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Making Sense of Language

Readings in Culture and Communication

Second Edition

Edited by Susan D. Blum

Publication Date - June 2012

ISBN: 9780199840922

608 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $49.95

A wide-ranging and pedagogically rich collection of readings for linguistic anthropology courses


Chosen for their accessibility and diversity, the readings in Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication, Second Edition, engage students in thinking about the ability to use language--perhaps the most uniquely human of all our characteristics--and how this skill relates to both classical theories of language and contemporary life. Instead of taking an ideological stance on these issues, the text presents a range of theoretical perspectives and bolsters them with pedagogical support, including chapter introductions; critical-thinking, reading, and application questions; and a comprehensive glossary. Weaving in questions of power, gender, identity, ritual, interaction, and the nature of language throughout, the second edition of Making Sense of Language is an exemplary text for courses in language and culture and linguistic anthropology.

New to this Edition

  • Twenty-nine new chapters that make the text more up to date, interesting, relevant, and useful in the classroom
  • Four new and important topics: Language Origins, Language Socialization, Media, and Generation
  • Additional maps that aid students' geographical understanding of the countries discussed

About the Author(s)

Susan D. Blum is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. She has been teaching and writing about language, culture, communication, and human society for more than twenty years. Her research centers on China and the United States. Among her publications are My Word: Plagiarism and College Culture and Lies that Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths.

Previous Publication Date(s)

November 2008


"There is no other reader that is as accessible to undergraduate students who have no prior experience studying language."--Emily McEwan-Fujita, University of Pittsburgh

"Making Sense of Language is an excellent collection of highly accessible yet intellectually challenging readings that are well contextualized by lucid and well written introductions. It addresses all of the challenges I face in teaching this course."--Amy Paugh, James Madison University

"I wish this book had been available when I first started teaching Language and Culture! It has transformed my teaching of the course."--Robey Callahan, California State University, Fullerton

"The author has made an excellent selection, combining classics with new, cutting-edge research and mixing anthropology of far-flung peoples with studies of situations familiar to our students in the U.S." --Dorothy Wills, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Table of Contents



    Unit 1 What Is Language?

    1. Robbins Burling, Smiles, Winks, and Words.

    2. Ferdinand de Saussure, Nature of the Linguistic Sign

    Unit 2 Language Origins

    3. Charles Hockett, The Origin of Speech

    4. William C. Stokoe, Signing and Speaking: Competitors, Alternatives, or Incompatibles?

    *5. Derek Bickerton, Symbol and Structure: A Comprehensive Framework for Language Evolution

    Unit 3 Language and Thought

    6. Benjamin Lee Whorf, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language

    7. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By

    8. Stephen C. Levinson, Language and Mind: Let's Get the Issues Straight!

    Unit 4 Language Socialization

    *9. Elinor Ochs and Bambi B. Schieffelin, Language Acquisition and Socialization: Three Developmental Stories and Their Implications

    *10. Shirley Brice Heath, What No Bedtime Story Means: Narrative Skills at Home and at School

    *11. Patricia Baquedano-López, The Pragmatics of Reading Prayers: Learning the Act of Contrition in Spanish-based Religious Education Classes (Doctrina)

    Unit 5 (New) Media

    *12. John DeFrancis, What Is Writing?

    *13. Maryanne Wolf, How the Brain Adapted Itself to Read and The Birth of an Alphabet and Socrates' Protests
    *14. Neil Postman, The Peek-a-Boo World

    *15. John Durham Peters, The Quest for Authentic Connection

    *16. David Crystal, Why All the Fuss?

    *17. Jabari Mahiri, Literacies in the Lives of Urban Youth

    *18. Marshall T. Poe, Homo Somnians: Humanity in the Age of the Internet


    Unit 6 Multilingualism

    Societal Multilingualism

    19. Tom McArthur, Chinese, English, Spanish - and the Rest

    20. Edwin L. Battistella, Bad Language: Bad Citizens

    *21. Y. Suleiman, Language Education Policy-Arabic Speaking Countries

    *22. Anthea Fraser Gupta, The Language Ecology of Singapore

    Individual Multilingualism

    23. Ana Celia Zentella, Bilingualism en casa

    *24. Inmaculada M. García-Sánchez, Serious Games: Code-Switching and Gendered Identities in Moroccan Immigrant Girls' Pretend Play

    Language Endangerment and Revitalization

    25. John H. McWhorter, Most of the World's Languages Went Extinct

    *26. Donna Patrick, Indigenous Language Endangerment and the Unfinished Business of Nation States

    *27. Annette Boudreau and Lise Dubois, Français, Acadien, Acadjonne: Competing Discourses on Language Preservation along the Shores of the Baie Sainte-Marie

    *28. Ghil'ad Zuckermann and Michael Walsh, Stop, Revive, Survive : Lessons from the Hebrew Revival Applicable to the Reclamation, Maintenance and Empowerment of Aboriginal Languages and Cultures

    Unit 7 Language and Identity

    Region and Class

    29. William Labov, The Social Stratification of (r) in New York City Department Stores

    30. Deborah Tannen, New York Jewish Conversational Style

    *31. William A. Kretzschmar, Jr. Regional Dialects

    "Race" and Ethnicity

    32. John R. Rickford, Suite for Ebony and Phonics

    *33. H. Samy Alim, Hip Hop Nation Language

    *34. Richard Rodriguez, Aria


    35. William M. O'Barr and Bowman K. Atkins,
    36. Scott Fabius Kiesling, Power and the Language of Men

    *37. Kira Hall, "Unnatural" Gender in Hindi

    *38. William Leap, Language, Socialization, and Silence in Gay Adolescence


    *39. Alexandra D'Arcy, Like and Language Ideology: Disentangling Fact from Fiction

    *40. Scott F. Kiesling, Dude


    Unit 8 Discourse, Performance, and Ritual

    41. John L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words

    *42. Mikhail Bakhtin, Discourse in the Novel

    43. Susan D. Blum, Naming Practices and the Power of Words in China

    *44. Guy Cook and Tony Walter, Rewritten Rites: Language and Social Relations in Traditional and Contemporary Funerals

    *45. Katharine Young, Narrative Embodiments: Enclaves of the Self in the Realm of Medicine

    Unit 9 Language Ideology

    *46. Benjamin Bailey, Communication of Respect in Interethnic Service Encounters

    *47. Chaise LaDousa, On Mother and Other Tongues: Sociolinguistics, Schools, and Language Ideology in Northern India

    48. Keith Basso, "To Give Up on Words": Silence in Western Apache Culture

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