Table of contents

Linguistic anthropologists examine the relationships between language, culture, and society.

A promotional image for the SAPIENS podcast episode "Moving Through Deaf Worlds" from season 7, episode 4, titled "Cultures of Technology." The image features a woman holding a map and gesturing while speaking to another person, highlighting the show's exploration of human experiences and cultures.

Moving Through Deaf Worlds

An anthropologist sets out to better understand the experience of a deaf migrant.
Dark gray clouds hang in a pale blue sky. With orange light shining from behind them, these clouds seem to touch dark rolling hills scattered with trees and buildings.

Speaking in Tongues

A scholar from Nagaland in India offers visceral, familial insights on language and culture loss in her Indigenous tribal community.
A close-up image features a circular street sign with random black symbols such as an exclamation mark and hashtag and a red circle and strikethrough over them.

Why I Ask My Students to Swear in Class

An anthropologist uses explicit insults to get students thinking about gender and power in everyday language. Plus, a brief explainer on the slang term “sus.”
A picture features a sky with a large, slightly orange, billowing cloud at its center that morphs on its left side to look like the side profile of dark-skinned woman’s face. To the left of her is a bright-blue sky with clouds.

Indigenizing What It Means to be Human

SAPIENS offers a curated collection of poems and stories that center Indigenous values, worldviews, and insights, creatively reimagining anthropology and the human experience.
From an aerial perspective, a photograph features a large circular garden with green shrubs crisply pruned into arc shapes oriented to form a maze. A gazebo topped with similar greenery sits at the maze’s center.

Best of SAPIENS 2022

In a year of continuing global conflagrations, anthropologists investigated a wide range of pressing and curious questions about humanity’s past, present, and future. Here are the editors’ picks for this year's most compelling contributions.
A photograph features five people in colorful clothing standing on cement tiles in front of tall trees and green grass.

How a Song Bridged Diné and Ndebele Worlds

An anthropologist recounts a magical moment of songwriting collaboration between Diné (Navajo) and Ndebele artists gathered for the WOMAD Festival in South Africa.
A crowd faces a large outdoor screen showing video of a nuclear missile launching into a blue sky. Several buses are visible in the background.

What Commentators Get Wrong (and Right) About North Korea

An anthropologist argues that unfair portrayals of North Korea as a hopelessly irrational hermit state has huge implications for policy and security.
A photograph features two people smiling and holding chopsticks. Surrounded by sunlight, they sit side-by-side at an outdoor table with plates, pots, and plastic cups on it.

What Is Linguistic Anthropology?

Linguistic anthropologists study language in context, revealing how people’s ways of communicating and expressing themselves interact with human culture, history, politics, identity, and much more.
A black-and-white photograph features the head of a person with patterned face paint and a large headpiece adorned with feathers.

The Aztec Antichrist Chronicles Indigenous Resistance and Religious Conversion

An exceedingly rare notebook from 16th-century Mexico contains plays about the Antichrist told by the Aztecs’ descendants. An anthropologist recounts his rediscovery of the notebook and explains the plays’ unique insights into Indigenous Christianity.
A black-and-white photograph features a stone carving that resembles a person’s face inside of a glass box display.

Aztec Antichrist: A Performance of the Apocalypse

A 16th-century play written by the descendants of the Aztecs after the Spanish conquest dramatically reveals Indigenous people’s responses to their religious conversion.
Three human researchers surround a white robot with a screen on its chest. The robot looks up to meet the gaze of one of the researchers.

Why AI Will Never Fully Capture Human Language

Researchers in artificial intelligence have made extraordinary strides in mimicking human language—but they still can’t capture the parts that truly make language human.
The photograph features a person with a hearing aid sitting next to a person smiling on a couch. They face each other and communicate using sign language.

How Deaf and Hearing Friends Co-Navigate the World

For deaf people in the U.S., accessibility has become synonymous with provisioning professional sign language interpreters. But in everyday life, deaf people’s experiences of “access” often include more informal language facilitation such as “friendterpreting.”
A red bus is parked under a digital street sign that reads “via downtown” and two smaller street signs, each written in a different language.

What Klingon and Other Constructed Languages Reveal

Meet Christine Schreyer, a linguistic anthropologist who created the Kryptonian language for a Superman movie and researches the people who invent new tongues and seek to sustain ancient ones.
A black script is shown on sepia tone paper with a tear at the top.

