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Animacy influences the grammar of languages in different ways, although it often goes unnoticed. Did you know that in English there is a strong tendency towards using the Saxon genitive ’s with humans instead of the preposition of? Have you ever hear that some Chinantecan languages encode the animate/inanimate distinction in almost every word, and that in Hatam only human nouns distinguish plural number? This book offers for the first time a comprehensive cross-linguistic study of its effects on morphological systems. How do real data fit the theorethical definition of animacy? Do we observe different types of animacy? Which techniques are employed to encode it? Which categories and features are affected, and how? Data from more than 300 languages provide answers to these (and other) questions.
Author: Joan Casser
This annotated commentary of Pêcheux’s materialist theory of discourse anticipates the formation of a real social science which supersedes the metaphysical meanings of the empirical ideologies ‘always-already-there’. Structures of Language presents Pêcheux’s theory in reference to Ferdinand de Saussure’s epistemological breakthrough that founded the science of linguistics: the theoretical separation of sound from meaning. Noam Chomsky’s generative grammar, John Searle’s philosophy of language, B.F. Skinner’s indwelling agents, J.L. Austin’s speech situations, Lacan’s symbolic order, and the influential theories of other linguistic researchers, are cited to explain the functioning of semantic ideology.
What is the relationship between spatial and temporal representations in language and cognition? What is the role of culture in this relationship? I enter this discussion by offering a community-based, cross-generational study on the community of speakers of aṣ-Ṣāniʿ Arabic, members of a Negev Desert Bedouin tribe in Israel. The book presents the results of ten years of fieldwork, the linguistic and cognitive profiles of three generations, and first-hand narration of a century of history, from nomadism to sedentarism, between conservation, resilience, and change. Linguistic and cognitive representations change with lifestyle, culture, and relationships with nature and landscape. Language changes more rapidly than cognitive structures, and the relationship between spatial and temporal representations is complex and multifaceted.
Editor: Thomas Fuyin LI
Distinguished Lectures in Cognitive Linguistics publishes the keynote lectures series given by prominent international scholars at the China International Forum on Cognitive Linguistics since 2004. Each volume contains the transcripts of 10 lectures under one theme given by an acknowledged expert on a subject, and readers have access to the audio recordings of the lectures through links in the e-book and QR-codes in the printed volume. This series provides a unique course on the broad subject of Cognitive Linguistics. Speakers include George Lakoff, Ronald Langacker, Leonard Talmy, Laura Janda, Dirk Geeraerts, Ewa Dąbrowska and many others.
Volume Editors: Anne Storch and R.M.W. Dixon
This book contributes to opening up disciplinary knowledge and offering connections between different approaches to language in contemporary linguistics. Rather than focusing on a particular single methodology or theoretical assumption, the volume presents part of the wealth of linguistic knowledge as an intertwined project, which combines numerous practices, positionalities and perspectives. The editors believe¸ together with the contributors to this volume¸ that it is a crucial and timely task to emphasize the relevance of linguistic knowledge on power, hospitality, social class, marginalization, mobility, history, secrecy, the structures of discourse, and the construction of meaning, as knowledge that needs to be brought together – as it is brought together in personal discussions, conversations and encounters. To work along traces of linguistic connectivity, marginalized narratives, in and on lesser studied (often stigmatized) language practices and to shed light on the tasks of linguistics in making diverse knowledges transparent—this offers spaces for critical discussion on the ethics of linguistics, its challenges, contributions and tasks. These are the approaches that are characteristic for the work of Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, to whom this book is dedicated.

Abstract

This chapter offers a recollection of many years of experience in participating in linguistic fieldwork. It describes the relations built by different participants and the reciprocity in which the author and the linguist engaged. Furthermore, it provides an insight into how the author as a host conceived practices of immersion fieldwork.

In: The Art of Language

Abstract

In Murui, a Witotoan language spoken in the northwestern parts of the Amazon, komekɨ is simply translated as ‘heart’. But is this its real meaning? It turns out that the word ‘heart’ in Murui can be understood in two ways: one physical heart, namely an organ of a particular shape, and the other conceptual heart, relating to the realm of an individuum, their essence. This distinction is brought about by the two meanings of the classifier -k i. The physical ‘heart’ is round like a fruit, while the conceptual ‘heart’ is one’s mind or thought, and it is the place where human emotions and feelings reside. In addition, this twofold distinction is reflected in the language where the latter instance of ‘heart’ is grammatically beached.

