Malinowski’s last word on the anthropological approach to language

Michael W. Young


This article reproduces an archived and previously unpublished paper by Bronislaw Malinowski entitled “The anthropological approach to language” which he delivered to a meeting of the elite Monday Night Group in the Institute of Human Relations at Yale University in November 1941. The social “context of situation” of Malinowski’s seminar presentation is reconstructed together with a brief consideration of his contribution to linguistic theory. A commentary on his paper refers to Malinowski’s relationship with several of his peers, including discussion of the critical reception given to the second volume of his last monograph on the Trobriand Islands, Coral Gardens and their Magic. Finally, the “biographical context of situation” describes Malinowski’s lethally busy schedule six months before his death, referring to his other public presentations during the months of October and November 1941.

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