Understanding Cultures

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Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words

OXFORD STUDIES IN ANTHROPOLOGICAL LINGUISTICS William Bright, General Editor 1 Gunter Senft: Classificatory Panicles in Kilivila 2 Janis B. Nuckolls: Sounds Like Life: Sound-Symbolic Grammar, Performance, and Cognition in Pastaza Quechua 3 David B. Kronenfeld: Plastic Glasses and Church Fathers: Semantic Extension from the Ethnoscience Tradition 4 Lyle Campbell: American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America 5 Chase Hensel: Telling Ourselves: Ethnicity and Discourse in Southwestern Alaska 6 Rosaleen Howard-Malverde (ed.): Creating Context in Andean Cultures 1 Charles L. Briggs (ed.): Disorderly Discourse: Narrative, Conflict, and Inequality 8 Anna Wierzbicka: Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese

Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words
English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese

ANNA WIERZBICKA

New York Oxford OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 1997

Oxford University Press
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Copyright © 1997 by Anna Wierzbicka
Published by Oxford University Press, Inc. 198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016 Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press. Portions of this book first appeared, in different form, as articles in journals or as chapters in collective volumes. I wish to thank the following publishers for permission to include revised and expanded versions of the following publications or parts thereof: Lexicon as a key to history, culture, and society: "Homeland" and "Fatherland" in German, Polish and Russian. In Rene" Dirven and Johan Vanparys, eds., Current approaches to the lexicon, Frankfurt: Peter Lang Verlag, pp. 103-155. Australian b-words (bloody, bastard, bugger, bullshit): An expression of Australian culture and national character. In Andre C!as, ed., Le mot, les mots, les bons mots / Word, words, witty words. Festschrift for Igor A. Mel 'cuk (Montreal: Les Presses de 1'Universite de Montreal, 1992), pp. 21-38. Speech acts and speech genres across languages and cultures. Anna Wierzbicka, Cross-cultural pragmatics: the semantics of human interaction (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), chap. 5. Japanese key words and core cultural values, Language in society (1991), 20:333-385. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wierzbicka, Anna. Understanding cultures through their key words : English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese / Anna Wierzbicka. p. cm. — (Oxford studies in anthropological linquistics ; v. 8) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-19-508835-2 — ISBN 0-19-508836-0 (pbk.) 1. Language and culture. 2. Lexicology—Social aspects. I. Title. II. Series. P35.W54 1997 306.4'4'089—dc20 96-8915 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2 Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Research for this book was supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council, which enabled me to obtain valuable research assistance throughout this project. I am extremely grateful to my very able research assistant, Helen O'Loghlin, whose help, both intellectual and organizational, was indispensable. I would also like to express my gratitude to colleagues who read and commented on some of the chapters of this book, and in particular to Andrzej Bogusrawski, Cliff Goddard, Igor Mel'cuk, and Alan Rumsey. Cliff Goddard read the whole manuscript and was, as always, more than generous with criticisms and...
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