What the Vai Script Reveals About the Evolution of Writing

In the 19th century, a man living in present-day Liberia dreamed of the first script for his native Vai language. Today linguistic anthropologists are digging into the script’s evolution—and what the changes over the past two centuries reveal about human cognition and society.
Una persona se para afuera bajo un cielo estrellado azul oscuro y mira la pantalla brillante de su teléfono celular. Una luz amarilla brilla en la distancia.

¿Qué es la revista SAPIENS?

Lanzada en 2016, la revista SAPIENS acerca la antropología al público a través de historias accesibles, que invitan a la reflexión y que son entretenidas.
A person stands outside under a dark-blue, starry sky and looks at the bright screen of their cellphone. A yellow light shines in the distance.

What Is SAPIENS Magazine?

Launched in 2016, SAPIENS magazine brings anthropology to the public through accessible, thought-provoking, and entertaining stories.
A person wearing a pink shirt and a light-pink hijab stands in a dark space with their face illuminated while pointing to images of data on a large screen.

Does Green on COVID-19 Maps Mean What You Think?

COVID-19 “heat maps” are intended to help the public evaluate health risks during the pandemic. But the guidelines the CDC and other institutions use to create these maps can lead to confusion. Two linguistic anthropologists help make sense of what these maps really mean.
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What Is Anthropology?

The broad field of anthropology is the science of humanity that studies “everything human,” focusing on what makes different people human in their own distinctive ways.
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How to Promote Research on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for researchers to share their work and engage an array of audiences. Here are the basics to get started.
The flag of Ukraine, a blue stripe with a yellow stripe below, waves in front of a blue sky.

The Politics of “Ukraine” Versus “the Ukraine”

In Russian, the difference between the terms “Ukraine” and “the Ukraine” is not just descriptive or geographical.
China Journalism

How to Write an Op-Ed: A SAPIENS Workshop

In this online webinar, SAPIENS Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell explains the ins-and-outs of writing op-eds or opinion essays for the magazine and its peer publications.
A person with a shaved head wearing a grey long-sleeved shirt holds a black, purple, white, and yellow striped flag over their head.

Why English Might Let Go of “He” and “She”

A linguistic anthropologist invites English-speaking cisgendered allies to stop using “she” and “he” to advance radical gender inclusion.
A black stuffed figure with large eyes and a wide mouth wearing a black hat lies beside a black, white, and yellow comic book on a dark wooden table.

Can Indigenous Language Comics Save a Mother Tongue?

Publishers and researchers are creating graphic publications to help stem the loss of Hñäñho, spoken by the Ñäñho people.
A black stuffed figure with large eyes and a wide mouth wearing a black hat lies beside a black, white, and yellow comic book on a dark wooden table.

¿Pueden los cómics en idiomas indígenas salvar una lengua materna?

Editores e investigadores están creando publicaciones gráficas para ayudar a detener la pérdida del hñäñho, hablado por el pueblo ñäñho.
A painting of five framed portraits on a wall and young children in color interacting with older people who are black and white.

Five Questions About Writing the African Diaspora

In this free live event, anthropologist and SAPIENS poet-in-residence Justin Wright, answers five questions about the African Diaspora poetry and prose project.
An illustration shows two people putting together colored puzzle pieces.

How to Work With a Developmental Editor

Writing for SAPIENS and similar magazines involves close collaboration with developmental editors. Here’s how the process works—and what you can do to make the partnership as fruitful as possible.

Do You Want to Write for SAPIENS?

A free online webinar by SAPIENS Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell to learn about how to write for the magazine and its peer publications.
Masanori Murakami, who debuted in 1964, was the first Japanese player in Major League Baseball.

How to Pitch: A Guide for Anthropologists

To write for SAPIENS and most popular magazines and newspapers, writers must “pitch” their idea to editors. Here is how the process works.
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Why Write for SAPIENS?

SAPIENS magazine publishes on anthropological research, discoveries, and insights. If you’re an anthropologist, here’s why you might consider contributing your story.
Tayap - “Transition” by Papua New Guinean artist Philemon Yalamu.

What’s Left Unsaid When a Language Dies

Deep in Papua New Guinea, the speakers of Tayap have stopped using their native tongue. In A Death in the Rainforest, an anthropologist recounts his journey over three decades to find out why.
nonverbal communication online

Why Do Virtual Meetings Feel So Weird?

Even as online meetings become more common, they can’t always capture the nuances of nonverbal communication and in-person interactions.
how to write anthropology essay

How to Write an Essay: A Guide for Anthropologists

Writing about anthropology for a general audience is different from writing for academics. Some simple tips can help.