LIN 4930-5283


Spring 2004

T 4 R 4-5, And 19

Dr. M. J. Hardman

Office hours:

The central questions we address are: Do we, as human beings perceive reality directly? To what degree does language put for us a filter between ourselves and reality? Is it possible to perceive without the filter of language?

The course consists of the following topics. These are:

How the English language influences and guides the interaction between women and men and how this influences science.

As an extended look at another language and culture as a counter example we will look at the Aymara of South America.

We will read some additional sources for other examples and theoretical perspectives, mostly Japanese and Native [First Nation] North American. This last will include one of the earliest and most original thinkers in the field, Dorothy Lee.

Written assignments are due on Tuesdays. Reading assignments are due on Thursdays. You will have some reading to do for the assignments on Tuesday. Reading assignments for Thursday run parallel in various books at the same time. All of the materials you are using are primary sources. Reading books in parallel fashion allows for better integration of all of the course material.

Textbooks (available at Wild Iris Books: at the corner of University and 8th St.)

Elgin, Suzette Haden Language Imperative Perseus Books, Cambridge, MA 2000

Silver, Shirley & Wick R. Miller American Indian Languages U. of Arizona 1997

Hardman, M. J. Aymara Language in its Social and Cultural Context  (Andean Press)

Lee, Dorothy Freedom and Culture Prentice-Hall 1959, reissued 1987 by Waveland Press

Mizutani, Osamu Japanese: The Spoken Language in Japanese Life

Russ, Joanna. (1983) How to Suppress Women's Writing. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Suzuki, Takao  (1978) Words in Context. Akira Miura: Kodansha International

Zack, Naomi, ed. (1995) American Mixed Race.  Roman & Littlefield

Further resources (including the Derivational Thinking packet) are available online at:

- Link to Sojourner Truthís "Ainít I a Woman" speech:





You will, each week, make a directed observation of the language behavior around you so that you will become more aware of the ways in which language impacts our daily behavior.

Two abstracts of articles, chapters or stories, to be shared with class mates; each abstract one page; one class presentation.


Three short papers, each of 5Ī pages. 

First paper: Language ecology paper. Choose a language that interests you and write a paper answering the in the Language Ecology questions below.


Sample Language Ecology Papers



First, answer the question: Why does this language (& the culture of its speakers) interest me?

For this language we should want to have answers to the following ecological questions:

1.What is its classification in relation to other languages? This answer would be given by historical and descriptive linguists.

2.What are the grammatical categories of the language? This answer would be given by structural, descriptive linguists.

3.Who are its users? This is a question of linguistic demography, locating its users with respect to locale, class, religion, or any other relevant grouping.

4.What are its domains of use? This is a question of sociolinguistics, discovering whether its use is unrestricted or limited in specific ways.

5.What concurrent languages are employed by its users? We may call this a problem of dialinguistics, to identify the degree of bilingualism present and the degree of overlap among the languages.

6.What internal varieties does the language show? This is the task of a dialectology that will recognize not only regional, but also social and contactual dialects.

7.What is the nature of its written traditions? This is the province of philology, the study of written texts and their relation to speech.

8.To what degree has its written form been standardized, i.e., unified and codified? This is the province of prescriptive linguistics, the traditional grammarians and lexicographers.

9.What kind of institutional support has it won, either in government, education, or private organizations, either to regulate its form or propagate it? We may call this study glottopolitics.

10.What are the attitudes of its users towards the language, in terms of intimacy and status, leading to personal identification? We may call this the field of ethnolinguistics.

11.Finally sum up the language status in a typology of ecological classification, which will tell us something about where the language stands and where it is going in comparison with the other languages of the world.

12.When you have answered the above questions, answer the following: Was my interest based on stereotypes/prejudices of my own culture? or on a wish to understand the language in its own right?

Adapted from Haugen,Einar. The ecology of language, The Linguistic Reporter,1971, 13(1), pp. 19-26.

Second paper: Try to imagine yourself a native speaker of a language not your own, one of the languages we have been looking at here perhaps. How do you imagine you would be different?  (Some sample papers will be made available.)

            Third paper: any topic you wish relevant to the course material, subject to approval.

You will also listen to/watch relevant media presentations in the language laboratory in Turlington Hall.

Generic week


Observations, media, writings due



Derivational Thinking Packet:

Cover Page

The Sexist Circuits of English

Gender Through the Levels

Derivational Thinking, or, Why is Equality So Difficult

And if We Lose Our Name, then What About Our Land?

Andean Ethnography


Sample Lack of Models papers


Language and Culture exam review


 Fall 1998 Syllabus


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