Ethnolinguistics is a field of linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 which studies the relationship between language and culture, and the way different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community i.e. all the characteristics which distinguish one community from the other. Those characteristics make the cultural aspects of a community or a society.

Ethnolinguists study the way perception and conceptualization influences language, and show how this is linked to different cultures and societies. An example is the way spatial orientation is expressed in various cultures. In many societies, words for the cardinal direction
Cardinal direction
The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the direction of rotation and west being directly opposite. Intermediate...

s East
East is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.East is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of west and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the right side of a map is east....

 and West
West is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.West is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of east and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the left side of a map is west....

 are derived from terms for sunrise/sunset. The nomenclature for cardinal directions of Eskimo speakers of Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, however, is based on geographical landmarks such as the river system and one's position on the coast. Similarly, the Yurok
Yurok language
Yurok is a moribund Algic language. It is the traditional language of the Yurok tribe of Del Norte County and Humboldt County on the far North Coast of California, U.S., most of whom now speak English...

 lack the idea of cardinal directions; they orient themselves with respect to their principal geographic feature, the Klamath River
Klamath River
The Klamath River is an American river that flows southwest through Oregon and northern California, cutting through the Cascade Range to empty into the Pacific Ocean. The river drains an extensive watershed of almost that stretches from the high desert country of the Great Basin to the temperate...


Cultural Linguistics refers to a related branch of linguistics that explores the relationship between language, culture
Cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans, collecting data about the impact of global economic and political processes on local cultural realities. Anthropologists use a variety of methods, including participant observation,...

, and conceptualisation. Cultural Linguistics draws on, but is not limited to, the theoretical notions and analytical tools of cognitive linguistics
Cognitive linguistics
In linguistics, cognitive linguistics refers to the branch of linguistics that interprets language in terms of the concepts, sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue, which underlie its forms...

 and cognitive anthropology
Cognitive anthropology
Cognitive anthropology is an approach within cultural anthropology in which scholars seek to explain patterns of shared knowledge, cultural innovation, and transmission over time and space using the methods and theories of the cognitive sciences often through close collaboration with historians,...

. Central to the approach of cultural linguistics are notions of 'cultural schema
Schema (psychology)
A schema , in psychology and cognitive science, describes any of several concepts including:* An organized pattern of thought or behavior.* A structured cluster of pre-conceived ideas....

' and 'cultural model'. It examines how various features of language encode cultural schemas and cultural models. In Cultural Linguistics, language is viewed as deeply entrenched in the group-level, cultural cognition of communities of speakers. Thus far, the approach of Cultural Linguistics has been adopted in several areas of applied linguistic research, including intercultural communication
Intercultural communication
Intercultural communication is a form of global communication. It is used to describe the wide range of communication problems that naturally appear within an organization made up of individuals from different religious, social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. Intercultural communication is...

, second language learning, and World Englishes
World Englishes
World Englishes refers to the emergence of localised or indigenised varieties of English, especially varieties that have developed in nations colonised by Great Britain or influenced by the United States...


See also

  • Anthropological linguistics
    Anthropological linguistics
    Anthropological linguistics is the study of the relations between language and culture and the relations between human biology, cognition and language...

  • Linguistic anthropology
    Linguistic anthropology
    Linguistic anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of how language influences social life. It is a branch of anthropology that originated from the endeavor to document endangered languages, and has grown over the past 100 years to encompass almost any aspect of language structure and...

External links

Additional reading

  • Wierzbicka, Anna
    Anna Wierzbicka
    Anna Wierzbicka is a linguist at the Australian National University. She also lectures at Warsaw University and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. She studied at Warsaw University. From 1972 she moved from Poland to Australia.Wierzbicka is famous for her work in semantics,...

    (1992) Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal human concepts in culture-specific configuration. New York: Oxford University Press.
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