Language, Culture, and Interaction

Authored by: Peter Eglin

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415527019
eBook ISBN: 9781315793993
Adobe ISBN: 9781317743187


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This chapter departs from the conventional handbook format by presenting a more or less continuous argument throughout. Instead of a historical survey of positions, issues, and research contributions, these matters are treated in relation to a single question, namely the proper understanding of language, since this has fundamental consequences for what social inquiry into language, culture, and interaction could possibly be like. The error is to abstract language from its uses as if it was a thing independent of them. Making this mistake confounds the understanding of how words mean. ‘Language’, ‘culture’, and ‘interaction’ are, in the first place, words, expressing concepts. ‘Language is an instrument. Its concepts are instruments’ (Wittgenstein 1972: 569; see Lee 1991).

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