Language is a, if not the, particularly human ability. Linguistic anthropologists are concerned with not only the sound, meaning, and structure of language, but also how it is acquired and lost and how people use it in social contexts (sometimes known as the ethnography of speaking). The program in anthropological linguistics is designed to train the student in modern techniques of language analysis and description, while providing exposure to the elements of diversity and universality in human language use. The student gains familiarity with real language data, at the same time developing theoretical frameworks within which to evaluate this knowledge and skills in formal analysis, language, and social modeling.
Tulane University's Department of Anthropology includes two full-time linguists. Professor Judith Maxwell is involved in research in Mesoamerica, a long-time strength of the Department. She teaches courses in pragmatics, language and power, and language and gender. She is a fluent speaker of two Mayan languages--Chuj and Kaqchikel--both spoken in highland Guatemala, and she offers a course in spoken Nahuatl during the academic year and a sequence of courses in the Kaqchikel language and culture in Guatemala during the summer. She will also be teaching spoken Yucatecan Maya in coming years.
Professor Olanike Ola Orie carries out research in West Africa and specializes in dialects of Yoruba, a language of Nigeria, linguistic theory, language acquisition, and sign language. She offers courses in phonetics, phonology, morphology, and language acquisition, as well as spoken Yoruba, her native language.
Click on one of the languages below to hear what it sounds like:
Please note these video clips are best seen over a broadband connection. Dial up connections usually do not work.
An audio recording of Spoken Yoruba (mp3 format)