Linguistic Relativity Essay Questions

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Please answer all the questions in this exam – they are all short essay questions. 

Your essays must be written entirely in your own words – no quotes, no copying of text from articles, modules, or the web – and must use only information learned from material posted as part of this class (modules – reading, links, articles). Please do not collaborate or discuss your answers to the questions with anyone – the essays you write need to be your own work. If you have questions about the questions, please message me and I’m happy to discuss it with you.

Question #1:

Explain the ideas of Linguistic Relativity and Linguistic Determinism. Link them to Boas’ related ideas. Explain one example of how language does (or does not strictly) shape how we think. How locked in do you think we are in our thinking, based on our language?

Question #2:

Explain the idea of a Cultural Model. Explain the idea of a Speech Community. How are they similar? How are they different? Use an example of each from your own life – One cultural model AND one speech community that you participate in to demonstrate the definition of a model or community. What rules and expectations and norms are part of these models? What roles are there? How did you come to understand these roles, rules, norms, and expectations for the models?

This answer is best organized by a paragraph of definitions, and then a paragraph explaining your cultural model and a second paragraph explaining your speech community.

Question #3

Identify one of your speech communities. In a short paragraph explain the community, how you belong to it, and something about its focus and interests. Pick one speech domain from that community and identify words specific to that speech community. Construct an Ethnosemantic Model or Mental Map illustrating the vocabulary of this community. (draw a taxonomic tree of words, make word lists of “like” words, make a componential analysis table). Write a paragraph explaining your analysis and the words you are selecting.

Question #4

  1. Define and explain the difference between phones & phonemes and phonetics & phonemics, such as /s/ and [s].
  2. Define morpheme and explain how morphemes can be combined into words. Give an example of a word and show the component morphemes.
  3. Inflect and derive new versions of the noun {walk}. Be sure to explain what you’ve done (a correct explanation even if the example isn’t perfect will be fine). 
  4. Write two sentences about a cat and a squirrel using word order to alter the meaning of each sentence. Tell me the word order of each sentence and explain it.

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Linguistic Relativity Essay Questions

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