Ethnolinguistics

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Ethnolinguistics

 

the school of linguistics that studies the relationship between a language and the culture of those who speak it, or between the language and psychology of a particular ethnic group.

Ethnolinguistics emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the USA in connection with extensive ethnographic research that was being carried out on Indian tribes of North and Central America. Initially, ethnolinguistics sought to obtain data from the history of the social relations of primitive peoples by studying corresponding linguistic phenomena; this approach was taken by such scholars as L. H. Morgan, F. Boas, A. L. Kroeber, E. Sapir, and B. Malinowski. One of the objects of study of ethnolinguistics was kinship terms, which were subjected to new methods of linguistic analysis, such as componential analysis.

In the mid-20th century, linguists began studying other areas of the lexicon, as well as levels of language. It was established that a close relationship exists between linguistic phenomena, such as methods of structuring meaning, and nonlinguistic cultural phenomena; this fact was incorporated in the Sapirian and Whorfian hypothesis of linguistic relativity. Ethnolinguistics has given rise at various times to racist interpretations of language that have not gained acceptance by scholars.

REFERENCES

Shpet, G. G. Vvedenie v etnicheskuiu psikhologiiu, fasc. 1. Moscow, 1927.
Sapir, E. lazyk. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934. (Translated from English.)
Hymes, D. H. “Directions in (Ethno-) Linguistic Theory.” American Anthropologist, 1964, vol. 66, no. 3, part 2. Pages 6–56.

A. M. KUZNETSOV

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