Social Science homework help. Assignment One: Ecology of a Language/Dialect
Anthropology 7/Spring, 2020
Your assignment is to research and report on the ecology of a language. Important dates for this assignment are:
Choice of language/dialect approved by February 7th, in class. Student will give a brief oral statement on the language they chose, and why they made that choice.
Rough Draft: Each student is to write a rough draft, to be exchanged with another student in class. The draft must be evaluated in terms of clarity, and meeting the grading criteria listed below. Final paper must include the name of the classmate who evaluated the rough draft.
Rough drafts should be submitted to classmate by February 21st, and final paper is due in class (only hard copy will be accepted) on March 27th. This paper must be at least 3 pages in length, standard fonts and 1 inch margins.
Topic Choice. You will choose to write on a particular language/dialect. Your choice must not be one of the more wide-spread “languages” such as Spanish, French, Russian, Latin, Greek, Chinese, etc. Instead, you must narrow your focus to a specific dialect or variety of one of these or some other language; or you may choose a lesser-known non-European language. For example, rather than “Spanish,” you might choose Cuban Spanish, or Andean Spanish. Instead of “French,” you might look at Quebec French, or West African French. You are also welcome to choose a dialect of English. This might be a regional dialect, such as New England, Southwestern, or Appalachian; or it might be a social dialect, such as Cajun, or Boston Brahmin.
You may, if you wish, report on a creole language. Some examples include: Sea Island Creole (“Gullah”); the West Indian Creole languages (Jamaican, Haitian, Belizean, Trinidadian, Papiamentu, etc.); South American creoles (Sranan Tongo, Saramakan, Ndjuka, etc.); Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea); Krio (Sierra Leon); Kamtak (Cameroon); etc. It should be noted that African American (Ebonics), may be analyzed as either a dialect of American English, or as a creole language; if you choose this language variety, you must explain how you classify it, and why. You may chose an endangered language, or a language in a “post-vernacular phase. NO DEAD LANGUAGES ACCEPTED!
Questions you will address. A successful paper will address questions relevant to the language variety under investigation and, where possible, suggest answers for the questions presented. Some questions that may be relevant are given below. Depending on the variety you choose, you may find that one or more of these questions are not relevant, and you may encounter other questions as you research your language variety. Addressing these questions should be the main focus of your paper. DO NOT come to me and complain that you can’t find this information about the language your chose. Either you aren’t looking hard enough, or you need to choose a different language. Here are the basic questions you should answer (Adapted from The Linguistic Reporter, Winter 1971, page 25):
- What is the name of the language variety (what do its speakers call it; what do non-speakers call it; what do linguists call it)?
- Who are its users, and how are they grouped by nation, geographical location, class, religion, or any other relevant grouping?
- What larger “language” does it belong to? What are the main closely related dialects?
- What other dialects are employed by its users?
- Is this dialect written? If so, how and in what contexts?
- Is its use restricted or limited in certain ways, for example religion or ritual, written literature, legal proceedings, folk tales, and so on?
- What issues of power and authority are relevant to this dialect?
- Is the dialect endangered? If so, what factors might be involved? If not, what might be contributing to its vitality?
Criteria by which the paper will be evaluated by classmate and graded by instructor:
Citations: All references must be from valid, scholarly sources, and properly cited. All listed references must be cited in the text. Internet sources should be scholarly works made available on the Internet, or print sources such as journal articles accessed through the Internet. HINT: If there is no author’s name, it probably isn’t a scholarly source; DON’T CITE IT! Travel and tourist guides, brochures, commercial websites, and other non-scholarly sources will not be accepted as primary sources. You must site at least six separate sources, three of which must be print sources (WE HAVE A LIBRARY!) Two of your sources (or more) must be ethnographic/anthropological rather than specifically linguistic works that may contribute to your understanding of the cultural context of the speakers of the language. If you tell me you can’t find any sources, I will tell you to either look harder, or change your language choice. DO NOT use Wikipedia as a primary source, and be judicious in your use of any Internet source. Do not repeat nonsense about a language, such as statements that it “has a vocabulary of only 300 words”, or is “the most beautiful language in the world”, or “it is the most difficult language to learn”, etc. If in doubt, consult with me. Suggested format: state the questions (above) as subheadings, and then deal with them. If you only look for sources on the language itself, and ignore ethnographic writings by cultural anthropologists or sociologists, you are missing the point of this class – if you don’t write about the culture, but only the language, you are missing the point.
You are expected to strictly adhere to Chicago Manual of Style guidelines for margins and for IN-TEXT Author-Date citations and CITATION page. The Manual has various alternatives which are used by different publications. But for most anthropology journals AND for this class – ONLY ONE form will acceptable. No citations shall be cited as foot-or endnotes with a bibliography page. Only a Reference List – a separate page (which does not count as one of the three pages for the paper) and in-text citations will be accepted. The Reference List MUST be in alphabetical order, and must adhere to Chicago Style. If any reference is pasted in from the Internet, or in a different font from the rest, or if there is any violation of the required style, you will lose all points for Formatting, listed below.
Almost everything you need to know to follow this style is at this Webpage (and you can explore the rest of the manual at this site if you need more information):
Organization. Make sure to organize your paper into sections (and subsections) in a way that is easy to understand. In addition, give an introduction at the beginning of the paper, and have a conclusion at the end. The introduction should clearly state your research. WARNING: If I don’t know what you are writing about by the time I finish the first paragraph, I will not read the rest of your paper, and you will receive no credit. If the first page of a three page paper is unnecessary padding, it is really a two-page paper, and it will receive a “D.”
