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University of British Columbia, Department of Anthropology

Winter Semester 2012

ANTH 217-001
Culture and Communication

Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-2:00

Professor Shaylih Muehlmann
Email: shaylih@mail.ubc.ca

Office: Anso 2303
Office hours: Thursdays 10:30-11:30 and by Appointment
(To reserve a time-slot: http://www.doodle.com/2vmhxfm6mbz4zf9u)

Teaching Assistants:

Lorenzo Lane
Email: lane11@interchange.ubc.ca
Office hours: Tuesdays 2:30-3:30
Office: Anso 113

Daria Boltokova
Email: daria82@interchange.ubc.ca
Office hours: Thursdays 2:30-3:30
Office: Anso 142

This course is designed to provide the conceptual and methodological foundations for the
study of culture and communication from an anthropological perspective. We will begin
by critically examining the relationship between language and culture by covering key
debates in the field such as animal vs. human communication, language change and
language standardization. We go on to explore the implications of an anthropological
understanding of culture and communication for a number of areas of research. For
example, we will analyze how language is implicated in cultural understandings of race,
gender, class and ethnicity. Finally, we will explore how language has been understood in
relation to power, political economy and language ideologies.


The course pack is available at the UBC Bookstore and additional readings (journal
articles and e-books) are available online through the UBC Library site with stable URLs
listed below as well as on Vista. You will need your Campus Wide Login (CWL) ID to
log in (for more info, visit www.cwl.ubc.ca). Books containing chapters from the course
pack will also be shelved in the Koerner Library Reserves.


Attendance and class participation: 10%.
Mid-term Exam: 30%.
Review paper (4 pages): 20%.
Final exam: 40%.

1) Participation (10%):

Participation marks will be calculated based on attendance, in-class participation
and in-class group assignments.

2) Mid-term Exam (30%) October 25:

The mid-term exam will include multiple choice and short answer questions

3) Review Essay (20%) Due November 22:

It must be 4 pages long (maximum), typed and double-spaced, with # 12 font and
one-inch margins. Email submissions will not be accepted.
This is a review essay: i.e. you must examine one or more themes analyzed in
class, focusing on at least 4 class readings discussed in class (i.e. readings covered
by the deadline date; please note that videos do not count as readings). You
should identify the topic you intend to analyze (for instance, animal
communication, linguistic relativity etc.) and make connections, draw
comparisons, and/or point out differences in the way different readings approach
these topics. Please avoid lengthy direct quotations (i.e. of more than 3 lines).
Please include the full references in the end (on page # 5), following the citation
format of the syllabus: For instance: Chun, Elaine W. 2004. Ideologies of
Legitimate Mockery: Margaret Cho's Revoicings of Mock Asian. Pragmatics.
14(2/3): 263-289.
Citation: when citing a source in the main text, please use the following format:
last name of author, year of publication, and page number (all in parenthesis).
Example: (Hill 1998: 681).

4) Final Exam (40%) TBA (during final examination period December 7-21):

The exam will include multiple-choice, short answer and short essay questions.


Late assignments will lose one letter grade for each weekday after the final deadline (e.g.
a B paper submitted a day late becomes a B-). It is not the responsibility of the instructor
to contact you about a missing assignment.

All assignments including late assignments should be delivered to the instructor or
TA during class time or office hours. The Department of Anthropology also provides a
locked assignment drop box across from the Main Office in the ANSO building. Please
note that while every precaution is taken, there is no guarantee that assignments deposited
in the drop box will be received by instructors. If you use the drop box to deliver an
assignment, be sure to let the TA know by email within 24 hours so delivery can be
confirmed, and be sure to use the time stamp provided.

The instructor must be informed in writing no later than 24 hours after a missed exam
that a student is unable to attend due to a medical or family emergency. Students may be
given (but are not guaranteed) the opportunity to take a make-up exam at the discretion of
the instructor, the format of which will differ from the original exam.


