Course Website: Topics in Language and Culture

Anthropology 245g 001

Winter 2007

Class: Mondays 1:30-4:30pm, TC 342


Extended office hours April 2-14

SSC 3404


Week of April 2:

Tues: 10-11:30am

Weds: 12-1:30pm

Friday: 11am-1pm


Week of April 9:

Mon: 1:30-3pm

Weds: 11:30am-1pm


The electronic version of your final project is to be submitted to by 6pm, Monday 9 April 2007

The paper copy, with data set appended, is due by 1pm on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 


Please visit this page at least weekly for more detailed information about course assignments. While the basic readings on the schedule below correspond with the chapters listed for the Bonvillain text, in some cases it is only a portion of the chapter that will be covered. This type of information will be made available closer to the scheduled date for reading.


Professor: Dr. Lisa Philips  


Office hours: SSC 3404, Wednesdays 12:00-1:30pm



[Please put 245g in the subject heading of your message so that it will not be deleted as spam]


 Phone: 519.661.2111 x58098, during office hours only

Course website:

TA: Sheena McKay <>


Office hours: SSC 3310 Mondays 11am-1pm


“Unless you have either the requisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.”

[Note: items in purple print are required by the university secretariat.]

Anthropology 245g is an introduction to the general area of linguistic anthropology. This focus of this course will be to introduce how linguistic variation and language use are central to anthropological explorations of ourselves and others.  Language and culture are inextricably interwoven. It is through language that culture is most actively disseminated, negotiated and changed. In this course we will explore intersections between language and culture including non-verbal communication, cultural metaphors, language and the environment, and cross-cultural communication. In addition to these areas, we will also look at the use of language in major social institutions.


“Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site: .”

I. Course requirements

 a.      Discussion paper, 3 x 10% = 30%

These discussion papers will be two pages each, 1.5 or 2 spacing, 12-point font, relating the information found in the chapter from Basso with that in the Bonvillain reading for that day. You will complete any three of the four discussion papers assigned. (They are listed on the schedule below as #1, #2, #3, #4.) They must be turned in at the beginning of the class on which they are due and no late papers will be accepted. You do not need to tell me which of the assignments you will miss. I will give you the best three out of four marks: if one is not turned in, then that mark will be dropped. Note that your TA, Sheena McKay, will mark these assignments. I will mark all the others.

  • Suggestion: read Basso first, then Bonvillain.
  • This is not to be a summary of either Basso or Bonvillain – indeed it is too short for a summary of either – so be sure to focus on the comparisons between them.
  • Your writing style will also be taken into consideration in the marking so aim for clarity if you don't think you can achieve elegance.

b.      Midterm = 25%

In-class, 1.5 hour test on the readings and lectures. The test may use matching, brief definitions, short answers. You will be tested on the IPA.

c.       Final paper = 35%

Click here to read about the potential topics and guide for the  7-10 page final essay

You must have your topic okayed by the professor at least two-weeks before it is due. The brief paragraph on your topic scheduled below for March 26 may be turned in as early as March 7. Your analysis for the final paper must be based on materials (theory, models, methods) addressed in this course. You must submit your essay to; further instructions will be made available shortly.

“All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of plagiarism. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and ( ).”

d.      Participation (and attendance) = 10%

We will often work in small groups in this course and being an active participant will greatly enhance your learning experience.

A printed copy of the powerpoint slides from each lecture will be available in the 245g notebook located in SSC 3325, the Anthropology Library, from 9-3:45 weekdays. The slides will not be available online or by email. They will, however, allow you to review the main points of the lectures.

II.  Required texts

Bonvillain, Nancy. 2003. Language, Culture and Communication: The Meaning of Messages, fourth edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Basso, Keith. 1996. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Other readings will be will be assigned to those scheduled for weeks 10 and 12. Details of those readings will be posted on this site by week 6.

Helpful websites:

Download a copy of the IPA (corrected to 2005) at the following website:

The sounds of the IPA may be heard by clicking on the symbols found on the following site

III. Schedule








Jan 8



Download IPA chart; begin studying IPA

Intro to linguistic anthropology


Jan 15

Ch 2: pp. 7-13; 15-16; 28-45



Phonology (IPA) & non-verbal communication


Jan 22

Ch 4 all



Ethnography of communication

3rd hour of class: IPA tutorial

Come prepared and feel free to ask questions!

The first paragraph of ch. 1 has been transcribed using IPA and is available in the Anthropology Library SSC 3325


Jan 29

Ch 3 all

Ch 1


Language & cultural meaning


Feb 5

Chs 6 & 7



Language & society


Feb 12

Ch 5

Ch 2


Communicative interaction


Feb 19

Ch 13



Language & institutional encounters: law, medicine, education

Spring break


Mar 5

Ch 10

Ch 3


Acquisition of communicative competence


Mar 12



Midterm (in class, 1:30-3pm)



Mar 19

Read, "Race for the headlines," & Teo (2000)



Language and media


Mar 26

Ch 12

Ch 4

#4 and one brief ¶ on your topic for the final paper

Interethnic communication


Apr 2

Read Pulis (1993) & Howes (1990)



Language, identity & alternate forms of expression


April 9



Final paper due

Your electronic version must be submitted to by 6pm on April 9;

Hardcopy must be submitted by 1pm Weds 11 April

 "Race for the headlines"

Copies will be available in the Anthropology Library:

Pulis, John (1993) ‘Up-full sounds’: Language, identity and the world-view of Rastafari. Ethnic Groups, vol 10, pp. 285-300.

Howes, David (1990) ‘We are the world’ and its counterparts: popular songs as constitutional discourse. Politics, Culture and Society, vol. 3, no 3. Spring 1990, pp. 315-39.

Teo, Peter (2000) Racism in the News: A Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reporting in Two Australian Newspapers. Discourse and Society, vol. 11, No. 1, 7-49.