Linguistic Anthropology


Program Description

The Department of Anthropology at UCSD, drawing in part on coordinated resources in other departments, offers growing opportunities for graduate training and research in Linguistic anthropology.

The field of linguistic anthropology has traditionally addressed a broad range of topics, from the relation of language and cognition, through the linguistic organization of social difference, to interlinguistics and to the politics of performance and representation. At UCSD, we provide opportunity for graduate work in all of these areas. Although not a distinct degree in the department, linguistic anthropology can be a focus of study within our Ph.D. program.  UCSD provides an unusual opportunity to explore linkages between linguistic and psychological anthropology.

Language practices are a topic of central concern in anthropology because they mediate human existence in a social world. Language enables humans to construe their environment, construct self, society, and social bonds, constitute authority, and legitimate power. Anthropology approaches language as a cultural system, speaking and literacy as social practices, and speakers as social actors. Linguistic forms are of interest to anthropologists because of their contribution to social action and social meaning.

We focus on how speakers and societies use language to mark and manage social boundaries (ethnic, national, gender, class), and how systems of communication more generally link to evolving cultural, social, and political structures.  We offer a concentration on the relationship of language to ethnicity in multilingual societies, particularly in the Spanish-speaking world from Spain to Latin America and the United States. We also emphasize the study of linguistic ideologies, that is, morally and politically loaded cultural conceptions of language and social life. We encourage ethnographic research on the way that such ideologies mediate the relations between linguistic and social structure, and between social structure and individual agency.