D4 "Vocabulary of Social Terms"

Lutz Rzehak

Keywords: sociolinguistics, terminology, semantics, ethnology, cultural history 

The project is aimed at studying the link between society and language within the regional and thematic scope of the Crossroads Asia project with a main focus on Afghanistan. It is based upon the idea that words can be explored as conceptual tools which provide static structures in a long term memory of the speakers of a language. Such concepts are subject to change and variation when the society changes, but a person’s conceptual perspective on life remains influenced or constrained by the conceptual tools provided by his or her native language. In the research a sample of words which can be qualified as social key words in relation to the core ideas of the Crossroads Asia project (migration, conflict, and development) will be defined. The concepts which stand behind these words will be explored by analyzing the use of these words in various fields of communication. The regional and linguistic scope of the project is focused on Afghanistan with Dari-Persian and Pashto as the main languages. Excursuses to neighboring regions (post-soviet Central Asia, Iran, and Pakistan) and other languages like Balochi or Tajik will be included when they are meaningful for the exploration of a particular key word. 

The output of the research project will be a monograph addressed to scholars and to persons with a non-academic interest in that region as well. It will contain an extensive introduction where the idea of understanding social processes through key words of the language/s of the people involved and the criteria for the definition of key words will be explained. Furthermore the monograph will contain studies on the selected key words and the concepts which are usually associated when they are used.