COMM 1F90 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Cultural Imperialism
2 pages31 viewsFall 2018
Course CodeCOMM 1F90
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October 2nd, 2018
Chapter Four: Language & Social
Construction of Reality
Language is the central medium used for the understanding, interpretation and construction of
reality. It is necessary to consider the nature of language and the relationship it has to the world.!
•Language constructs our identity, but there is still a question of if language fully determines our thinking or if
it merely inﬂuences it. Inﬂuencing it allows for individuals to obtain autonomy. Names are an example of
constructed identities because it makes each person think of themselves in a particular way (heritage,
previous experiences, religion, etc.)!
•The whole process of language is a naming or labelling process that carries profound social and political
implications. There are several ways to say the same thing in diﬀerent discourses that could, be viewed in
1. Human societies organize and structure the world in particular ways!
2. In so doing, they construct the world and they construct reality.!
3. This reality tends to become normalized and naturalized so that it is taken for granted by the people in that
4. We tend to forget that reality has been constructed and that it could be organized diﬀerently!
5. We learn about the world primarily through language; thus language is crucial both in this construction and
in the transmission of this construction to others.!
World & Language Relationship Theories
• Reﬂective or mimetic. Suggests that language simply describes the world, that it is a method used to
name and describe what already exists. All humans see the world in the same way and share the same
• Constructionist: Suggests that language does’t describe a pre-existing world. Rather, it constructs the
world through naming it and constructs the concepts through which we understand life & the world.
Different languages represent the world in different ways. Our experiences of the world take form only
when presented through language.
Language is not natural or neutral, but is a site of power, struggle and social change!
Language is not natural
It does not simply name the world as it exists, but also constructs a view of the world. One of the deﬁning
qualities of what it means to be human is an innate capacity for language (this is not what is meant by it is
unnatural). There is no normal, right, correct set of words, or way of speaking that describes the world. !
Some believe that language is arbitrary, meaning that there is no necessary connection between the sounds
and symbols that make up any language. There are numerous languages that describe the world with their own
particular inﬂections and biases. Some cultures use totally diﬀerent letters, sounds & words to communicate.
Simply put, language is acquired and is a learned skill.!
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