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American Anthropologist

Linguistic Anthropology in 2012: Language Matter(s)

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ABSTRACT

In this article, I discuss the accomplishments of scholars of language and culture in 2012 and the questions raised by those accomplishments. I review matters of language—expansions and refinements of existing research topics, including linguistic relativity, language socialization, sociolinguistic variation, and language ideologies. I then consider a trend of research on topics of embodiment, materiality, and the senses, discussing the matter (in the physics sense) of language. I then use the term engagement to comment on developments in research on language endangerment, language circulation and shift, language and health, language and education, and language and social justice. This is rooted in the notion that language makes a difference (or matters) in cultural practice. I conclude with a brief discussion of the ontology of language, the epistemology of linguistic anthropology, and the roles of scholars of language and culture in anthropology as a whole.

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