ANTH 207 Linguistic Anthropology

Develop Your Topic

How do I choose a topic about language and culture?

First, read your assignment to understand the requirements and/or limitations of your topic choices.

Then choose a topic that interests you:
  • have you or a family member or a friend had a "language experience" - an experience where you were misunderstood, where you misunderstood someone else in a cultural context?
  • have you recently come across a video, news report, or interview or about language and culture that made you angry, excited, upset, hopeful or stirred your curiosity? 
  • what are your childhood experiences with language that still stick with you today?
  • what about non-verbal communication such as gestures?  Do they supplement language, are they an integral part of it?
  • what perplexes, fascinates, worries or gives you hope about a world with so many languages and cultures and increasing globalization?
  • how do powerful people and institutions in a society use language?  How do the less-powerful experience that language or co-opt the language of the powerful?
  • ever wonder why and for what reasons your native language (or any language) has changed over time?
  • is there a topic from your textbook or class lecture that you want to further explore?

Where Can I Browse for Some Topics?

Narrowing Your Topic

Which narrow, specific angle of your topic will you decide to research?

FIRST, use some the questions below to help you brainstorm the many aspects of your topic.
You may not know all the answers - that's ok!  You can research some answers later. 

THEN, choose ONE ASPECT to focus on for your research on

  • What do you already know about the topic? Do you want to deepen your understanding of a particular aspect?
  • What do you NOT know about the topic?
    • I wonder how___________?
    • I wonder why __________ ?
    • I wonder if _____________ ?
  • WHO is involved?  Who are the stakeholders?
    • age group, occupation, ethnicity, gender, special interest group, geographical group?
  • WHAT are the key issues facing the various stakeholders?
    • are the issues ethical, psychological, political, medical, economic, environmental, historical, cultural, technological?
  • WHEN is this happening?  Is it an emerging issue or dying trend?
  • WHERE is this happening? Globally?  A specific region?
  • WHY is this happening?  What are the causes?
  • HOW should the issue be addressed?

click on image to enlarge)

mind map brainstorming

 Fig. 2. Washington State E-Learning Council. "Mind Map." IRIS 4-2. ( Published by Clark College Libraries. Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0.

Selected Books On Language and Culture

1. Option: Browse books on this topic:

2. Option: Browse chapters of these selected books