GENED 1177 - Language in Culture and Society





Prof. Nicholas Harkness
Mon. and Wed. 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
Sever Hall 103

How are language, culture, and society related? The relation is complicated rather than simple, problematic rather than straightforward.

To begin to explore this question, we discuss key theoretical issues and illuminating examples that begin to sketch out an approach to linking language, culture, and society. Specifically, we consider the following problems:

  • How is language use a kind of social action? (It is something we do; it has social effects.)
  • How does language organize and provide access to shared concepts and beliefs? (It has something to do with the way we collaborate, socially, to represent, reflect upon, and think about the world.)
  • How do speakers think about and reflect upon language, and how do these reflections affect how they use it? (We have presuppositions about what language is and rely on these notions to orient to and situate ourselves within social worlds).

Throughout the course, we develop a set of powerful analytical tools for studying both language and culture and, ultimately, for defining their role in social life.