Language And Social Class In Demirciler

1427 words - 6 pages

In the Life in a Turkish Village, Joe E. Pierce discusses the culture of the village, Demirciler, located in Turkey. He studies the social structure, the religious practices, the political system, and other aspects of this village’s culture. In his ethnography, Pierce expounds on the societal segregation of the men and women and its translation into social class. While the separation of both genders is prominent in the societal practices, it is also reflected in their native tongue. To demonstrate the relationship between language and social class, I will analyze and review how the Turkish language of Demirciler is a linguistic representation of the social structure with a thorough ...view middle of the document...

Reviewing these customs, it is clear that men hold a greater authority than women. However, this authority is not only defined by gender, but age as well. Pierce shares a story that further exemplifies the gender and age stratification of men and women in this village.
Pierce and his wife were invited to eat with a few citizens from the village. The women, along with the young boys, were preparing the food while Pierce, his wife, and his male hosts sat in a shaded spot and waited. When the meal was ready, the women and young boys served Pierce first for he was a guest. Next, his wife was served. Interestingly enough, Pierce’s wife was treated like a man during this particular event because the hosts were unaware of how to treat foreign women. After Pierce and his wife were served, the other males were served with the oldest attended to first. After all the males had received enough food and finished eating, the women and young boys received their share of the meal. Pierce makes an important note that while the women ate their food, they sat on the ground a distance away from the Pierce, his wife, and their male hosts who sat on carpets. In his ethnography, Pierce makes more observations that exposes the social rankings based on age. He inspects the process and customs and rituals of communal activities and gatherings. The older guests are positioned on raised seats while the younger members would sit down on the ground. When receiving the food, the older citizens were served first. To summarize the preceding information, the events Pierce participated in clearly depicts the authorial and social advantage men have over women. This scenario visually captures the separation of men in women in their duties and social standing. We can also see that those of an older age are categorized in a higher social class which allows them to acquire authority to order younger village members. These encounters and observations implements a better understanding of the social class and roles of men and women, and will aid in the analysis of the Turkish language and how it reflects the segregation of men and women.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that language is a manifestation that shapes one’s experience in the world and how they behave in it. This hypothesis can be applied to the native tongue of Demirciler. In the Turkish language, Pierce notes, “Men and women are labeled differently for relatives older than ego, but not for those younger” (Pierce 81). Ego’s uncles of his father’s lineage are referred to as amca and Ego’s aunts of his father’s lineage are referred to as hala. Ego’s uncles of his mother’s lineage are called dayz, while aunt’s on his mother’s side are called teyze (Pierce 80). Ego’s grandfathers are both referred to as dede and his grandmothers are both called ebe. Because these kin terms individually identify the male and female members of the family readers gain insight into the citizens’ perspective and can comprehend their view on the...

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