Academic year
2020/2021 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0074 (AF:334210 AR:179915)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Go to Moodle page
The course is part of the related or additional studies of the master’s degree program in Cultural Anthropology, Ethnology, Anthropological Linguistics and is compulsory for all curricula. It aims to provide the knowledge required for reflecting and operating on language and languages from an anthropological point of view, with particular attention to the topic of writing and its relationship with thought, culture, and society.
By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to rigorously frame the question of the relationship between languages and cultures in light of the anthropologically salient linguistic phenomenology. Specifically, students are expected to acquire a general knowledge of the history, theories, methods, and fields of application of Ethnolinguistics and a thorough knowledge of the socio-cultural functions which writing can assume in the human groups. Students are also expected to acquire the ability to expose issues and problems relevant to Ethnolinguistics using appropriate terminology.
The course requires basic knowledge of general linguistics. These notions will be recalled during the lectures for those who have not previously attended a basic linguistic course. Non-attending students who do not possess these notions are required to read G. Berruto, Corso elementare di linguistica generale, Torino, 1997 (chapters 1-5). The course also requires the ability to understand English written texts and a good knowledge of the Italian language for foreign students.
The first part of the course will cover the following general contents: the history of Ethnolinguistics; the relationship between language and culture; the social dimension of language; the communicative dimension of language; culturally significant functions and uses of language. The second part of the course will focus on writing and specifically on its definition, on different types of writing systems, on the cultural and social uses of writing, as well as on the question of the relationship between writing and thinking.
Compulsory bibliography

G. R. Cardona, Introduzione all’etnolinguistica, Novara, 2006 (chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8).
M. Mancini, B. Turchetta (eds.), Etnografia della scrittura, Roma, 2014 (chapters 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7).

Further readings

As to further readings, attending students are only required to read the excerpts commented on during the classes. Non-attending students are required to read two texts selected from the list (I), two texts selected from the list (II), and the volume G. R. Cardona, Antropologia della scrittura, Novara, 2009 (chapters 3, 4, and 5). Texts which cannot be consulted online will be made available on the Moodle platform.

(I) The relationship between language and culture
F. Boas, Handbook of American Indian Languages, I, Washington, 1911, pp. 5-83.
E. Sapir, The Status of Linguistics as a Science, in «Language» 5, 1929, pp. 207-214.
B. Malinowski, Coral Gardens and their Magic, London, 1935, pp. 3-74.
B. L. Whorf, The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language, in Language, Culture, and Personality, Menasha, 1941, pp. 75-93.
C. Lévi-Strauss, L’analyse structurale en linguistique et anthropologie, in «Word» 1, 1945, pp. 1-21.
C. Lévi-Strauss, Language and the Analysis of Social Laws, in «American Anthropologist» 53, 1951, pp. 155-163.
C. Lévi-Strauss, Linguistics and Anthropology, in Results of the Conference of Anthropologists and Linguists, Baltimore,1953, pp. 1-10.
K. L. Pike, Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, The Hague-London, 1967, pp. 1-7.
B. Berlin, P. Kay, Basic Color Terms, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1969, pp. 1-45.
D. Hymes, Foundations in Sociolinguistics, Philadelphia, 1974, pp. 1-65.
N. B. McNeill, Colour and colour terminology, in «Journal of Linguistics» 8, I, 1972, pp. 21-33.
G. Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, Chicago, 1987, pp. 91-114.
A. Duranti, Linguistic Anthropology, Cambridge, 1997, pp. 51-83.
T. Regier, P. Kay, Language, thought, and color: Whorf was half right, in «Trends in Cognitive Sciences» 10, 2009, pp. 439-446.

(II) Writing
Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes tropiques, Paris, 1955, pp. 337-349.
J. Goody, I. Watts, The Consequences of Literacy, in «Comparative Studies in Society and History» 5, 1963, pp. 304-345.
J. Derrida, Nature, culture, écriture, in «Cahiers pour l’Analyse» 4, 1966, pp. 7-50.
K. H. Basso, The Ethnography of Writing, in Explorations in the ethnography of Speaking, Cambridge, 1974, pp. 425-432.
W. J. Ong, Orality and Literacy, New York, 1982, pp. 77-114.
E. A. Havelock, The Muse Learns to Write, New Haven-London, 1986, pp. 98-116.
R. Finnegan, Literacy and Orality, Oxford, 1988, pp. 37-105.
A. L. Prosdocimi, Alfabetari e apprendimento della scrittura nell’Italia antica, in Alfabetari e insegnamento della scrittura in Etruria e nell’Italia antica, Firenze, 1990, pp. 157-301.
G. Sanga, Scrivere tessere tracciare, contare cantare sognare, in «La Ricerca Folklorica» 31, 1995, pp. 107-131.
A. Perri, Evento linguistico vs evento scrittorio: verso un nuovo modello, in «Rivista di Psicolinguistica applicata» 7, 2007, pp. 125-145.
A. M. Mioni, Conoscenze, memorie e riti della scrittura e della parola: continuando il viaggio di Giorgio R. Cardona, in Oralità/Scrittura. In memoria di Giorgio Raimondo Cardona, Perugia, 2009, pp. 13-45.
G. Sanga, Antropologia della scrittura, in Scrittura e scritture: le figure della lingua, Roma, 2009, pp. 13-66.
D. Silvestri, Scrittura, scritture (e altro ancora), in Oralità/Scrittura. In memoria di Giorgio Raimondo Cardona, Perugia, 2009, pp. 47-76.

Further bibliographical references will be given for those interested in studying specific writing systems.
Learning will be assessed through an interview on the topics of the course and compulsory texts for attending students, on the topics of compulsory texts and selected further readings for non-attending students. In particular, mastery of the topics, ability in presentation, and terminological adequacy will be taken into account for evaluation.
Classroom-taught classes with the help of presentations for reading and commenting on excerpts from the further readings.
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 31/07/2020