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Language, Culture, and Communication: Nancy Bonvillain's Interdisciplinary Perspective on Human Society and Diversity - PDF Download


Language, Culture, and Communication by Nancy Bonvillain: A Review




Language, culture, and communication are three interrelated aspects of human society that shape our identities, relationships, and worldviews. How do we use language to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and intentions? How does language reflect and influence our cultural values, beliefs, and practices? How does language vary across different groups, contexts, and situations? These are some of the questions that Nancy Bonvillain, a professor of anthropology and linguistics at Bard College, addresses in her book Language, Culture, and Communication.




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In this article, I will provide a comprehensive review of Bonvillain's book, covering its main themes and concepts, its structure and organization, its strengths and weaknesses, and its relevance and usefulness for students and scholars of linguistics, anthropology, and communication. I will also answer some frequently asked questions about the book at the end.


The main themes and concepts of the book




Bonvillain's book is based on the premise that language is not only a system of symbols and rules, but also a social practice that is embedded in culture and shaped by communication. She adopts an interdisciplinary approach that draws on insights from various fields such as sociolinguistics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, ethnography of communication, linguistic anthropology, and cultural studies. She explores how language relates to various aspects of culture such as cognition, perception, classification, worldview, ideology, identity, power, gender, ethnicity, race, class, religion, politics, art, literature, media, and globalization.


Some of the key concepts that Bonvillain introduces in her book are:


  • Language variation: The diversity of language forms and functions across different regions, social groups, contexts, and situations.



  • Language change: The historical development and evolution of language over time due to various internal and external factors.



  • Language contact: The interaction and influence of different languages or dialects on each other due to migration, colonization, trade, education, media, etc.



  • Language ideology: The attitudes, beliefs, and values that people have about language and its users.



  • Language policy: The official or unofficial rules and regulations that govern the use of language in various domains such as education, law, media, etc.



  • Language planning: The deliberate efforts to modify or promote certain aspects of language such as standardization, codification, modernization, revitalization, etc.



  • Speech community: A group of people who share a common language or dialect and follow certain norms and expectations of communication.



  • Speech act: An utterance that performs a certain function or intention such as requesting, promising, apologizing, thanking, etc.



  • Speech event: A situation or activity that involves communication such as a conversation, a lecture, a ceremony, a game, etc.



  • Speech genre: A type or style of communication that has specific features and conventions such as a joke, a story, a poem, a report, etc.



  • Discourse: A coherent sequence of utterances that forms a meaningful unit of communication such as a narrative, an argument, a dialogue, a text, etc.



  • Pragmatics: The study of how language is used in context to convey meaning and achieve goals.



  • Grice's cooperative principle: The assumption that speakers and hearers cooperate to make communication successful by following four maxims: quality, quantity, relevance, and manner.



  • Politeness: The use of language to show respect, deference, or solidarity with others.



  • Face: The public image or reputation that a person wants to maintain or protect in communication.



The structure and organization of the book




Bonvillain's book consists of 12 chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of language, culture, and communication. The chapters are organized as follows:


  • The nature of language: An introduction to the basic features and functions of language and its relation to culture and communication.



  • Language and cultural meaning: An exploration of how language encodes and conveys cultural meanings such as concepts, categories, metaphors, frames, etc.



  • The structure of language: A description of the main components and levels of language structure such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.



  • Language variation: regional: A discussion of how language varies across different geographical regions due to factors such as dialects, accents, vocabulary, grammar, etc.



  • Language variation: social: A discussion of how language varies across different social groups due to factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, class, education, occupation, etc.



  • Language variation: context: A discussion of how language varies across different contexts and situations due to factors such as register, style, tone, mode, etc.



  • Language change over time: A discussion of how language changes over time due to factors such as innovation, diffusion, borrowing, loss, etc.



  • Language contact: A discussion of how languages interact and influence each other due to factors such as bilingualism, multilingualism, diglossia, code-switching, pidgins, creoles, etc.



  • Language and identity: A discussion of how language expresses and shapes one's identity in terms of personal, social, cultural, national, ethnic, racial, gendered, etc. aspects.



  • Language and power: A discussion of how language reflects and affects power relations in society in terms of dominance, resistance, ideology, policy, planning, etc.



  • Language and media: A discussion of how language is used in various forms of media such as print, broadcast, digital, etc. and how it influences communication practices and outcomes.



  • Language and globalization: A discussion of how language is affected by and contributes to the process of globalization in terms of diversity, homogeneity, hybridity, mobility, etc.



The book also includes a glossary of key terms, a list of references, an index, and a companion website with additional resources for instructors and students.


The strengths and weaknesses of the book




Bonvillain's book has many strengths that make it a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning about language, culture, and communication. Some of these strengths are:


  • The breadth and depth of coverage: The book covers a wide range of topics and issues related to language, culture, and communication from various perspectives and disciplines. It provides both theoretical and empirical information that is relevant and up-to-date. It also offers examples from different languages and cultures around the world to illustrate the diversity and complexity of linguistic phenomena.



  • The clarity and accessibility of writing: The book is written in a clear and engaging style that is easy to follow and understand. It explains complex concepts and terms in simple and concise ways. It also uses diagrams, tables, charts, maps, pictures, etc. to enhance the presentation and comprehension of the material.



  • The pedagogical features and tools: The book includes many features and tools that facilitate learning and teaching such as learning objectives, key terms, summary points, discussion questions, exercises, case studies, etc. at the end of each chapter. It also provides online resources such as quizzes, flashcards, videos, links, etc. on the companion website.



However, the book also has some weaknesses that could be improved or addressed in future editions 71b2f0854b


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