The anthropological activity of providing ethnographic descriptions is much like the linguistic activity of providing grammatical descriptions. Both offer rules that account for the occurrence of some phenomena (such as, for instance, particular household types or particular sequences of vocal noises), but at the same time rule others out. How the rules are “discovered” is irrelevant to their status, and their degree of cognitive reality need not be crucial in judging their significance. The rules stand or fall only by their ability to account for linguistic or cultural behavior.
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