Ethnography of Speaking Essay

The article “Ethnography of Speaking” towards a Linguistics of Praxis” by Alessandro Duranti provides thorough study of language use in everyday life of a particular speech community. Actually, the author discusses peculiarities of language use involving communicative competence, context, speech communities, speech events, speech acts and conversation analysis.

This study is centered on a situation discourse meaning that linguistic performance is evaluated in terms of socio-cultural order and language. It is noted that ethnography of speaking (ES) is concerned with finding relations between “language use and local systems of knowledge and social conduct”. The author discusses the goals of the speech, attributes of linguistic code and provides definitions of main terms involved in the discussion of language use.

The author admits that ethnographers of speaking are interested in analyzing language use. The author claims that “the notion of language use is strictly related to the view of sociolinguistics as merely a different methodology, a different way of obtaining data”.

However, ES define language use as the use of linguistic code in terms of a particular culture or community. The author assumes that unity of language is only illusion and in order to interpret the sign it is necessary to analyze the context. The goals of ES are to establish social identities and relationships, to explain how it is possible to change the world, to provide frames for speech events and act and, finally, to break social and cultural barriers.

It is necessary to notice that ethnographic study wants to describe knowledge required by participants to communicate successfully with each other. Therefore, speaking or not speaking is significant for all human interactions. The process of speaking is, thus, constitutive of reality meaning that speaking “makes something already existing present to the participants or creates something anew”. Finally, the author discusses the role of speaking in shaping people’s life. Why speaking is important for human interactions?

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Works Cited

Duranti, Alessandro. Ethnography of Speaking Towards Linguistics of Praxis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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