Language culture and society course

Course Materials

  • Basso, Keith H., Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996).
  • Becker, Alton L., Beyond Translation: Essays Toward a Modern Philology (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000).
  • Strunk, William and E. B. White, The Elements of Style(New York: Longman, 1999. 4th edition).

Note: All books are available through the BYU Bookstore.

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Course Organization

Here are the procedures I recommend you follow for each lesson:

Lessons 1–10

  1. Read the instructor’s introduction to the lesson.
  2. Complete the reading assignment.
  3. Review the concepts and terms mentioned in the reading assignment.
  4. Take notes as you read: questions, confusions, insights, and examples.
  5. Study the instructor’s discussion of the reading, looking for opportunities to develop your ideas, redirect your thinking, and increase your understanding.
  6. Submit answers to a closed-book lesson assignment that consists of computer-graded multiple-choice questions about the reading assignment.

Lessons 11–13

  1. Read the instructor’s introduction to the lesson.
  2. Complete the reading assignments.
  3. Review previous reading assignments and discussion material.
  4. Complete the essay assignments.
  5. Download the Essay Performance Report .RTF file from Appendix A, and complete one copy to include as the last pages in each of your essays.
  6. Prepare and submit assignments to Independent Study electronically through BrainHoney:
    • 4 to 5-page Preliminary Essay based on questions provided by the instructor (lesson 11) and a completed copy of the Essay Performance Report as the last pages.
    • 4 to 5-page Preliminary Essay based on questions provided by the instructor (lesson 12) and a completed copy of the Essay Performance Report as the last pages.
    • 7 to 8-page Final Essay based on the two 4 to 5-page preliminary essays written for lessons 11 and 12 (lesson 13) and a completed copy of the Essay Performance Report as the last pages.

Assignments

You will complete ten computer-graded lesson assignments and 3 instructor-graded assignments.

Formatting Written Assignments

To make sure that I can open and read your paper, please save it as a Word .DOC or .DOCX file.

Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, ANTHR101_RichardBuonforte_PreliminaryEssay.docx.

Be sure to include the completed Essay Performance Report at the end.

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Exams

There are no exams for this course.

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Grading

Basic Standards

  • You must complete and submit all 13 assignments.
  • You must complete all of the assigned reading for lessons 1-10
    • Question #1 of lesson assignments 1-10 asks if you have completed the reading for that lesson.
  • You must achieve a minimum score of 60% on each of the 10 computer-graded lesson assignments (lessons 1-10)
    • 3 out of 5 questions correct for lesson assignments 1-6
    • 6 out of 10 questions correct for lesson assignments 7-10
    • You may retake lesson assignments; a fee is required for each resubmission.
  • Essays that do not comply with all technical requirements will be rejected.
    • You must complete and submit an Essay Performance Report for each written assignment.
    • These assignments may be resubmitted.
      • A fee is required for resubmitting assignments.
      • Check the Independent Study policies for more information.

Learning Activities

Preparing to Write the Essay

Read the instructor’s introduction to the lesson.

Choose one of the questions listed below.

  1. Write a review of either Beyond Translation or Wisdom Sits in Places. What do you like and dislike about the book, and why? What are its strengths and weaknesses—approach, methods, and presentation? What did you learn—about language, culture, and society, and about how to do effective ethnography, for instance? How might you apply what you learned in your personal and professional roles?
  2. “What can the study of spoken languages reveal about the shapes and contours of other cultural worlds?”1 How, in other words, do close and careful descriptions of particular ways of using language “throw sharp and vivid light on…sociocultural contexts,” opening up a “broad thoroughfare for engaging and exploring different versions of the world”?
  3. What did you learn from Wisdom Sits in Places “about improving the craft of ethnographic description”? How do the author’s sustained attempts “to interpret social and cultural systems through the manifold lenses afforded by language and speech” demonstrate that “linguistic anthropology is a way of doing ethnography,” and doing it more effectively.
  4. “The life of any language resides in the welter of its myriad particulars—in the delicate symmetries of its grammatical structures and the subtle nuances of even the most ordinary forms of speech—and so it is through the investigation of small details, a slow and exacting business at best, that solid advances most often get made. Regrettably perhaps but necessarily nonetheless, linguistic anthropologists are obliged to work in fairly constant miniature, and the larger truths they manage to uncover, like certain costly gifts, tend to come wrapped in modest-looking packages.” Do you agree or disagree with these claims? Why or why not?

