Language is central to human experience and our understanding of who we are, whether written or unwritten, sung or spoken. But what is language and how do we record it? Where does it reside? Does it exist and evolve within written sources, in performance, in the mind or in speech?
For too long, ethnographic, aesthetic and sociolinguistic studies of language have remained apart from analyses emerging from traditions such as literature and performance. Where is Language? argues for a more complex and contextualized understanding of language across this range of disciplines, engaging with key issues, including orality, literacy, narrative, ideology, performance and the human communities in which these take place.
Eminent anthropologist Ruth Finnegan draws together a lifetime of ethnographic case studies, reading and personal commentary to explore the roles and nature of language in cultures across the world, from West Africa to the South Pacific. By combining research and reflections, Finnegan discusses the multi-modality of language to provide an account not simply of vocabulary and grammar, but one which questions the importance of cultural settings and the essence of human communication itself.
Ruth Finnegan is Emeritus Professor at the Open University, UK.
Preface 1. Where is the Art of Language? 2. Playing with the Heroes of Human History 3. `Artisting the Self': The Craft of Personal Story 4. Forget the Words...: It's Performance! 5. Reclothing the 'Oral' 6. Song: What Comes First: Words, Music or Performance? 7. Competence and Performance: Was Chomsky Right After All? 8. Poem and Story: The Arts of Dreaming and Waking to Sweet Words 9. Where is Literature? Further reading Bibliography Index