The body of your paper should address the questions, above. Trust me, this will give you plenty to write about.
You can also comment briefly on the similarities and differences of the language you are examining and your first language. In the main body of the paper, describe your findings, illustrating with examples, where appropriate. You may also want to devote a more in-depth comparison of the language you looked at and Standard English. In the conclusion, summarize your main points. You may also want to point out areas where you feel that further research is needed.
Take these questions seriously! A paper that ignores them will lose at least 5 points. The best papers will not only address these questions, but be organized around them, with each section covering one of these questions. If a question doesn’t apply to the language you have chosen, explain why. If you find other questions/topics that are relevant to the language, feel free to add them.
References: All references must be from valid, scholarly sources, and properly cited. All listed references must be cited in the text. Internet sources should be scholarly work made available on the Internet, or print sources such as journal articles accessed through the Internet. HINT: If there is no author’s name, it probably isn’t a scholarly source; DON’T CITE IT! Travel and tourist guides, brochures, commercial websites, and other non-scholarly sources will not be accepted. You must site at least six separate sources, three of which must be print sources (WE HAVE A LIBRARY!) If you tell me you can’t find any sources, I will tell you to either look harder, or change your language. DO NOT use Wikipedia as a primary source, and be judicious in your use of any Internet source. Do not repeat nonsense about a language, such as statements that it “has a vocabulary of only 300 words”, or is “the most beautiful language in the world”, or “it is the most difficult language to learn”, etc. If in doubt, consult with me. Suggested format: state the questions (above) as subheadings, and then deal with them. If you only look for sources on the language itself, and ignore ethnographic writings by cultural anthropologists or sociologists, you are missing the point of this class – if you don’t write about the culture, but only the language, you are missing the point.
Transcription system. The transcription system you use depends what you’ve decided to discuss in your paper. If you are talking about phonology, you will want to use IPA transcription. If you are talking about syntax, you can probably simply use the writing system of the language if it uses the Latin alphabet (but make sure you mention if there are any important discrepancies between writing and pronunciation); or if it uses a non-Latin alphabet you may choose to transcribe it using IPA or simple Latin letters. As an example, if your language of choice were Russian (not allowed for this project, you would have to use a dialect of Russian; or perhaps a study of мат words as used by a “gopnik” sub-culture), the sentence ‘I love you’ would be written in Cyrillic as Я тебя люблю. Since most Americans cannot read Cyrillic script you should not use it in your paper. You may want to transcribe the sentence using IPA (especially if discussing phonology/phonetics), but it will also be acceptable to transliterate it into Latin characters:
Я тебя люблю. [Russian]
ja tjIbjja ljublju [IPA]
ya tyebya lyublyu [Latin Characters]
The key point here is to always make sure you give enough information. If you’re talking about morphology and different allomorphs are used in different phonological environments, you need to make sure this is clear in your transcription – and it may not be clear in the actual writing system of the language. When in doubt, use IPA.
Examples. When discussing data from a language other than English, give a translation of the sentence. In addition, provide glosses for the individual words in the sentence – the gloss can differ substantially from the translation. For example:
ya tyebya lyublyu
I-nominative you-accusative love-1sg
“I love you”
“I adore you”
Presentation: You may be an intelligent and perceptive person, but in the context of your paper, I don’t care what your “unschooled” opinions might be. Your conclusions must be scholarly opinions: they must follow from the facts you present, placed in the context of theory or other scholarly work on language and culture.
Be clear and to the point. Don’t try to sound “fancy.” Do not write a long and convoluted or “cute” or “clever” introduction. If I don’t know what language and/or dialect is the subject of your paper by the first three sentences, I will hand it back unread.
You are expected to write in a scholarly manner. Do not start a sentence with, “Well, . . ” If I come upon a phrase such as “in nowaday’s culture”, which is both grammatically and intellectually wrong at so many levels, you will lose points. If you present grand generalizations or pure hyperbole, such as “since the dawn of time”, “people have always”, “throughout history”, etc., you will lose points. If you use an apostrophe in standard plurals, or don’t use one in standard possessives, you will lose points.
Don’t use a word if you don’t know what it means. If it doesn’t make sense, you will lose a point. Throw away your hardcopy thesaurus, or delete your thesaurus software. If those words really all meant exactly the same thing, we wouldn’t have all those words.
Do not refer to authors by their first names. They are not your friends; you have no personal relationship with them. It will cost you points. Refer to authors by their last names and do not use titles such as “Dr.” or “Prof.”
Do not use the word “lifestyle” when you mean “way of life.” Individuals have a “lifestyle,” societies have a “way of life.”
If the first sentence is awkward, or ungrammatical, or simply does not make sense, I WILL NOT read the rest of the paper, and will hand it back.
Choice of dialect/variety cleared with instructor: 2 points
(Inappropriate choice may be returned without grade)
Formatting (including adhering to Chicago Style): 2 points
Substance (organization, treatment of questions, etc.): Up to 10 points
Grammar and usage: Up to 4 points
Wow factor (did I learn something unexpected?): 2 Points
Total: 20 Points