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Discovering Cultural Models from the Analysis of Discourse - Essay Example

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In her book “Finding Culture in Talk”, Naomi Quinn (describes chunks as cognitive structures we use to remember complex ideas, which are linked to longer explanations. One of my earliest remembered examples of this is “Catch-22”. Many people in English speaking countries…
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Discovering Cultural Models from the Analysis of Discourse
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Download file to see previous pages Members of any given culture create chunks of meaning, like the above, and use them in discourse. Finding, identifying and describing these cultural “chunks” is the purview of the ethnographer. Quinn searched for metaphors to identify cultural chunks. This eliminated a lot of processing, because almost all the sentences which contain metaphors have cultural models. Quinn used the same information in the models to verify the model. That is, the causal relationship between the model and its concepts will verify that it is a cultural model. To confirm this one only needs to talk with two or more informant about the model and verify that they use it in the same way and understand that it contains the same causal relationship and concepts. For example, saying that the bride could not wear white in the twentieth century western English speaking world meant that a woman had been married before or was not a virgin. People today still understand this concept, even though the significance has vanished. Further, discourse transcripts can be used to identify the cultural models by identifying the causal relationship to the concepts. So a person using the previous phrase can be assumed to be a member of a culture which uses or used this model.
Verifying requires that all alternatives be eliminated. Quinn uses the example of a watch in a box, which can be identified by opening the box and looking. Shaking the box is not enough, because it could be something else. However, if one could hear the ticking by placing the ear on the box, one might assume it is a watch quite safely, using the strong probability. Of course this only works with a watch which ticks. However, one should then corroborate it by looking in the box, or asking the person who has looked or who put it there if it is a watch. The most basic linguistic concepts seem to be universal: ideas like want, need, see, hear, think, know and feel. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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