Ward Goodenough (1919-2013), RIP

Ward Goodenough, whose contributions to anthropological linguistics and cognitive anthropology influenced all of us who followed in his footsteps, died a week ago.   You can read his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, or see tributes from Rex at Savage Minds and Mark Liberman at Language Log.   I didn’t know Goodenough, although I do know some of his students, so I’ll let others speak about his influence.   New students in the field will probably never hear of him, alas, except perhaps through his now-famous definition of culture as “the things one needs to know in order to meet the standards of others” (1981: 50).     I’d also direct you to his short monograph, Description and Comparison in Cultural Anthropology (1970), which puts the lie to the notion that comparativists ignored the challenges to comparative methods, or that there was a necessary contradiction between fieldwork and generalization.

Goodenough, Ward Hunt. 1970. Description and comparison in cultural anthropology. Chicago: Aldine.

Goodenough, Ward Hunt. 1981. Culture, language, and society. Menlo Park, Calif: Benjamin/Cummings Pub. Co.
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