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Language and Culture
In full paragraphs, please answer the following questions. You must answer questions number 1 and 2. And choose one of the remaining three questions to answer. This means you will need to answer three questions in total.
These questions are based on our textbook’s chapter, “Language”, and on the Sapir article I posted on BlackBoard.
I am not looking for text reiterations. I want to see that you have engaged with the readings critically. You need to refer to the text in your answers, and most importantly, to your own ability to think. So I am looking for answers that demonstrate your “struggle” between the text and your own thinking. Write what you think, be critical… I really mean this.
1. Sapir understands the study of language as a fundamental social science. In his argument, he claims that one of the reasons why linguistics must be studied in relation to culture is because perceptions of any kind (remember the poem analogy) are subjective or relative to a culture’s “social patterns”. What are “social patterns” according to Sapir? And why is linguistics better equipped than other sciences to understand them?
2. Describe the differences between linguistic and communicative competence, including the importance of context on language use.
3. What do you understand when Sapir claims that, “no two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality”? Please include concrete examples to elucidate you answer.
4. Are languages fully developed in relation to their society’s necessities? If yes, why? And if no, why not? What do you think about this statement?
5. Explain Sapir and Whorf’s idea of the “relativity principle”. And what are the problems with linguistic determinism?

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