312 pages, 6 x 9
2 tables
Release Date:13 Nov 2018

Naming the World

Language and Power Among the Northern Arapaho

The University of Arizona Press
Naming the World examines language shift among the Northern Arapaho of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, and the community’s diverse responses as it seeks social continuity. Andrew Cowell argues that, rather than a single “Arapaho culture,” we find five distinctive communities of practice on the reservation, each with differing perspectives on social and more-than-human power and the human relationships that enact power.

As the Arapaho people resist Euro-American assimilation or domination, the Arapaho language and the idea that the language is sacred are key rallying points—but also key points of contestation. Cowell finds that while many at Wind River see the language as crucial for maintaining access to more-than-human power, others primarily view the language in terms of peer-oriented identities as Arapaho, Indian, or non-White. These different views lead to quite different language usage and attitudes in relation to place naming, personal naming, cultural metaphors, new word formation, and the understudied practice of folk etymology.

Cowell presents data from conversations and other natural discourse to show the diversity of everyday speech and attitudes, and he links these data to broader debates at Wind River and globally about the future organization of indigenous societies and the nature of Arapaho and indigenous identity.
Cowell humanizes and historicizes his subject with stories, conversations, irony, puns, and play.”—Choice

“In Naming the World readers will find a treasure trove of linguistic analysis blended with transcribed speech that will prove to be beneficial to Algonquian scholars and students of Arapaho alike”—Transmotion

“This thoroughly researched book gives new insight into the relationship between language and culture, with special focus on traditional ideology behind naming, place-names, neologism, and metaphor in Arapaho cultures, presenting indigenous perspectives in the Arapaho language.”—Margaret C. Field, Department of American Indian Studies, San Diego State University

“Cowell offers up a rarity: an accessible, linguistics-focused account of language teaching, learning, and change in a Native American community. With this book, he has seized upon subject matter for which rigorous linguistic description and community-driven conversations converge and cross-fertilize.”—M. Eleanor Nevins, Department of Anthropology, Middlebury College
Andrew Cowell is a professor of linguistic anthropology at the University of Colorado. His work focuses on language shift, documentation, maintenance, and revitalization, as well as topics in discourse, conversation, identity, and language ideology. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Arapaho Language.
Abbreviations and Symbols

Introduction. An Ethnography of Language Shift Among the Northern Arapaho
1. Northern Arapaho History and Communities of Practice
2. Cultural Metaphors and the Indigenous Discourse of Language Endangerment
3. Ethnogeography Through Time: Names and Power in the Landscape
4. Personal Names and Naming
5. Folk Etymology and Language Purism
6. Neologisms and the Politics of Language Maintenance
Conclusion. Communities of Practice: A Linguistic Summary

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