Anthropological linguistics

This article should be merged with Linguistic anthropology.

Anthropological linguistics is a branch of linguistic anthropology, however, it inverts the usual study of humans through the languages they use, to study language through human genetics and human development - thus it is properly a branch of linguistics more than anthropology.

It has had its major impact in the studies of visual perception (especially colour) and bioregional democracy, both of which are concerned with distinctions that are made in languages about perceptions of the environment.

Conventional linguistic anthropology also has implications for sociology and self-organization of peoples. Study of the Penan people, for instance, reveals that they have six different and distinct words for "we" - which implies a rather more detailed understanding of cooperation, consensus and consensus decision-making than English. Anthropological linguistics studies these distinctions rather more deeply, and relates them not just to lifeways but to actual bodily adaptation in the senses, much as it studies those made in languages regarding the colours of the rainbow: seeing the tendency to increase the diversity of terms as evidence that there are distinctions that bodies in this environment must make, leading to situated knowledge and perhaps a situated ethics, whose final evidence is the differentiated set of terms to mean "we".

David Nettle, in Linguistic Diversity, 1998, notes "the amazing fact that the map of language density in the world is the same as the map of species diversity: i.e. where there are more species per unit of area, there will be more languages too." Thus to increase linguistic adaptation and respect for diversity may also be to conserve habitat and increase biodiversity.

Mark Fettes in Steps Towards an Ecology of Language, 1996, sought "a theory of language ecology which can integrate naturalist and critical traditions" and An Ecological Approach to Language Renewal, 1997, that would approach a transformative ecology via a more active, perhaps designed, set of tools in language. This would seem to cross the line from science to activism, but is well within the anthropological tradition of study by the participant-observer. In this sense, the new we answers the age-old question who's we and subject-object problem of conventional critical philosophy, at least to a degree.

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