Focal vocabulary


Focal vocabulary

Focal vocabulary is a specialized set of terms and distinctions that is particularly important to a certain group; those with particular focuses of experience or activity. A lexicon, or vocabulary, is a language’s dictionary, its set of names for things, events, and ideas. Lexicon influences people’s perception on things. For example, Eskimos have several distinct words for different types of snow that in English are all called snow(Miller,1999) Most English speakers never noticed the differences between these types of snow and might have trouble seeing them even if someone pointed them out. Eskimos, on the other hand, recognize and think about the differences in snow that English speakers don’t see because our language gives us just one word. Similarly, the Nuer of Sudan have an elaborate vocabulary to describe cattle. The Nuer have dozens of names for cattle because of the cattle’s particular histories, economies, and environments. English speakers can also elaborate their snow and cattle vocabularies when the need arises.

Reference:Miller,B.,(1999). "Cultural Anthropology"(4th. ed.,pg 315). New York: Allyn and Bacon

Roberta Lenkeit "Cultural Anthropology" (3rd. ed.)


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