Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Virginia
Linguistic Anthropology is the study of language as it is embedded in its social context. At the University of Virginia linguistic anthropology seriously engages both linguistic and anthropological sides of this field. We continue the tradition of Dell and Virginia Hymes, our program’s founders, by providing substantial training in formal linguistics, while at the same time emphasizing an empirical and ethnographic approach to the study of language in actual discourse.
At the University of Virginia linguistic anthropology is closely linked to the anthropology department’s other subfields—sociocultural and archaeological anthropology. Building on the department’s traditional strength in symbolic anthropology, linguistic anthropology at the University of Virginia focuses on the study of meaning-in-language. Faculty look at meaning from diverse perspectives—from the semantics of noun-class systems in the Bantu languages of East Africa and Arapeshan languages of Papua New Guinea, to the pragmatics of spatial reference in the Mopan Mayan spoken in Central America, to the social semiotics of code-choice and code-variation in an Israeli city. Our faculty also apply diverse theoretical frameworks to the study of meaning, including formalist and functionalist, discourse analytic, sociolinguistic, semiotic, and ethnographic.