Week 3 Assignment

At the following link you’ll find a simple Iupiat (Alaska Native) dictionary, written by white scholars and missionaries, from the 1970s (when people still used the word “Eskimo”). [DOWNLOAD THE DICTIONARY  download]

The dictionary is divided into what are basically semantic domains culturally relevant areas of meaning, and the terms associated with them (you can find words for “snow” in section 3.7).

1. Select one section of the dictionary and read through it carefully. Explore what words are present, how they relate to one another (as best you can tell), and maybe think about what’s missing that surprises you.

2. Compare and contrast the semantic domain represented in your section’s vocabulary with words you’d associate with the same semantic domain in your own native language (English, Spanish, Chinese, etc.). What’s similar between your language and Iupiat? What’s different? What sorts of cultural differences can you speculate might exist for speakers of Iupiat and speakers of your language?

You only need to write a paragraph or so (if you want to write more, that’s good too!), but as with previous assignments (and future ones!), the more detail you use to demonstrate you’ve really put some thought into this, the higher your score will be. The goal of the assignment is for you to consider and provide an interpretive analysis of one way in which differences in language can lead to cultural differences in “thought” and cognition.

Oh, and don’t forget to tell us which section (number and title) you’re discussing.

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