Lecture 13: UHC Chapter 3 - Language
(October 18 ,2013)
The Nature of Language
*Language hasseveral important characteristics.
-Its meaningsreside in the mindsofpeople,notin words themselves.
-Understanding the rulesoflanguage helpsusunderstand oneanother.
Phonological rules: govern howwordssound when pronounced.
Syntactic rules: govern the structureoflanguage,thewaysinwhich symbolscan
bearranged asopposed to themeaningsofthosesymbols.
Semantic rules: deal with themeaningsofspecificwords,asopposed toits
Pragmatic rules: governhow peopleuse language in everydayinteraction.
The Power of Language
*Beyond simply expressing ideas,languagecan beverypowerful.
-It can shape our attitudes toward thingsand toward oneanother.
The power of language shapestheideasand attitudes.
Naming:ismore than just a simplemeansofidentification.Namesmayshapethe
waysothersthink of us, the waywe viewourselves,and thewayweact between
Credibility: Our speaking styleinfluencesthelistener’sperception. The Dr.Fox
Hypothesis:the reaction of Fox’saudience wasbased more onthe credibility that
arose from hisuse of ‘impressive-soundinglanguage’ thanfromtheideashehad
Status: The power of speechinfluencesthestatusofthespeaker.Accents,choice
of words,speech rate,and theapparent ageofthespeaker allcountsforcreating
a positive or negative impression oftheperson’s status.
Sexism & Racism: It isusuallyeasytofind alternativesfor sexist language.
Firemen may be called firefighters.Policemen maybecalled police officers. The
power of racist languageto shapeattitudeisdifficulttoavoid.Commonly,the
practice of using expressionsisused withoffensetoIndigenouspeoplewithout
even knowing it.
-It can reflectthe way we feel aboutthingsand people.
Feelingsof control,attraction,commitment,responsibility—alltheseand more
are reflected in the waywe uselanguage.
Power:how a speaker feelsabouthisorher degree ofcontrolover asituationmay
reflectthe speaker’sability toinfluence others.Ex.Speakingwithconfidence vs.
speaking with uncertainty.
Affiliation: language can alsobeawayofbuildingand showingsolidarityto
others. Attraction and Interest: socialcustomsdiscourageusfromexpressinglikeor
dislike in many situations.
Sequential Placement: (note that this isnot alwayssignificant)
AlecandJane (where Alecismoreimportant)vs.
JaneandAlec(where Jane ismoreimportant)
Responsibility:language can revealthe speaker’swillingnesstoaccept
responsibility for a message.
‘It’ vs. ‘I’ statements:
It’snotfinished (lessresponsible) vs.
‘You’ vs. ‘I’ statements:
Sometimes Igetangrywhenyou dothat(moreresponsible)
*’I’statementsaremore likelytogenerate positive reactionsfromothers
*’But’cancelseverything thatwentbefore theword.
Doyou think weoughttodothat?(lessresponsible)
Idon’tthink weoughttodo that(moreresponsible)
*Some kindsof language can createunnecessaryproblems.
-It can disrupt relationships,confuseothers,oravoid important information.
Equivocal Language: Equivocalwordshavemore thanone dictionarydefinition.
Some equivocal misunderstandingscan simplybeexposed,however theycan
have serious consequences.
Relative Words: gain their meaningbycomparison.Usingrelativewordswithout
explaining them can lead to communication problems.Ex.‘Cheap’tootherscould
mean ‘expensive’ to you. ‘Warm’tootherscouldmean ‘cold’toyou.‘Easy’to
otherscould mean ‘difficult’ toyou.
Slang: isa language used byagroupofpeoplewhosemembersbelongtoasimilar
co-culture or other group.Thissort oflanguageillustrateshowslangcan beused