Alessandro Duranti (ed.), A companion to linguistic anthropology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004, 2006. Pp. xx, 625. Pb $39.95.
Looked at one way, Duranti's hefty edited volume could be construed as one massive speech act that performatively attempts to crystallize “linguistic anthropology” as a discipline. Twenty-two chapters, many of them written by leading lights in the field, are grouped into four sections: “Speech communities, contact, and variation,” “The performing of language,” “Achieving subjectivities and intersubjectivities through language,” and “The power in language.” Many chapters, however, are so richly conceived their content cross-cuts these groupings. The authors have been charged with crafting an introductory account of their assigned topics, which they do for the most part with success, pitching their arguments to appeal to readers ranging from advanced undergraduates to scholars seeking an entrée into new intellectual territory. The ambitious reader who covers the entire volume can extrapolate a portrait of how the discipline has come into focus over the past three decades or so under the influence of certain key scholars (Susan Gal, Jane Hill, Judith Irvine, Elinor Ochs, Michael Silverstein, and Kathryn Woolard, to name but a few). And all readers will emerge informed about the tools linguistic anthropology offers to understand how selves and social worlds are negotiated through language.