Think about what an effective answer might entail.

  • Review Lessons 1-10 with your chosen question in mind.
    • Look for material that will help you develop an effective response to your question.
    • Review the reading assignments.
    • Review the discussion material.
    • Review the lesson assignment questions.
  • Make notes as you review and think.

Study the Performance Checklist—Essays (Appendix A).

Review The Elements of Style, looking for specific ways to improve your writing.

  • Introduction (in The Elements of Style, xiii-xviii)
  • An Approach to Style (in The Elements of Style, 66-85)
  • Elementary Principles of Composition” (in The Elements of Style, 15-33)
  • Elementary Rules of Usage (in The Elements of Style, 1-14)
  • A Few Matters of Form (in The Elements of Style, 34-38)
  • Words and Expressions Commonly Misused (in The Elements of Style, 39-65)

Choose a time and place that allows you to concentrate on your work.

  • Arrange for a place and time free from distractions.
  • Plan sessions long enough to allow you to relax, work hard, and make some progress before you need to quit.
    • Plan sessions of at least 60 minutes.
      • Otherwise you will need to stop just as you are ready to go forward—virtually wasting your time.
      • It’s like cooking vegetables in water—if you shut the water off before it boils and then turn it on again later, you’ll never cook anything, no matter how many times you heat up the water.

Instructor Graded Assignment

Writing and Submitting the Essay

Work from the bottom up.

  • You can work from the top down but it may be less effective.
  • Make a list of specific points you want to make and that you can support.
    • Points that address the question.
    • Support based on reasoning, examples, and references to the readings.
  • Write your points as complete but concise sentences.
    • For each point: name a topic and then make a point about that topic.
    • Be as specific and concrete as possible.
    • Use active verbs.
      • Avoid “is” and “have” as the main verb of the sentence.
  • Organize your points into groups.
    • Each group will become a section of your essay.
  • Now write a broader claim that covers all of the points in each group.
    • This is the main point you will develop in each section of your essay.
  • Finally, write a single central claim that covers all of the broader claims that cover the several points in each group.
    • This is the central position or thesis for the entire essay—the concise but complete answer to the question.

Enough of reviewing, thinking, making notes, constructing and organizing points—now go ahead and write the essay—however rough the first draft.

  • It’s going to need reworking and revising anyway.
  • Just put something together that you can rework and revise later.
  • Write the sections of the body of the essay first.
  • Write the conclusion next.
  • Write the introduction last.

Revise your work to create a polished 4 to 5-page essay.

  • Review and appraise your work against the Performance Checklist—Essays
  • Complete the Essay I Performance Report and include it at the end of your essay.
    • Make changes as necessary.
    • For examples of excellent writing, turn to:
      • Beyond Translation
      • Wisdom Sits in Places
    • For guidance on composition, form, and usage, turn to:

Learning Activities

Preparing to Write the Essay

Read the instructor’s introduction to the lesson.

Choose one of the questions listed below. Must be different from the question you chose for Lesson 11.

