Languages of the World

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Everett
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1550
End: 1705
Field Work: Day 1 - Wednesay, 14 January | Hawaii, United States Download Syllabus

Language is a universal feature of human cultures and one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of our species. Current estimates suggest that there are over 7100 languages. How do these languages differ? What makes each of them unique? What features do they share with each other? In this course we will address such questions while learning some of the contemporary methods through which linguists study and contrast languages. These methods include some basic transcription and acoustic analysis techniques, as well as some common forms of grammatical analysis. Our acquaintance with such methods will enable us to better understand the primary ways in which the sound systems and grammars of human languages vary. Students will be able to apply such techniques, both in the classroom and in the field, in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the languages encountered during the voyage. In addition, we will also address one of the major questions that linguists, anthropologists, and other researchers are currently grappling with: where and how did human language originate?

Field Work

Country: Hawaii, United States
Day: 1 - Wednesay, 14 January

Students will be given opportunities to listen to and transcribe the speech of several native Hawaiian speakers. They will also listen to a lecture by a linguistics professor and Hawaiian expert. The entire experience will be contextualized with a discussion on-ship beforehand regarding language death and language revitalization, two major issues facing most of the 7000 or so languages existing today. Academic Objectives:

  1. Increased awareness of language endangerment
  2. Practice with phonetic transcription
  3.  Learn some Hawaiian