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Making Sense of Language

Readings in Culture and Communication

Third Edition

Susan D. Blum

Publication Date - September 2016

ISBN: 9780190456986

656 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

A wide-ranging and pedagogically rich collection of readings for linguistic anthropology courses, at an exceptionally affordable price


Chosen for their accessibility and variety, the readings in Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication, Third Edition, engage students in thinking about the nature of language--arguably the most uniquely human of all our characteristics--and its involvement in every aspect of human society and experience. Instead of taking an ideological stance on specific issues, the text presents a range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives and bolsters them with pedagogical support, including unit and chapter introductions; critical-thinking, reading, and application questions; suggested further reading; and a comprehensive glossary. Questions of power, identity, interaction, ideology, and the nature of language and other semiotic systems are woven throughout the third edition of Making Sense of Language, making it an exemplary text for courses in language and culture, linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, and four-field anthropology.

New to this Edition

  • Thirty new readings that bring the text up to date and make it more interesting, relevant, and useful in the classroom
  • Two new sections: "Verbal Art and Affect" and "Coda: Action in the World"
  • Renamed or combined sections on gender and sexuality, indexing identity, and diversity and complexity

About the Author(s)

Susan D. Blum is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of several books, including "I Love Learning: I Hate School": An Anthropology of College (2016) and My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture (2009).

Previous Publication Date(s)

June 2012
November 2008


"Blum has done an excellent job of including a range of articles featuring classics alongside new research and new queries. It is a superior resource."--Jack C. Shoemaker, Southern Methodist University

"Making Sense of Language displays a breadth and depth I have not seen in similar books on linguistic anthropology. Blum includes influential scholars outside of the field and her introductions really help place each part, each unit, and each article into a larger discussion. I appreciate the guidance provided by the questions, and how well-suited the book is overall to organizing an introductory course in linguistic anthropology."--Sherina Feliciano-Santos, University of South Carolina, Columbia

"Blum has done a remarkable service in identifying readings that are accessible to undergraduate audiences, and in intermixing these successfully with canonical texts in linguistic anthropology. I often recommend this text to colleagues and I'm thrilled that it's now available in a new edition."--Kathryn E. Graber, Indiana University

"I appreciate that Blum has approached the book from the perspective and experience of someone who has worked in four-field anthropology. That shines through in the selection of readings, which collectively cross a range of topical and even disciplinary concerns. Her introductions to each of the sections and the chapters are readable and conversational with a 'voice' that many will be able to relate to. Making Sense of Language simplifies the task of searching for and selecting relevant readings that are interesting--yet rigorous--to include in the course syllabi."--Rosalyn Negrón, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Table of Contents

    * = Readings that are new to this edition

    Introduction to the revised edition

    Part I: The Nature of Language

    Unit 1: What Is Language?
    *1. Eduardo Kohn, The Open Whole
    *2. Daniel Chandler, Models of the Sign
    3. Charles Hockett, The Origin of Speech
    *4. Jeffrey V. Peterson, Semiotic Communication in Nonhumans Primates

    Unit 2: Language and Thought
    5. Benjamin Lee Whorf, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language
    *6. John A. Lucy, Through the Window
    7. Stephen C. Levinson, Language and Mind: Let's Get the Issues Straight!

    Unit 3: Language Socialization
    8. Shirley Brice Heath, What No Bedtime Story Means: Narrative Skills at Home and at School
    *9. Patricia M. Clancy, The Acquisition of Communicative Style in Japanese
    *10. Peggy J. Miller and Douglas E. Sperry, Déjà vu: The Continuing Misrecognition of Low-Income Children's Verbal Abilities
    *11. Kathleen C. Riley, Learning to Exchange Food and Talk in the Marquesas

    Unit 4: (New) Media
    *12. Plato, Phaedrus
    *13. Laura R. Graham, Quoting Mario Juruna: Linguistic Imagery and the Transformation of Indigenous Voice in the Brazilian Print Press
    *14. dana boyd, It's Complicated. Introduction
    *15. Thomas W. Cooper, Of Scripts and Scriptures: Why Plain People Perpetuate a Media Fast
    *16. Lee Skallerup Bessette, On Reading

    Part II: Language as Social Action

    Unit 5: Discourse and Performance
    17. John L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words
    18. Mikhail Bakhtin, Discourse in the Novel
    19. Susan D. Blum, Naming Practices and the Power of Words in China
    *20. Rupert Stasch, Word Avoidance as a Relation-Making Act: A Paradigm for Analysis of Name Utterance Taboos

    Unit 6: Language Ideologies
    *21. Ethel M. Albert, "Rhetoric," "Logic," and "Poetics" among the Burundi: Cultural Patterning of Speech Behavior
    22. Benjamin Bailey, Communication of Respect in Interethnic Service Encounters
    *23. Don Kulick, Animal Communicators
    24. Keith Basso, "To Give Up on Words": Silence in Western Apache Culture

    Unit 7: Verbal Art, Affect, Embodiment
    *25. Roger D. Abrahams, Joking: The Training of the Man-of-Words in Talking Broad
    *26. Alex E. Chávez, So You Got Screwed?: Humor, U.S.-Mexico Migration, and the Embodied Poetics of Transgression

    Part III: Language and Society

    Unit 8: Indexing Identity

    Region and Class
    *27. Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes, Language Evolution or Dying Traditions? The State of American Dialects
    28. William Labov, The Social Stratification of (r) in New York City Department Stores?
    29. Deborah Tannen, New York Jewish Conversational Style

    "Race" and Ethnicity
    *30. H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman, "Nah, We Straight": Black Language and America's First Black President
    *31. Donald L. Rubin, Nonlanguage Factors Affecting Undergraduates' Judgments of Nonnative English-Speaking Teaching Assistants
    *32. John Baugh, Linguistic Profiling

    Gender and Sexuality
    33. William M. O'Barr and Bowman K. Atkins, "Women's Language" or "Powerless Language"?
    34. Kira Hall, "Unnatural" Gender in Hindi
    *35. Deborah Cameron, Just Don't Do It

    36. Scott F. Kiesling, Dude
    *37. Penelope Eckert, Where Does the Social Stop?
    *38. Tadeusz Lewandowski, Uptalk, Vocal Fry and, Like, Totally Slang: Assessing Stylistic Trends in American Speech
    *39. Gretchen McCulloch, Move over Shakespeare: Teen Girls are the Real Language Disruptors

    Unit 10: Diversity and Complexity

    Societal Multilingualism
    *40. Shifra Kisch, Al-Sayyid: A Sociolinguistic Sketch
    *41. Jan Blommaert and Ben Rampton, Language and Superdiversity
    *42. Lionel Wee, Language Politics and Global City
    *43. Flora Veit-Wild, 'Zimbolicious' -The Creative Potential of Linguistic Innovation: The Case of Shona-English in Zimbabwe
    44. Tom McArthur, Chinese, English, Spanish - and the Rest
    *45. K. David Harrison, Language Endangerment among the Tofa

    Individual Multilingualism
    46. Ana Celia Zentella, Bilingualism en casa
    47. Inmaculada M. García-Sánchez, Serious Games: Code-Switching and Gendered Identities in Moroccan Immigrant Girls' Pretend Play
    *48. Aneta Pavlenko, Bilingual Selves

    Coda: Action in the World

    49. Betsy Rymes and Andrea R. Leone, Citizen Sociolinguistics: A New Media Methodology for Understanding Language and Social Life