HAU: Journal of Ethnographic

Ethnographic semantics

Some Theoretical Implications of Ethnographic Semantics. Working Paper of the Language Behavior Research Laboratory, No. 24.

Ethnographic semantics is that discipline which seeks to understand human cognition through an analysis of the cognitive content of linguistic expressions: that is, the systematic study of the meanings of words and the role of these meanings in cognitive systems. There are many misconceptions about the nature of ethnosemantics, however, and by exploring these misconceptions and by using the ethnosemantic method of contrast to establish what ethnosemantics is not, it is hoped that the nature of the discipline will be made clearer. Evidence is presented to refute six basic misconceptions about ethnosemantics: (1) it takes native generalizations at face value, (2) it is concerned with methodology for its own sake, (3) it is anti-theoretical and anti-comparative, (4) it is limited to domains in which there are external classifications, its methods being inapplicable to domains not involving genealogical relationships, (5) it is anti-evolutionary and does not give objective accounts of cultural systems, and (6) it is anti-statistical and unconcerned with prediction. (CLK)

Descriptors: Anthropological Linguistics, Anthropology, Classification, Componential Analysis, Distinctive Features (Language), Language Research, Linguistics, Psychology, Scientific Methodology, Semantics, Sociocultural Patterns, Vocabulary

Publication Type: Reports - Research

Education Level: N/A

Audience: N/A

Language: N/A

Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHEW), Rockville, MD.; California Univ., Berkeley. Inst. of International Studies.

Authoring Institution: California Univ., Berkeley. Language and Behavior Research Lab.

Identifiers: Ethnographic Semantics

Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (68th, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 23, 1969)

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