Western Apache Language and Culture: Essays in Linguistic Anthropology

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0816513239
ISBN-10: 0816513236
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Instructive in its exemplary use of ethnographic methods and techniques of representation used for the understanding of linguistic anthropological phenomena....it is especially admirable and refreshing to see much in Basso's magnificent blending of cultural and linguistic anthropology that is clearly driven by 'local' relevances of Western Apache people." —Language in Society"His clear writing, cogent arguments, and enlightening examples help the nonspecialist understand technical concepts. . . . In addition, the work suggests new ways of gaining an understanding of the language-culture nexus and endorses expanding older anthropological or ethnographic approaches." —Western Historical Quarterly"His essays on the Apache language as it is spoken by the Cibecue Apache of northeastern Arizona are remarkable for their use of diverse theoretical perspectives to provide insights into underlying culturally given meanings. . . . Seldom have these propositions been so deftly and clearly supported as in these pages." —Journal of Anthropological Research

From the Inside Flap

Seven essays, collected here for the first time, define some of the central concerns of linguistic anthropology through the close study of Western Apache, a language of astonishing complexity. All of the essays have been revised for this anthology. Basso, a major authority in the field of linguistic anthropology, has drawn on fieldwork at the village of Cibecue, whose residents speak a dialect of Western Apache that is spoken nowhere else. He shows how intricacies of language—place names, metaphor, uses of silence—help a people define their very existence, so that, in the words of one Apache woman, "If we lose our language, we will lose our breath; then we will die and blow away like leaves." His essays amply demonstrate that, while Apache language and culture are changing in response to modernization, they remain intricate, vital and unique. These essays illustrate not only the complexity of a particular cultural world as it has emerged to one observer over a protracted period of intensive fieldwork, but also the natural movement from the study of grammatical categories to that of language use and on to the study of the conceptual system underlying it. Each essay addresses a significant theoretical problem; taken together they constitute a microcosm of the anthropological understanding of language. CONTENTS
The Western Apache Classificatory Verb System: A Semantic Analysis
Semantic Aspects of Linguistic Acculturation
A Western Apache Writing System: The Symbols of Silas John
"Wise Words" of the Western Apache: Metaphor and Semantic Theory
"To Give Up on Words": Silence in Western Apache Culture
"Stalking With Stories": Names, Places, and Moral Narratives among the Western Apache
"Speaking with Names": Language and Landscapes among the Western Apache --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816513236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816513239
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #904,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Author Keith Basso has compiled seven essays over a span of twenty-five years to create a thourough and interpretive look at importance of symbol in Western Apache language and culture. Through his study of Native American language, he adresses several topics including the influencial nature of metaphor and placenames, and the use of silence for the Western Apache.
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By RTR on May 27, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fine book those interested in the culture and those interested in study of language and culture.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Goobies on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for an Anthropology class. The syntax is complex and sometimes difficult to understand, but for the subject matter, it's a great buy.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Crabtree on February 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The writer makes some very interesting observations, and introduces a very interesting culture unknown to me with some success. The book is remarkably void of any recognition of the writer's own perceptive limitations based on the same concept of situated knowledge he uses to critique other scientists. Each chapter begins with a quote from a famous philosopher or one of the writer's teachers as a way to enter the presumably Western reader into the world of the Western Apache. These transitions are clumsy at best, and arguably totally ineffective. Typically, the writer's interpretation of these quotes is dubious.

The writer claims to intend the book for lay people, but then proceeds to use so many difficult words, sometimes inaccurately, that the reader is left feeling isolated and pushed away. I know several people who experienced this difficulty. Worst, many of the "complicated" ideas about self, and being, etc. are really much better and clearly articulated in a straightforward and simple manner rather than the verbose and affected writing style of a pseudo intellectual. Perhaps Mr. Basso is a very accomplished man, I do not know, but I found his writing style pretentious and unnecessarily complicated.

That said, Mr. Basso does makes some very powerful observations about the tribe he studies. It is a shame that these observations are cluttered by the studied and overly intellectualized writing style, and his strange penchant to insert himself into his narrative including telling the reader that a particular Indian woman was "proud" or "handsome", and a particular man "was a good friend." What do we care? What does it add to the story? In fact, the writer's insertion into the narrative is distracting and opens Mr. Basso up to obvious personal criticism.
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