Analysis Regarding The Reduction of Linguistic Socialization

The first theme I’m going to examine is language socialization. As I have learned through the semester, language socialization refers to the process by which individuals learn and practice language to be put into a certain language community. But to put into a “Basso perspective,” how individuals use language socialization to define their language community in a certain place. Basso discusses that places are tools to imagine the past and situate the past in the present. Every place comes with a history and culture evolves from it. “As roundly ubiquitous as it is seemingly unremarkable, place-making is a universal tool of the historical imagination,” (Basso 5).

This goes with language socialization because this goes into effect according to a place. Basso also discusses that places are tied with identity. Individuals take in everything that goes along with a certain place into account with their day to day discussion and their day to day actions. “This Earth is part of us! We are of this place, Juniper Tree stands alone,” (Basso 21). Then Basso goes on to elaborate that the people should name themselves of this place. Language socialization takes place between individuals through their language and culture but takes place in a certain geographical area or region. In other words, places tell stories and illuminate values and morals of culture.

The next theme I’m going to examine is the relationship between language and power and how it coincides with Basso’s ideas. The relationship between language and power in some cases go hand in hand. The debate on the meaning articulation can be of help on this explanation. To be articulate is often confused with speaking in an intelligent manner and sounding out each word. But, the meaning of articulate is to be heard and understood while communication. In the book, Basso explains that the Western Apache are not to be mistaken as cloudy thinkers because they are hard to interpret through their words (Basso 39). He quotes, “as one commentator the Western Apache are mystically inclined and correspondingly inarticulate,” (Basso 39).

This deals with language and power because within the Western Apache tribe, those people who are speaking the language could have much power within their community, but when it is misinterpreted by an individual from another language community they are shown as having less power through the kinds of language they use because they are not being understood. This causes them to have a barrier. This barrier is their place and/or their identity; how they are known. “…the land still looks after us.” The way this is worded goes to show the value these individuals take in their land and how much they consider of how much it decides their values and morals (Basso 38). Language and power vary through certain individuals and through certain language groups because of the many cultural differences and geographical differences. The Western Apache use their cultural values in regard to where they are.

Next, I am going to examine speech communities and how they play a role within a place. The definition of a speech community is a group who interacts with one another and share ideas; know what to say, not simply how to speak the language. The Western Apache as expressed in the book have a very unique way of communication and understanding one another. “These places make you remember how to live right, so you want to replace yourself again,” (Basso 59). This part of the book Nick Thompson, the man Basso is talking to throughout the book, is speaking about “Stalking with Stories.” In this segment, I believe he is explaining how the stories he remembers that his family members told him in a certain area. The places remind him of what is good and what is right and how he should live just by the stories in those places. Nick Thompson explains to Basso that the places where he heard these stories or life lessons remind him of what is right. This speech community that Nick Thompson is a part of has such a metaphorical ingenious way of looking at life and the way it pans out in a certain place.

Finally, the last theme I am going to analyze is language ideologies. I am going to focus on the level of awareness of speakers in ideology because I think it plays a specific role in this book. The awareness of speakers shown within the studies of the Western Apache tribe is prevalent throughout the book. The sacredness of American Indian land has to do with their environmental awareness (Basso 105). The speaker awareness has a lot to do with their environmental awareness because so much of their culture is based off of their place in the world. “More precisely, dwelling is said to consist in the multiple “lived relationships” that people maintain with places, for it is solely by virtue of these relationships that space acquires meaning,” (Basso 106). Basso explains that without the relationships among people in certain places the places would have no meaning to these people.

Without the social awareness of a speaker and who they are talking to and the way in which they are talking to them would give a place no meaning. Thus, people’s identities many times evolve with their place. “Places animate the feelings of persons who attend them, these same ideas and feelings animate the places on which attention has been bestowed, and the movements of this process-inward toward facets of the self, outward toward aspects of the external world, alternately both together-cannot be known in advance,” (Basso 107). Language and culture without place and place without language and culture cannot be known without the other. The language ideology and environmental ideology of the text is represented well by Basso.

In conclusion, language ideologies, speech communities, language and power, and language socialization all play a big part within the many themes of Wisdom Sits in Places. The representation on place and relationships between individuals in the cultural aspects of American Indians is such an interesting study that Keith Basso elaborates on. The author focused on something that many anthropologists look over while considering people’s behavior in their day to day lives. This book raised these questions: are terms in our Anthropology studies be replaced with ideas on individual speech communities within an environment instead of just a stand-alone study on language itself? Can we even study language without looking at the environmental aspect? Are Anthropologist missing a huge part of studies when they don’t consider environment? How can this change everything? This book was a huge eye opener for me on the different ways we can understand certain groups of people in this world just based on the environment they live in.

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