nature of that content, what is involved in describing it, and its relation to society, the individual, and language comprise a set of inter' related matters crucial to the interpretation of human behavior, of human differences and similarities, and of human history. What we mean by culture, moreover, has long been and continues to be a subject of lively debate.

That I should take language as my point of departure for dealing with culture results from my exposure to the behavioral and social sciences as an undergraduate student when I took courses in personality theory and in cultural anthropology concurrently. In the one course, we concentrated on the processes in social interaction by which each individual acquires and maintains his or her particular conception or sense of self. We talked about "roles" and "role playing," but aside from this we had no model for what a conception of self consists of -- no model of its content. We had no methods for describing any individual's conception of self, but characterized it in very general terms. In the anthropology . . .

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