  1. Write a review of either Beyond Translation or Wisdom Sits in Places. What do you like and dislike about the book, and why? What are its strengths and weaknesses—approach, methods, and presentation? What did you learn—about language, culture, and society, and about how to do effective ethnography, for instance? How might you apply what you learned in your personal and professional roles?
  2. “What can the study of spoken languages reveal about the shapes and contours of other cultural worlds?”1 How, in other words, do close and careful descriptions of particular ways of using language “throw sharp and vivid light on…sociocultural contexts,” opening up a “broad thoroughfare for engaging and exploring different versions of the world”?
  3. What did you learn from Wisdom Sits in Places “about improving the craft of ethnographic description”? How do the author’s sustained attempts “to interpret social and cultural systems through the manifold lenses afforded by language and speech” demonstrate that “linguistic anthropology is a way of doing ethnography,” and doing it more effectively.
  4. “The life of any language resides in the welter of its myriad particulars—in the delicate symmetries of its grammatical structures and the subtle nuances of even the most ordinary forms of speech—and so it is through the investigation of small details, a slow and exacting business at best, that solid advances most often get made. Regrettably perhaps but necessarily nonetheless, linguistic anthropologists are obliged to work in fairly constant miniature, and the larger truths they manage to uncover, like certain costly gifts, tend to come wrapped in modest-looking packages.” Do you agree or disagree with these claims? Why or why not?

Think about what an effective answer might entail.

  • Review Lessons 1-10 with your chosen question in mind.
    • Look for material that will help you develop an effective response to your question.
      • Review the reading assignments.
      • Review the discussion material.
      • Review the lesson assignment questions.
    • Make notes as you review and think.

Study the Performance Checklist—Essays (Appendix A).

Review The Elements of Style, looking for specific ways to improve your writing.

  • Introduction (in The Elements of Style, xiii-xviii)
  • An Approach to Style (in The Elements of Style, 66-85)
  • Elementary Principles of Composition” (in The Elements of Style, 15-33)
  • Elementary Rules of Usage (in The Elements of Style, 1-14)
  • A Few Matters of Form (in The Elements of Style, 34-38)
  • Words and Expressions Commonly Misused (in The Elements of Style, 39-65)

Choose a time and place that allows you to concentrate on your work.

  • Arrange for a place and time free from distractions.
  • Plan sessions long enough to allow you to relax, work hard, and make some progress before you need to quit.
    • Plan sessions of at least 60 minutes.
      • Otherwise you will need to stop just as you are ready to go forward—virtually wasting your time.
      • It’s like cooking vegetables in water—if you shut the water off before it boils and then turn it on again later, you’ll never cook anything, no matter how many times you heat up the water.

Instructor Graded Assignment

Writing and Submitting the Essay

Work from the bottom up.

  • You can work from the top down but it may be less effective.
  • Make a list of specific points you want to make and that you can support.
    • Points that address the question.
    • Support based on reasoning, examples, and references to the readings.
  • Write your points as complete but concise sentences.
    • For each point: name a topic and then make a point about that topic.
    • Be as specific and concrete as possible.
    • Use active verbs.
      • Avoid “is” and “have” as the main verb of the sentence.
  • Organize your points into groups.
    • Each group will become a section of your essay.
  • Now write a broader claim that covers all of the points in each group.
    • This is the main point you will develop in each section of your essay.
  • Finally, write a single central claim that covers all of the broader claims that cover the several points in each group.
    • This is the central position or thesis for the entire essay—the concise but complete answer to the question.

Enough of reviewing, thinking, making notes, constructing and organizing points—now go ahead and write the essay—however rough the first draft.

  • It’s going to need reworking and revising anyway.
  • Just put something together that you can rework and revise later.
  • Write the sections of the body of the essay first.
  • Write the conclusion next.
  • Write the introduction last.

Revise your work to create a polished 4-5-page essay.

  • Review and appraise your work against the Performance Checklist—Essays (see Appendix A).
  • Complete the Essay II Performance Report and include it at the end of your essay.
    • Make changes as necessary.
    • For examples of excellent writing, turn to:
      • Beyond Translation
      • Wisdom Sits in Places
    • For guidance on composition, form, and usage, turn to:

Learning Activities

Preparing to Write the Final Essay

Read the instructor’s introduction to the lesson.

Choose one of your two Preliminary Essays to expand and improve for your Final Essay.

Review the question you addressed in the Preliminary Essay you have chosen and think about what an expanded and improved answer might entail.

