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Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese (Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics) Paperback – August 7, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0195088366 ISBN-10: 0195088360 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics (Book 8)
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195088360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195088366
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"There is a lot to be gleaned from just about anything produced by Wierzbicka-the "key words book"...is no exception...The observations are plentiful and fascinating...[Wierzbicka] has done more than anyone else to really "understand cultures through their key words."--Word

Language Notes

Text: English --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Contrary to the previous reviewer's opinion, I found this book fascinating. I don't have a Ph.D. in linguistics either.
Her claim is *not* that one cannot understand the key words of a culture without being immersed in the culture, only that one cannot understnad the key words of a culture by means of simplistic translations or definitions. She attempts to provide careful and precise definitions, given in what she calls the "Natural Semantic Metalanguage" -- an extremely restricted vocabulary consisting of words that, as far as she has been able to tell via research, have equivalents in every natural language.
I don't buy all of her "Natural Semantic Metalanguage" theories (for which see her other book _Semantics: Primes and Universals_) but it sure is a useful tool for the job she's doing here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Qesher on July 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
I read this and used this book over a decade ago, but it got lost-in-the-exhaust of moving around the country. I am delighted it is available here. As a bona fide linguist, I view this work as a practical exposition of pragmattics, register, and as a springboard for further anthropological linguistic study. Do consider giving this a try, won't you?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sunshine on July 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perhaps the book would have been better if focused on a single culture. As it is, the analysis of so few words leads to plausible conclusions, but not probable conclusions. Overall I thought it was fine until I showed the book to a Russian native and she told me the word use and translation was archaic.
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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book for an athropology class at a western private university. I have to say that while Wierzbicka's domination of different languages is impressive, her "fluffy" explanations of the key words in the book tend to bore the reader, thus leaving him/her more confused about the meanings of the key words than before. Furthermore, her findings tend to undermine her own premise that a culture's key words cannot be understood except by understanding the culture itself. No one person can claim to explain--as she does--what certain words mean within their cultural realm without having been immmersed totally in that culture (usually born and raised). Thus, one is lead to believe that even she doesn't understand the "key words" totally, and her credibility is therefore undermined. I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone with less than a Ph.D. in Linguistics.
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Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese (Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics)
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