Documenting language as a repository of culture: A survey of ethnolinguistic and linguistic ethnographic studies from the UP Department of Linguistics

Presentation Date: 

Thursday, March 7, 2019


2019 Linguistics Society of the Philippines International Conference

2019 Linguistics Society of the Philippines International Conference, De La Salle University, Manila

Co-presented with Jem R. Javier

We document languages in order to record the inter-related structural units and linguistic processes that make up linguistic systems, which may be analyzed and codified both for theoretical and practical applications. Grammatical descriptions of languages often shed light on the phonological, morphological and syntactic systems of languages being described. However, while it is important to provide structured grammatical descriptions of languages, it is also crucial to access the speakers’ culture, beliefs and worldview, which are embedded in the various terms and expressions in the language, and manifested in the conventions that may be observed in the linguistic behaviors of speakers. Doing so allows us to fully comprehend the ways that speakers navigate through their physical and social realities. It also provides a more holistic description and understanding of languages and how they are used.

This presentation will survey previous studies that have been done by faculty members and students of the U.P. Department of Linguistics which explore how language and culture intertwine. We will discuss how an ethnographic perspective helps elucidate the meaning behind the forms used in languages that have been studied in these previous works. We will also discuss how studying the forms and expressions in the language makes explicit the concepts and beliefs which are the bases of the culture and worldview of the speakers of these languages.