Over the past two decades, William Hanks has explored the dynamics of verbal interaction, and how speakers and listeners make meaning through language. With equal commitment to theory and empirical description, Hanks' writings combine analyses of linguistic form, speech processes, and sociocultural context. His work is marked by a commitment to interdisciplinary research, starting with his joint training in linguistics and anthropology, and increasingly integrating elements from philosophy, literary theory, and history. This book brings together papers written over the last decade, organized around the three central themes that have been emerged in Hanks' work: indexicality and referential practices; discourse genres and textuality; and the historical embeddedness of language. Together, they present the main elements of a coherent, synthetic approach to language in context. The linguistic, ethnographic, and historical material through which Hanks argues his approach come from his field research among maya speakers in Yucatan, Mexico, and from archival work on the historical development of Maya discourse under Spanish colonial rule. Several of the papers originally appeared in journals and edited volumes abroad and appear here for the first time in English.
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