SPCOM100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Social Philosophy, Linguistics, Personal Pronoun

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Chapter 5: Language
Nature of Language
1. Language is symbolic: words are arbitrary symbols that have no meaning in themselves
oThis form of communication is not literal
- Language is governed by rules: symbol-laden rules work b/c people agree how to use them
Phonological rules – governs how sounds are combined to form words
oExample: words like champagne, double and occasion are spelled the same in French
but pronounced differently
Syntactic Rules – governs the way symbols can be arranged (like punctuation or tone)
oExample: Whisky makes you sick when you’re will vs. Whisky, when you’re sick, makes
you well.
oHardly able to describe this rule but we notice how odd the statement is
Semantic Rules – governs the meaning of statements
oThe ways which speakers of a language respond
oAlthough it helps us understand the meaning of individual words, it doesn’t explain how
language operates in everyday life
oExample: Let’s get together tomorrow could mean “I hope we can get together”, “I
want to see you,” or “I don’t really mean it”
Pragmatic Rules - tell us what uses and interpretations of a message are reasonable
oDepends on content (words), speech act (intent), relational contract (relationship),
episode (situation), life script (how you see them), cultural archetype (cultural norms)
oExample: boss vs. significant other when they say: “I want to see you!”
2. Language is Subjective: attaching different meanings to the same message
-Meaning is both in and among people
3. Language is linked to Worldview: people who speak different languages organize and view their
worlds differently
-Example: Aboriginals don’t have spatial terms like left, right, back, forward in their language
-They use compass directions like east, west, south, north
Linguistic Relativism - language exerts a strong influence on perceptions
oExample: People who switch from English to French tend to speak differently
Nature of Language
1. Naming and Identity
-Names are more than just a simple means of identification – it shapes the way others think
of us, the way we view ourselves and the way we act
-Names are one way parents can steep their child in a family’s cultural heritage
-Taking your husband’s last name
2. Credibility and Status
-The words we use and how we pronounce them have a strong influence
-People believed they would be respected more if they knew English very well
3. Affiliation, Attraction and Interest
-Speech can also be a way of building and showing solidarity with others
Convergence – the process of adapting one’s speech style to that of others with whom the
communicator wants to identify
-People who want to show affiliation adapt their speech in different ways
Divergence – process of adapting one’s speech in ways that emphasize differences
between the speaker and others from whom the speaker wants to distance him- or herself
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