Language and Culture
Due: November 28
Agar discusses the importance of rich points
in the examination of a culture. In this assignment you will examine a rich
point as his students did with Schmäh in Austria. 1) interview at least
10 native speakers of American English (not people in this class) about what
the term means, ask them to give examples of it, define it, discuss how
they use it, how others use it, etc. If possible, interview people of different
backgrounds (regions, ethnicity, age, etc.). You may want to ask each informant
about all four terms, so that you can use the term about which you get the
most interesting data; 2) record any uses of the term in speech/printed
material that you run across; 3) define the term as he and his students
did for Schmäh; 4) analyze what important information these terms convey
about the American culture/worldview.
Terms you may chose from: 1) family values;
2) melting pot; 3) redneck; 4) freedom
Interview tips: Allow plenty of time.
Do the interview in a quiet place. Record the interview, so that you have
a good record of statements to use for your analysis. Before you dive into
the questions you plan to ask, turn on the tape and talk to your informant
about his/her background (this is important not only to get your informant
to relax, but this background may play a role in your analysis of the informant’s
answers). Tell him/her about yourself and your goals (why you are doing
this interview). Assure the speaker that his/her identity will remain anonymous
and that no one else will hear the tape (and keep your word).
5 The paper presents a plausible data analysis that
goes beyond the commonplace by offering original insights,
both in terms of the whole and particular parts of the
4 The paper presents a plausible data analysis and may
contain one or two original insights but on the whole
does not go beyond the common range of interpretations
the class has discussed.
3 The paper reiterates in general terms a common interpretation
of the data set with no original ideas.
2 This paper presents original ideas that weaken the
plausibility of the analysis.
0 The paper does not offer a data analysis.
Strength of Argument
5 The paper offers a logical, coherent argument for
the data analysis. All assertions are supported and amplified
with details from the data or from other sources. The
writer pursues an original line of argument in at least one portion of the
4 The paper offers a logical, coherent argument for
the data analysis but only partially supports or amplifies
the assertions. Or the writer does not pursue an original
line of argument.
3 The paper offers an argument that contains some lapses
in logic and/or offers only minimal support or amplification
2 The paper offers an argument that is seriously flawed
in logic or that fails to support or amplify most or all
assertions. The paper is basically a list with no attempt
to support the argument.
0 The paper does not present an argument to support
the data analysis.
Incorporation of Counterarguments
5 This paper acknowledges significant counterarguments
(alternative interpretations and reasons) and either effectively
refutes or successfully accommodates them into the interpretation
4 The paper acknowledges several but not all counterarguments
and refutes or accommodates some.
3 The paper acknowledges at least one counterargument
(perhaps more) but is unsuccessful in the attempt to
refute or to accommodate it/them.
2 The paper mentions at least one counterargument but
makes no attempt to refute or accommodate it.
0 The paper ignores all counterarguments.
Relation to the Whole/Significance
5 The significance of the data analysis offered (either
in relation to language as a whole or to a larger context
in which the data are situated) forms an integral part of
the argument. The connections are profound, interesting, or complex.
4 The paper makes clear the significance of the data
analysis either in relation to language as a whole or
to the larger context in which the data are situated. The connections
3 The paper offers some mention of the significance
of the data analysis or the significance is somewhat
loosely implied. The connections are plausible, but somewhat
2 The paper offers some mention of the significance
of the data analysis, but the connections are not plausible.
0 The paper makes no attempt to mention significance.
5 This paper has no errors in language, usage, or citations
4 This paper has one consistent error in language, usage,
3 This paper has several errors in language, usage,
2 This paper has frequent errors in language, usage,
0 This paper is incomprehensible due to errors in language,
usage, or citations.
Transcription of Data
5 This paper uses proper transcription and/or description
of data, i.e. IPA when discussing phonetics or phonology;
proper terms when discussing phonetics, phonology, morphology,
semantics or syntax.
4 This paper has one consistent error in transcription
and/or description of data.
3 This paper has several errors in transcription and/or
description of data.
2 This paper has frequent errors in transcription and/or
description of data.
0 Proper IPA and/or terminology are not used.