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Amerindian Categorizations of the World: An Ethnolinguistic Approach


Admission requirements

BA in Linguistics, Latin American Studies, or related discipline.
This course is only open to students registered for the MA Latin American Studies. It forms part of the MA Linguistics course ‘Topics in Amerindian Ethnolinguistics’ (5194KLD10Y).


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 the cognitive level of perceptions, concepts and categorizations, we will discuss and analyze different conceptions of the world, taking concrete taxonomies such as flora and fauna, colour terms, bodyparts, sensual processes, as well as the enactment of cosmological values through key concepts such as sociality, 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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