In: The Art of Language

Abstract

InField/CoLang is an international, biennial summer institute held in North America that brings together linguists and community language activists to (1) share and develop their skills, (2) promote best practices in community-based linguistic research and language revitalization, and (3) form networks among scholars and practitioners engaged in language documentation and revitalization. Originally started at UC Santa Barbara in 2008, this institute was designed to promote collaboration and foster understanding between linguists and Indigenous groups. It begins with two weeks of team-taught workshops on a wide range of topics. This is followed by a three- or four-week practicum where the skills are applied in an intensive, collaborative research project on a single language, an interesting modification of a traditional field-methods course. This chapter examines the evolution of this institute and the impact that it has had on individuals, on communities, and on the changing relationship between the academy and Indigenous groups in North America.

In: The Art of Language

Abstract

The chapter contributes to the discussion of how linguists can lead communities to adapt successful strategies for maintaining languages. Contact-induced code copying can keep copying varieties strong and thereby contribute to their retention. The framework is the Code-Copying Model. Take-Over copying is in effect when speakers of a primary code (L1) take over copies from a secondary code (L2). Carry-Over copying occurs when speakers of a primary code (L1) carry over copies from this code into their own variety of a secondary code (L2). Both types can strengthen the copying varieties and thereby be felicitous for their maintenance. Copying makes the varieties more viable, e.g. via shared lexical items, shared typological patterns, simplification of grammatical systems. No language has become extinct because of intensive copying. The linguist’s responsibility to document and reconstruct a diachronically and typologically coherent body of data may threaten languages when it gets reflected in the communities efforts to purify their language and make a pre-contact state of the language the target of maintenance or revitalization. Such efforts often reduce the chances for language retention. Strong high-copying varieties and weak purified varieties will illustrate this. The motivation to copy is to accommodate the variety to the communicative needs of the speakers. High-copying varieties can be instrumental in the maintenance of less-copying varieties. In language revitalization, the acquisition of a high-copying variety is easier than the acquisition of a purified variety.

In: The Art of Language
Author: Maarten Mous

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of blessings and curses in verbal art and in daily life among the Iraqw (Cushitic) of Tanzania. I approach the topic from the speech act and its context. Blessings and curses are taken as speech acts that are intended to directly affect the intended person (and associates) through evoking the power of God. After analysis of linguistic properties and contexts I look into conventionalisations and more casual blessings and curses and culturally required automatic responses. Blessings and curses are common in the verbal art and these seem to be formally different from how traditionally in daily life people would intentionally bless and curse. The fiiro traditional prayer (literally requesting) is interspersed with blessings/curses or strong wishes which are clearly set apart by a high speed of speech, high pitch and loud voice for a whole sentence upon which the audience waves their hands in the air or towards the ground. The slufay poetry which follows the fiiro can be seen as one long blessing, using subordinate verb forms and other archaic elements but not containing these formally marked utterances of the fiiro. In tales curses occur that are spoken by participants containing imperative sentences like ‘let the milk that you have just drunk kill you’. Alagwa (a related Cushitic language of the area) tales typically end in a formula that looks very similar, ‘yours hyenas, ours cattle’. In daily life cursing is done sometimes standing on a hillock wishing bad fortune on ones opponent but neither the actual words nor the way they are performed seem to be essential. Lifting the curse is a major event however. This can easily take up a whole day of discussing, singing, drinking and eating and the ceremony needs to be performed with the families of the two opponents and other people from the area present and with text emphasizing peace, good wishes and community spirit. The anthropological literature discusses the societal functions of curses. Blessing is often done by putting a piece of grass, barsi, above the door of the house between the cross bar above the door opening and the roof. This can but need not be accompanied with speech. In addition to the overview of the Iraqw curses and blesses, the chapter compares these and analyse these in relation to other East African traditions.

In: The Art of Language