Language and Culture Assignment

During the 20th century, two theoretical standpoints were influential in the study of the relationship between language and culture. The first of them, Linguistic Determinism was formulated by the linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf in the model called the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. It contends that people’s language affects the way they think. Hence, language shapes culture.

A second model for understanding the relationship between language and culture is proposed by linguistic anthropologists working in the area of sociolinguistics. This model maintains that a person’s context and social position shape the content, form, and meaning of her/his language. Hence, culture shapes language. Contemporary sociolinguists are active in an emerging area called Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) that focuses on the relations of language and social inequality, power and stigma, and agency and resistance.

How do you evaluate the two theoretical perspectives succinctly described above? Your response should address the following areas:

    • 1. What are the main ethnographic evidence given by Sapir and Whorf to support their thesis? Be specific.
    • Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) – Relations of Language and Social Inequality, Power and Stigma, and Agency and Resistance

    • 2. What is the evidence you can glean from the materials given in the module (original online reading) in support of the sociolinguistics theoretical perspective? Once again, be specific.
  • a little backround on cda…
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