Language, Culture, and Society

An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology

James Stanlaw, Nobuko Adachi, and Zdenek Salzmann

Seventh Edition • July 25, 2017 • 500 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813350608 • $52.00 USD$67.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813350738 • $35.99 USD$45.99 CAN

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Available July 2017

Why should we study language? How do the ways in which we communicate define our identities? And how is this all changing in the digital world? Since 1993, many have turned to Language, Culture, and Society for answers to questions like those above because of its comprehensive coverage of all critical aspects of linguistic anthropology. This seventh edition carries on the legacy while addressing some of the newer pressing and exciting challenges of the 21st century, such as issues of language and power, language ideology, and linguistic diasporas. Chapters on gender, race, and class also examine how language helps create—and is created by—identity.

New to this edition are enhanced and updated pedagogical features, such as learning objectives, updated resources for continued learning, and the inclusion of a glossary. There is also an expanded discussion of communication online and of social media outlets and how that universe is changing how we interact. The discussion on race and ethnicity has also been expanded to include Latin- and Asian-American English vernacular.

James Stanlaw is professor of anthropology at Illinois State University. His areas of interest include linguistic anthropology, cognitive anthropology, language and culture contact, and Japan and Southeast Asia. He is the author of Japanese English: Language and Culture Contact.

Nobuko Adachi is associate professor of anthropology at Illinois State University. Her interests include transnationalism, ethnohistory, and ethnic studies. She is the author of Ethnic Capital in a Japanese Brazilian Commune: Child of Nature.

Zdenek Salzmann is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A specialist in Native American languages and folklore, he is the author, with his wife Joy, of Native Americans of the Southwest.


1 Introducing Linguistic Anthropology
Why Should We Study Language? Language in Daily Life
Modern Myths Concerning Languages
Brief History of Anthropology
Anthropology, Linguistics, and Linguistic Anthropology
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

2 Methods of Linguistic Anthropology
Contrasting Linguistics with Linguistic Anthropology
Three Strains of Linguistic Anthropology, and More: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives
The Fieldwork Component
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

3 “Nuts and Bolts” Linguistic Anthropology I: Language is Sound
The Anatomy and Physiology of Speech
Articulation of Speech Sounds
From Phones to Phonemes
Phonemes of English
Prosodic Features
Etics and Emics
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

4 “Nuts and Bolts” Linguistic Anthropology II: Structure of Words and Sentences
Morphemes and Allomorphs
Morphological Processes
The Sentence as a Unit of Analysis
Showing Grammatical Relationships: Inflections vs. Word Order
Chomsky and Transformational-Generative Grammar
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

5 Communicating Nonverbally
Sign Languages
Always On: New Literacies and Language in an Online Global World
Social Media and Communication
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

6 The Development and Evolution of Language:
Language Birth, Language Growth, and Language Death

Communication and Its Channels
Communication Among Social Insects
Communication Among Nonhuman Primates and Other Vertebrates
When Does a Communication System Become Language?
Milestones in Human Evolution
Design Features of Language
Estimating the Age of Language: Linguistic Considerations
Estimating the Age of Language: The View from Prehistory
Estimating the Age of Language: Evidence from Anatomy
The Life and Death of Languages
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

7 Acquiring Language(s): Life with First Languages, Second Languages, and More
The First Steps of Language Acquisition in Childhood
Theories of Language Acquisition
Language and the Brain
Bilingual and Multilingual Brains
The Social Aspects of Multilingualism
Code-Switching, Code-Mixing, and Diglossia
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

8 Language Through Time
How Languages Are Classified
Internal and External Changes
How and Why Sound Changes Occur
Reconstructing Protolanguages
Reconstructing the Ancestral Homeland
Reconstructing a Protoculture
Trying to Date the Past: Glottochronology
Time Perspective in Culture
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

9 Languages in Variation and Languages in Contact
Language Contact
From Pidgins to Creoles
Language Contact in the Contemporary World
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

10 Ethnography of Communication
Speech Community and Related Concepts
Units of Speech Behavior
Components of Communication
Subanun Drinking Talk
Attitudes Toward the Use of Speech
Recent Trends in the Ethnography of Speaking
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

11 Culture as Cognition, Culture as Categorization: Meaning and Language in the Conceptual World
Concepts, Words, and Categories
The Rise and (Relative) Fall of Ethnoscience
Sound Symbolism and
Studies of Discourse
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

12 Language, Culture, and Thought
The Stimulus of Sapir’s Writings
The Whorf Hypothesis of Linguistic Relativity and Linguistic Determinism
Whorf’s Hypothesis Reconsidered
Color Nomenclature and Other Challenges to Linguistic Relativity
Theoretical Alternatives to Linguistic Relativity
Future Tests of Linguistic Relativity and Linguistic Determinism
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

13 Language, Identity, and Ideology I: Variations in Gender
“Gender” vs. “Sex”
Grammatical vs. Biological Gender
Do Men and Women Speak Differently?
Gender and Language: Theoretical Movements
Does Grammatical Gender Affect How We Think?
Language and Gender: Hegemony, Power, and Ideology
Language in Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered Subcultures
Some Current Thoughts on Language and Gender Differences
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

14 Language and Ideology II: Variations in Class, Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality
Language, Social Class, and Identity
Language, “Race,” and Ethnicity
African-American English Vernacular
Latin-American English Vernacular
Language and Nationality
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide

15 Linguistic Anthropology in a Globalized World
Language Planning
Literacy, Writing, and Education
Intercultural Communication and Translation
Ethical Questions and Standards of Conduct
Summary and Conclusions
Resource Manual and Study Guide


Praise for Prior Editions
Language, Culture, and Society provides comprehensive coverage of the fundamental subfields of linguistic anthropology. The rich variety of examples presented from languages spoken all over the globe allows students to enter the world of working linguistic anthropologists.” —Marilyn S. Manley, Rowan University

Language, Culture, and Society is a welcoming text regardless of the reader’s background in linguistic anthropology. Material that is significant in scope and depth is masterfully rendered in digestible yet substantive elements. There is an art to maintaining conceptual rigor while deftly delivering profound ideas in readily grasped writing—an art that Salzmann, Stanlaw, and Adachi possess in great amounts.” —William L. Alexander, University of North Carolina Wilmington

“A major introduction and overview to the (reborn) field of linguistic anthropology. The book is systematic and very accessible. It covers most of what is relevant in the field, for which it certainly is to be highly recommended.” —Applied Linguistics

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