Linguistic issues and anthropology

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Sun, 11 Feb 1996 14:48:34 -0500

In message <> "Mr. E" writes:

> The anthropological point to this ... how does "contemporary linguistic
> issues" relate to anthropology directly? While it is obvious to me that we
> should be sensative and conduct ourselves in such a matter in our day-to-day
> interactions with our peers in civilized society; I do not clearly see where
> anthropology directly relates to this. Why it's an anthropologists
> responsibility to do so outside of being a human in itself. Any ideas?

Linguistics issues, contemporary and otherwise, relate to anthropology because
language is (to paraphrase Derek Bickerton: see his recent Language and Human
Behavior) the secondary representational system which allows humans to possess
culture (as opposed to chimp proto-culture). As such, language gives us
representations which can we can manipulate internally ("thinking") and which we
can also share with others ("communication"). Those representations include the
labels we use for ourselves and others. To ignore linguistic issues is to
ignore the thing that most defines us as Homo sapiens sapiens; in my opinion,
anthropology cannot afford to do that and still call itself "the science of

Ronald Kephart
Department of Language & Literature
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, FL 32224
ph: 904-646-2580