Bandung, February 1st, 2013. 09:00


I’m in the Ethnolinguistics class this time. My lecturer is mumbling about the relationship between Ethnolinguistics and translation, education, culture and sociolinguistics. Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention about what exactly Ethnolinguistics is. It irritates me and there is an urge to find out about this matter myself.

From Wikipidia the Free Encyclopedia:

Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics)is a field of linguistics which studies the relationship between language and culture, and the way different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community, i.e., all the characteristics which distinguish one community from the other. Those characteristics make the cultural aspects of a community or a society.

Ethnolinguists study the way perception and conceptualization influences language, and show how this is linked to different cultures and societies. An example is the way spatial orientation is expressed in various cultures.In many societies, words for the cardinal directions east and west are derived from terms for sunrise/sunset. The nomenclature for cardinal directions of Inuit speakers of Greenland, however, is based on geographical landmarks such as the river system and one’s position on the coast. Similarly, the Yurok lack the idea of cardinal directions; they orient themselves with respect to their principal geographic feature, the Klamath River.

From Encyclopedia of Britannica:

that part of anthropological linguistics concerned with the study of the interrelation between a language and the cultural behaviour of those who speak it. Several controversial questions are involved in this field: Does language shape culture or vice versa? What influence does language have on perception and thought? How do language patterns relate to cultural patterns? These questions, which had been posed earlier by the German scholars Johann Gottfried von Herder and Wilhelm von Humboldt and their followers in the idealist-romanticist tradition, emerged again in the United States as a result of the discovery of the vastly different structure of American Indian languages, as delineated by the American anthropological linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin L. Whorf. They noticed, for example, that Eskimo has many words for snow, whereas Aztec employs a single term for the concepts of snow, cold, and ice. The notion that the structure of a language conditions the way in which a speaker of that language thinks is known as the Whorfian hypothesis, and there is much controversy over its validity.

I try to make my own conclusion toward this. Ethnolinguistics is a study about language and culture which correspond each other to create a mentality of how people see the world. However, i still believe, it is culture that create verbal language, not the opposite.

Since Ethnolinguistics copes with Culture and Society, I wonder, what’s the difference between Ethnoliguistics and Sociolinguistics?

Firstly, let me offer you this illustration. There is a community of where the female usually say “marvelous” or “fabulous” while the male usually say “Great” or “Super”. At this point, Gender plays its role in the matter of word choice. This part can be analyze by using Sociolinguistics of how people, based on gender, choose what they want to say.

Ethnolinguistics would be more concern from what custom that is owned by those male and female so they use those words.Or maybe they have another words to say it in their own language.

This is a pioneer piece of writing. I will add some more when I understand it more. see you 😀


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