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Ethnography Of Speaking

  The ethnography of speaking is a branch of anthropological linguistics which stresses the role of language as a social institution, in accord with the Prague School concept of linguistic function. Ethnographers of speaking highlight the various ways in which the social functions of language vary quite markedly from one speech community to the next. Consequently, great emphasis is placed on the analysis of language skills as they are manifested in naturally-occurring social interaction. In this way, a range of speech events can be identified, which reveal how communication is made meaningful through the interaction of language with socio-cultural factors, including the role and status of participants and the discourse strategies adopted.

The ethnography of speaking is central to any discussion of cultural diversity, since speech communities are partially defined according to the particular configuration of speech events in evidence. An explanation is thus provided for the prevalence of miscommunication across cultural boundaries, even where there is a shared code, or language, since fundamental differences may exist in the reasons for conversation and the way it is organized. MS



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