All assignments must adhere to scholarly standards and styles. Please follow the style
guidelines of the American Anthropological Association. You must cite any material
(books, articles, websites) from which you draw your ideas. Students discovered to have
purchased or copied parts or the entirety of papers will be reported to the Dean of Arts
Office for discipline. All students are strongly advised to consult the Universitys
guidelines on plagiarism, available online at:

URL: http://www.library.ubc.ca/ home/plagiarism/


Week 1. Introduction to the Course (September 6)

Week 2. Human and Animal Communication (September 11 and 13)

Salzmann, Zdenek. 1998. Language, Culture and Society. Boulder: Worldview.
Chapter 2: Communication and Speech. Pp. 17-38. (Course Pack)

Pinker, Steven. 2007. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language.
Perrenial. Chapter 11: The Big Bang. Pp.332-369. (Course Pack)

Video: Koko: A Talking Gorilla (1978: directed by Barbet Schroeder)

Week 3. Language and Worldview (September 18 and 20)

Whorf, Benjamin Lee. 1956. The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to
Language. In Language, Thought, and Reality. John B. Carroll (Ed.). Cambridge:
M.I.T.Press. Pp. 134-159.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015002136714?urlappend=%3Bseq=152

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press. Pp 1-22. (Course Pack)

Week 4. Language Change (September 25 and 27)

McWhorter, John. 1998. Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of "Pure" Standard
English. Cambridge, MA. Perseus. Chapter 4: In Centenary Honor of Mark
Lidell: The Shakespearean Tragedy. Pp. 87-116. (Course Pack)

Urban Dictionary Exercise: http://www.urbandictionary.com/

Week 5. Language Standardization (October 2 and 4)

Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and
Discrimination in the United States. New York, NY: Routledge. Chapter 3: The
Standard Language Myth. Pp. 53-62. (Coursepack)

Jones, G. M. and Schieffelin, B. B. 2009. Talking Text and Talking Back: My BFF Jill
from Boob Tube to YouTube. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01481.x/full

Video: American Tongues (1988: directed by Louis Alvarez and Andy Kolker)

Week 6. Language Stratification (October 9 and 11)

Labov, William. The Social Stratification of (r) in New York City Department Stores, in
Labov, W. (1972) Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia, PA: University of
Pensnsylvania Press. Pp. 43-54. (Coursepack)

Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and
Discrimination in the United States. New York, NY: Routledge. Chapter 4: The
Language Subordination Model. Pp. 63-73. (Coursepack)

Week 7. Obscenity (October 16, NO CLASS OCTOBER 18)

Pinker, Steven. 2007. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.
New York, NY: Penguin. Chapter 7: The Seven Words You Cant Say on
Television. Pp. 323-772.

Video: Fuck (2005: directed by Steve Anderson)

Week 8. Discussion/Review and Mid-term Exam (October 23 and 25)

Tuesdays class will be a discussion and review of key themes.
The Mid-term exam is on OCTOBER 25


Week 9. Language and Gender (October 30 and November 1)

Kulick, Don. 1998. Anger, gender, language shift and the politics of revelation in a Papua New
Guinean village. Language ideologies: Practice and theory. Pragmtaic s 2:3.281-2 96
URL: http://elanguage.net/journals/pragmatics/article/download/381/313

Herring, Susan C., and John C. Paolillo. 2006. Gender and Genre Variation in Weblogs.
Journal Of Sociolinguistics. 10(4):439-459.
URL: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=21980033&site=

Week 10. Language Endangerment (November 6 and November 8)

Nettle, Daniel, and Suzanne Romaine. 2000. Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the
World's Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Introduction. Pp. 1-25.
URL: http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ubc/docDetail.action?docID=10273319

Berreby, David. 2003. Fading Species and Dying Tongues: When the Two Part Ways
New York Times, May 27: F3.

Week 11. Language and Indigenous Identity (November 13 and 15)

Muehlmann, Shaylih. 2008. Spread Your Ass Cheeks And Other Things that Should
Not Be Said in Indigenous Languages. American Ethnologist. 35(1): 34-48.
URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1548-1425.2008.00004.x/full

Video: The Linguists (2008: directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy

Week 12. Language and Racism (November 20 and 22 [Review Essay Due])

Freeman, Evelyn B. 1982. The Ann Arbor Decision: The importance of Teachers
Attitudes toward Language. The Elementary School Journal, 83(1):39-47.
URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001559

Chun, Elaine W. 2004. Ideologies of Legitimate Mockery: Margaret Cho's Revoicings of
Mock Asian. Pragmatics. 14(2/3): 263-289.

Week 13. Language Ideology and Review for the Final Exam (November 27 and
December 29)

Basso, Keith. 1996. Wisdom Sits in Places. Albuquerque, NM: University of New
Mexico. Ch. 2: Stalking With Stories. Pp. 37-70. (Course Pack)

Final Note: Although the syllabus will be followed as much as possible, it is intended as
a guideline and circumstances may require a change to the schedule. Students are
responsible for any changes announced in class.