Language & Culture

Course:ANT 3620
Language & Culture
GenEd: International (N)
Social and Behavioral (S)
Carmen Laguer-Diaz
Carmen Laguer-Diaz, PhD
Department of Anthropology
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

The purpose of this course is to provide a basic introduction to the study of linguistics from an anthropological perspective.

Students will learn how language functions differ across cultures and how anthropologists have interpreted topics ranging from the origins of humans to language phenomena in the present day. The class will be asked to think about how language is used in daily life: through linguistic expressions, linguistic structures and current social discourses. Students will be encouraged to think about the different ways that language is used in everyday life to express ourselves and how it enables, structures, and constrains our interactions.

In addition to the texts, the course depends on anthropological and personal experiences, as well as films and other audiovisual materials. Most importantly, the course is designed to encourage active student participation.

Course Structure

This course is divided into three units:

  1. The Nature of Language
    The first unit provides a foundation for the study of language and culture: the origins of language and the techniques used to analyze the basic building blocks of all human languages.
  2. Language as Social Action and Phenomenon
    The second unit examines the social implications of language in which we will focus on how society affects language and vice versa.
  3. Linguistic Variation
    The third unit of the course focuses on multilingualism; from the subtle differences in language across subcultures in a region (patterns according to gender, race, etc.), to broader implications of multilingualism (language policy, code switching, Spanglish, etc.).

What sort of topics will this class explore?

  • What is language? How does language compare to other animal forms of communication?
  • Non-spoken languages: sign language and whistled languages
  • Is the internet ruining our language? Spoiler alert: It is not!
  • Language in political ideologies: Do Democrats and Republicans say the same thing in the same way?
  • Hip Hop Nation Language: How does music and poetry affect dialects?
  • What is Spanglish? Seriously, what is it?

Meet the instructor & find out more about the course

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Current students

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