Language in Culture
The Semiotics of Interaction
This book offers a rich assortment of some of Michael Silverstein's most important lectures at the University of Chicago over the past forty years, all of which converge on theoretical issues involved in the semiotic, cognitive, and sociopolitical study of language and communication. Together they provide an overdue home to an impressive body of thought that has otherwise only been available via unofficial distribution – in hand-written notes, audio recordings, and other media – by longtime fans and students. Developing and employing semiotic concepts, these lectures concentrate on two central and inverse problems. The first is to understand how interpersonal communication is carried in and by the medium of language. The second is to understand how language is a defining factor in conceptual representations and mental knowledge. Exploring the diversity of sources of knowledge and the many forms of language they can be coded into, Silverstein details the modes of semiosis of which language is composed, in particular those that express cultural knowledge and conceptualization. A sophisticated study of language as a form of interaction, these lectures offer one of the most important contributions to linguistics and anthropological semiotics since Ferdinand de Saussure.
Michael Silverstein is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology, of Linguistics, and of Psychology in the Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of many books, most recently "Creatures of Politics".