  • Review Lessons 1-10.
    • Look for material that will help you expand and improve your response to the question.
      • Review the reading assignments.
      • Review the discussion material.
      • Review the lesson assignment questions.
    • Make notes as you review and think.
  • Review your other Preliminary Essay (the one you chose not to expand and improve for your Final Essay).
    • Look for material you can use in your Final Essay, material that will help you expand and improve your response to the question you are addressing.

Review the Performance Checklist—Essay (Appendix A).

Review the Preliminary Essay you have chosen to expand and improve for your Final Essay.

  • Identify those areas that could be expanded and improved.
    • In light of the Criteria for Evaluating Essays (Appendix A).
    • In light of the instructor’s evaluation of your work.

Review the reading assignment for Lesson 11, looking for specific ways to improve your writing.

  • Introduction (in The Elements of Style, xiii-xviii)
  • An Approach to Style (in The Elements of Style, 66-85)
  • Elementary Principles of Composition” (in The Elements of Style, 15-33)
  • Elementary Rules of Usage (in The Elements of Style, 1-14)
  • A Few Matters of Form (in The Elements of Style, 34-38)
  • Words and Expressions Commonly Misused (in The Elements of Style, 39-65)

Choose a time and place conducive to concentrating on your work.

  • Arrange for a place and time free from distractions.
  • Plan sessions long enough to allow you to relax, work hard, and make some progress before you need to quit.
    • Plan sessions of at least 60 minutes.
      • Otherwise you will need to stop just as you are ready to go forward—virtually wasting your time.
      • It’s like cooking vegetables in water—if you shut the water off before it boils and then turn it on again later, you’ll never cook anything, no matter how many times you heat the water.

Expanding, Improving, and Submitting the Essay

Identify additional points you want to make and that you can support.

  • Points that further address the question.
    • Points that expand existing sections.
    • Points that will form additional sections.
  • Write your points as complete but concise sentences.
    • For each point: name a topic and then make a point about that topic.
    • Be as specific and concrete as possible.
    • Use active verbs.
      • Avoid “is” and “have” as the main verb of the sentence.
    • For new groups of points—new sections—write a broader claim that covers all of the points in each group.
      • This is the main point you will develop in that new section of your essay.
    • For previously existing but now expanded sections, rewrite the broader claim that covers all of the points in that now expanded section.
    • Finally, rewrite a single central claim that covers all of the broader claims that cover the several points in each group or section, including new sections.
      • This is the revised central position or thesis for the entire essay—the concise but complete answer to the question.

Identify additional support—reasoning, examples, and references to the readings that will improve the essay.

  • Additional support for previous points.
  • Support for new points.
    • Support for new points that will expand existing sections.
    • Support for new points that will form additional sections.

Organize and Reorganize.

  • Identify where new points and additional support fit best.
    • In existing sections.
    • In new sections.
  • Reorder sections of the essay.
    • To accommodate new sections.
    • To accommodate new points and additional support.
    • To make the overall essay more integrated.
  • Reorder paragraphs within and across sections.
    • To accommodate new points and additional support.
    • To make the overall essay or sections of the essay more integrated.
  • Reorder sentences within paragraphs.
    • To accommodate new points and additional support.
    • To strengthen the overall integrity of the essay.

Enough of reviewing, thinking, making notes, identifying additional points and support, and planning ways to organize and reorganize—now go ahead and expand and improve the essay.

  • It’s going to need further reworking and revising anyway.
  • Just put something together that you can rework and revise later.
  • Expand and improve the sections of the body of the essay first.
  • Expand and improve the conclusion next.
  • Expand and improve the introduction last.

Final Essay Instructions, Part III

Revise your work to create a polished 7-8-page final essay.

  • Review and appraise your work against the Performance Checklist-Essays (see Appendix A)
  • Complete the Final Essay Performance Report and include it at the end of your essay.
    • Make changes as necessary.
    • For examples of excellent writing, turn to:
      • Beyond Translation
      • Wisdom Sits in Places
    • For guidance on composition, form, and usage, turn to:
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