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Topics in Amerindian Ethnolinguistics


Admission requirements

BA in Linguistics or related discipline


This course approaches language as a set of cultural practices and so aims to study the Amerindian languages of South America through the lens of anthropological concerns. We focus on key cultural concepts on two levels. On the cognitive level of perceptions, concepts and categorizations, we will discuss and analyze different taxonomies such as flora and fauna, colour terms, bodyparts, sensual processes, and conceptions of the world. On the level of performative practices we will analyze the enactment of cosmological values, taking key concepts such as sociality and socialization, leadership, and possession.
Reading material for this course consists of one set book on anthropological linguistics and additional reading material in the form of relevant articles on a given topic.

Course objectives

To acquire a deep knowledge of the key ethnolinguistic topics in South American Amerindian cultures.
To be able to identify a general typology of the linguistic expression of South American Amerindian cosmologies.
To compare and evaluate current research trends and outcomes of Amerindian ethnolinguistics

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

Active participation (30%), a presentation of 30 minutes (30%), and an essay (40%).



Reading list

Foley, William A. 2006. Anthropological Linguistics: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

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