Department of Anthropology

Language, Meaning and Society: Volume 1, 2007

Terra Edwards, Editor-in-Chief
Chiho Sunkawa, Editor-in-Chief
Nathan Rostron, Associate Editor


Introduction (PDF, 85K)
Elizabeth Keating

Reported Speech, Codeswitching, and Speech Genre as Integrated Phenomena in Ecuadorian Quichua (PDF, 436K)
Simeon Floyd

This paper traces the relationships among bilingual speech, speech-reporting practices, and the performative organization of speech genres in Ecuadorian Quichua, as manifested in discursive interaction. Since languages are systems in which every part may interact with another part, a study of networks of relationships among different aspects of a language is a good way to analyze about larger, integrated phenomena and to take into account their dynamic nature. For this analysis, the paper uses an ethnographically-informed description of connections among different speech events, situations, and styles, based on several years of fieldwork in different Quichua-speaking regions of Ecuador.

On Ethnographic Responsibility: A Discourse-Centered Approach (PDF, 314K)
Maria Luz García

Analysts of social behavior, particularly with regards to Latin America, have expended much academic energy in considering how to understand the stories told by the people with whom they work.  Much of this effort has had the purpose of finding an academic frame of analysis for these narratives by reclassifying them according to academic discipline or by genre (placing them within the domain of literature, of anthropology, of history etc.; considering them to be testimonios, autobiographies, oral histories etc.).What I would like to offer here are some approaches to analysis of these stories that have arisen out of my work with Ixil Mayan community-based organizations and their leaders. 

Discoursal & Generic Features of U.S. Army Obituaries: A mini-corpus analysis of contemporary military death announcements (PDF, 337K)
Lance Askildson

A mini-corpus of U.S. Department of Defense death announcements was compiled and analyzed via a mixed methodology of functional discourse analysis and formal genre move analysis.  This analytical framework was designed to investigate the dual roles of the impact of language on social perception and authorial power in the co-construction of meaning.  The results of these methodological treatments indicated systematic distancing and dehumanization of U.S. soldier deaths that were consistent with both formal and contextual indicators of function for American public consumption.  Results further indicated a coordination of covert semiotic implication in text with overt linguistic markers of support for and affiliation with this same function.  The implications of covert language function for social perception and authorial power are discussed both within and beyond the context of the current corpus materials.  Finally, the value of form-function, mixed-method approaches to textual discourse analysis is discussed within the context of the present findings.

Repetition in Apachean Narrative Discourse: From Discourse Structure to Language Learning in Morphologically Complex Languages (PDF, 284K)
Melissa Axelrod and Jule Gómez de García

Examination of narrative discourse from Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, and Plains Apache shows that repetition is particularly frequent in these languages.  We find both repeated instances of stems with varying prefix strings and the repetition of particular prefix sequences with different stems.  This frequent repetition functions as a way of allowing both fluent production and ready comprehension of new information.  Repetition serves as a cohesive device as well as a means of emphasizing links between speaker and hearer understanding.  The adult discourse pattern also serves to support the learning process of younger members of the speech community.  What serves as a memory device and a marker of topic continuity and discourse cohesion in the adult language serves as a bootstrapping device in first- and second-language learning.