This innovative and provocative work introduces complexity theory and its application to both the study of language and the study of material culture. The book begins with a wide-ranging theoretical background, covering the areas of dialect geography, the anthropological study of material culture, and a general introduction to the study of complex adaptive systems. Following this general introduction, the principles of complexity theory are demonstrated in data drawn from linguistics and material culture studies. Language and Material Culture further highlights the principles of complexity through a series of case studies, using data from the Linguistic Atlas, colonial American inventories and the Historic American Building Survey. LMC shows that language and material culture are intertwined as they interact within the same cultural complex system. The book is designed for students in courses that focus on language variation, American English and material culture, in addition to general courses on applications of complex systems.
1. List of figures; 2. List of tables; 3. Acknowledgments; 4. Preface; 5. 1. Introduction: Words for things; 6. 2. A dual history; 7. 3. Complex adaptive systems; 8. 4. Material culture as a complex system; 9. 5. Case study: Pantry; 10. 6. Case study: Estate inventories; 11. 7. Case study: Historic American building survey; 12. 8. Conclusion: On artifacts; 13. Appendix A. Complete data sets from Chapter 1; 14. Appendix B. Complete data sets from Chapter 3; 15. Appendix C. Complete data set from Chapter 4; 16. Appendix D. Complete data sets from Chapter 5; 17. Appendix E. Complete data sets from Chapter 6; 18. Appendix F. Complete data sets from Chapter 7; 19. References; 20. Index