CCOG for ATH 104 Spring 2024

Course Number:
ATH 104
Course Title:
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces basic concepts, approaches, and perspectives of linguistic anthropology. Explores how language defines the relationship of the individual to society and the role language plays in constituting power, hierarchy, ethnicity, gender, ideology, and other aspects of social identity. Explores how language can also affect the ways that speakers conceptualize actions and organize the world. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course examines how speakers use language to display identity and define cultural context. It describes and compares the role of language and culture in U.S. society with other cultures.  Topics examined in the class include:  language and world view, language and colonialism, language and storytelling, language and gender roles, narratives of power and language and technology.

ATH 104 classes are taught F2F, remotely and online. To be successful, students should read and write at the college level.  ATH  101-104 are standalone courses and do not have to be taken in sequence.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe the relationships between language and culture in U.S. society and compare it with other cultures from an anthropological perspective.
  2. Discuss the relationship between language and systems of power through a study of political speeches, war propaganda, songs, folktales and other cultural narratives.
  3. Discuss the diversity, complexity and changing nature of global languages from an anthropological perspective.
  4. Describe the role language plays in forming or maintaining personal identity or transforming social institutions.

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

General education philosophy statement

This course is a survey course that provides a broad and general introduction to the sub-field of linguistic anthropology. Linguistic anthropologists study the evolution and history of language, or analyze the relationship between language and culture. This course examines how language both reflects and shapes culture and can be used to support systems of power and fuel social conflict. Political speeches, narratives, war propaganda, songs, poetry and folktales are examined as examples of nationalism, colonialism, gender bias or racism. The course also focuses on exploring how language shapes personal identity or how the meaning of words often changes over time. Students compare slang from different time periods in U.S. society, gain experience in textual analysis and identify how gender, ethnic and other types of cultural bias are encoded in language. By taking this course, students will develop critical and analytical skills to engage in textual analysis. They will also gain experience in intellectual problem solving by studying the characteristics of slang and expand their knowledge of linguistic concepts, theories and methods. Another important aspect of the course is the study of the history of language and how it changes over time. Students will also examine systems of power or ethical issues related songs, stories, war propaganda or political narratives and develop more cultural awareness and appreciation for the diversity of human thought and experience.

Aspirational Goals

Evaluate the impact of language on the enculturation process

Apply anthropological theories and methods to the study of language

Conduct textual analysis

Discuss how systems of social stratification and power are reinforced and also challenged through language

Course Activities and Design

Activities  may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Lectures
  • Quizzes
  • Short papers
  • Linguistic Analysis exercises
  • Term papers
  • You Tube video viewing for prompting discussion and practicing transcription skills
  • Viewing of documentaries
  • discussion forums
  • community based learning
  • presentations
  • guest speakers
  • speed culturing

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • exams ( in class and take home)
  •  term papers
  • projects
  • short papers
  • quizzes
  •  student presentations
  • community based learning assessment
  •  Attendance and Participation
  • transcription exercises
  • textual analysis

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Themes:

  • language and world view
  • language and colonialism
  • language and urban culture
  • language and the verbal arts
  • language and gender
  • language and power
  • language and technology
  • Issues:   

  • How does language contribute to power dynamics in one culture or between cultures,including areas such as everyday interaction, education, media (advertising, news, film/tv, online), and political discourse?

  • How does language reflect or shape cultural values, institutions and world view?
  • How does language define us as individuals and mark us as members of social groups?
  • What role does language play in the process of enculturation?
  • Concepts:   

  • To identify different anthropological theories and methods used to study language and culture at the micro and macro-levels
  • To examine issues such as colonialism, language loss, or social bias in relationship to language and culture cross-culturally
  • To examine descriptive, historical linguistics and comparative linguistics and their relationship to anthropological fieldwork
  • To think critically about the various cultural ideologies that inform popular discussions of language and culture
  • Skills
  • Students are able to describe the impact of language on culture and culture on language.
  • Students are able to improve and demonstrate critical thinking skills through their examination of different aspects of language and culture
  • Students are able to describe the relationship between language and power structures within one society or between different societies