Bambi B. Schieffelin is Professor of Anthropology at New York University.
The Give And Take Of Everyday Lifeby Bambi B. Schieffelin
In this study of language socialization among the
Children everywhere are socialized through language and socialized to use language. Everyday speech activities between young children and members of their families organize and give meaning to social relationships. They are in fact socializing activities, the basis for the transmission and reproduction of culture.
In this study of language socialization among the Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea, Bambi B. Schieffelin analyzes these speech activities and links them to other social practices and symbolic forms, such as exchange systems, gender roles, sibling relationships, rituals, and myths. In Kaluli society, as in many others in Papua New Guinea, reciprocity plays a primary role in social life. In families, social relationships are constituted through giving and sharing food, a primary means of conveying sentiment. Although sharing is highly valued, children are also socialized through language to refuse to share, creating a tension in daily interactions. Issues of authority, autonomy, and interdependence are negotiated through these verbal exchanges. Schieffelin demonstrates how language plays a fundamental role in the production, meaning, and interpretation of these activities, as it is the medium of social practice. Through the microanalysis of social interactions, we see how values regarding reciprocity, gender relations, and language itself are indexed and socialized in everyday talk to children, and how children's own ways of speaking express fundamental cultural concerns about their social relationships.
A wide audience of students and specialists in anthropology, sociolinguistics, communication, developmental psychology, and early childhood education will find much of interest in this highly readable and original study.
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