Podcast episode 28: Franz Boas and the Boasians




In this episode, we begin our exploration of American linguistics by looking at the innovative contributions of Franz Boas (1858–1942) and his circle of students.

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References for Episode 28

Primary sources

Bastian, Adolf (1893), Controversen in der Ethnologie I, die geographischen Provinzen in ihren culurgeschichtlichen Berührungspuncten, Berlin: Weidmannische Buchhandlung. archive.org

Benedict, Ruth (1946), The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese culture, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. archive.org

Boas, Franz (1887a), ‘The occurrence of similar inventions in areas widely apart’, Science 9: 485–486. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.ns-9.224.485

Boas, Franz (1887b), Response to Powell (1887), Science 9: 614. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.ns-9.229.614.a

Boas, Franz (1889), ‘On alternating sounds’, American Anthropologist 2.1: 47–54. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1889.2.1.02a00040

Boas, Franz, ed. (1911), Handbook of American Indian Languages, Part I, Washington DC: Government Printing Office. Google Books

Boas, Franz, and Ella Cara Deloria (1941), Dakota Grammar, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Brinton, Daniel Garrison (1890 [1888]), ‘The earliest form of human speech, as revealed by American tongues’, in Daniel Garrison Brinton, ed., Essays of an Americanist, 390–409. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. Google Books

Deloria, Ella Cara (1932), Dakota Texts, New York: Stechert and Co. archive.org

Hurston, Zora Neale (1990 [1935]), Mules and Men, New York: HarperCollins. archive.org

Mason, Otis T. (1887), ‘The occurrence of similar inventions in areas widely apart’, Science 9: 534–535. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.ns-9.226.534

Mead, Margaret (1928), Coming of Age in Samoa: A psychological study of primitive youth for Western civilisation, New York: Morrow and Co. archive.org

Morgan, Lewis Henry (1877), Ancient Society, or researches in the lines of human progress, from savagery through barbarism to civilization, New York: Holt and Co. Google Books

Powell, John Wesley, ed. (1880 [1877]), Introduction to the study of Indian languages, Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. archive.org

Powell, John Wesley (1887), ‘Museums of ethnology and their classification’, Science 9: 612–614. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.ns-9.229.612

Secondary sources

Bunzl, Matti (1996), ‘Franz Boas and the Humboldtian tradition: From Volksgeist and Nationalcharakter to an anthropological concept of culture’, in George W. Stocking Jr., ed., Volksgeist as method and ethic: Essays on Boasian ethnography and the German anthropological tradition, 17–78, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Darnell, Regna (1998), And along came Boas: Continuity and revolution in Americanist anthropology. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Krüger, Gesine (2021), ‘Franz Boas and the “School of Rebellious Women”‘, Journal of the History of Ideas Blog. https://jhiblog.org/2021/04/26/boas-school-of-rebellious-women/

Mackert, Michael (1993), ‘The roots of Franz Boas’ view of linguistic categories as a window to the human mind’, Historiographia Linguistica 20.2–3: 331–351.

Mackert, Michael (1994), ‘Franz Boas’ theory of phonetics’, Historiographia Linguistica 21.3: 351–386.

McElvenny, James (2019), ‘Alternating sounds and the formal franchise in phonology’, in James McElvenny, ed., Form and Formalism in Linguistics, 35–58, Berlin: Language Science Press. Open Access

Thomas, Margaret (in press), ‘Boas’ “purely analytical approach” to language classification in the backdrop to American structuralism’, in James McElvenny, ed., The Limits of Structuralism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Originally appeared on History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences Read More



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