ANTH 350 - BAD LANGUAGE
Long Title: BAD LANGUAGE AND SEMIOTIC CRIMES
Grade Mode: Standard Letter
Language of Instruction: Taught in English
Course Type: Seminar
Distribution Group: Distribution Group II
Credit Hours: 3
Description: How is it possible that certain strings of sounds, uttered in just the right social context, have the power to offend, hurt feelings, ruin careers, be considered crimes, and even spark wars? This course provides a broad introduction to the field of linguistic and legal anthropology, its key concepts, and its methods through an exploration of “bad language” and semiotic crimes. We investigate a range of speech types—curses, oaths, insults, gossip, argument, taboo words, obscenities, blasphemy, slang—and the essential roles they play in our lives. At the same time, we develop a cross-cultural perspective by comparing our own notions of what counts as bad language with ways of speaking that others cultural groups consider rude, vulgar, and even dangerous. We will also explore how different societies set standards for pronunciation, word choice, spelling, speaking and writing, how those standards are enforced, and how/why they sometimes get contested or resisted. Under this heading we consider such issues as plagiarism, libel, hate speech, intellectual property and, in general, the policing of language and signs.