Ethnography of speaking

Kristine L. FitchGerry Philipsen
Table of contents

The ethnography of speaking is concerned with describing ways of speaking, as they construct and reflect social life within particular speech communities. It is concerned further with developing cross-culturally valid concepts and theories for interpreting and explaining the interaction of language and social life. The object of study within this tradition is situated discourse: how speaking is organized and conceptualized within a given community. ‘Ethnography’ refers to fieldwork, supplemented by techniques developed in other areas of study (notably conversation analysis, history, and pragmatics), which produces a written description of the way of life of a group of people. Its focus is on the observed patterns of speaking, and the symbols and meanings, premises, and rules applied to speaking within a given community.

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