Language and Culture
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Keel ja kultuur
Course title in English
Language and Culture
ECTS credits
approximate amount of contact lessons
Teaching semester
Assessment form
lecturer of 2020/2021  Autumn semester
õppejõud on määramata
lecturer of 2020/2021  Spring semester
lecturer not assigned
Course aims
The purpose of the subject is to give an overview of the field of study of linguistic anthropology, its principal research questions and methods. Students are made acquainted to observation methods that help them to understand the differences between languages and cultures. The subject also gives an overview of linguistic fieldwork.
Brief description of the course
The course gives an overview of the most important questions concerning language and culture. Students are taught to understand the subject field and concepts used in linguistic anthropology, e.g. how to do linguistic anthropology, what are the tools of linguistic anthropologist; what is linguistic relativity; if and how our language is affected by our worldview(s); how to effectively map and describe unfamiliar languages, their sound systems, morphology, vocabulary and syntax; what is language and when is language possible; why do languages change and how; languages in contact, pidgin and creole languages; bilingualism, diglossia and code-switching; language and dialect – their differences; how to do fieldwork. We also expand upon the possibility that the speakers of different languages may have different worldviews. We discuss the difference between words and concepts and how words and concepts emerge in languages and disappear. We also discuss different writing systems (Latin, Arabic, etc.) and the question of literacy. We look at some „exotic“ languages, their system of words and concepts and compare it to the system of words and concepts of some well-known European languages.
Independent work
Students are working on one of the projects they choose. First option is to choose a language that is not their own and describe it throughout semester. The language description project is preferably carried out in a group of two people. The other possibility is to create a new language (individually or in a group of 2-3 students). Assignments will be given by their instructor on weekly basis.
Learning outcomes in the course
- a student is able to understand the research areas and the terminology of linguistic anthropology and is capable of describing linguistic differences between diverse languages (including their grammar);
- has acquired basic knowledge on how to carry out fieldwork in theory and practice,
- is capable of making the difference between a word and a concept and has some knowledge of word and concept systems of some unfamiliar languages,
- is acquainted with the hypothesis of linguistic relativity,
- by using his/her own knowledge of linguistic anthropology is capable of creating new language(s) or describing an unknown language in the framework of linguistic anthropology
Assessment methods
Written summary of a project (language creation or language description) and short oral presentation of a project
Dotsent Mari Uusküla