Creating and Responding to Messages
I do believe the concepts of language being rule governed and precision and vagueness are the most important of concepts in regard to language. Language is rule governed; whiskey makes you sick when you’re well. Whiskey, when you are sick, makes you well(143). Precision and vagueness; “teacher strikes idle kids” could mean teachers have gone on strike leaving kids idle or a teacher has spanked an idle kid (155). The same words are used yet they have different meanings due to the rules of punctuation and sentence formation. I once had an argument with a pilot friend of mine when they were on strike over working hours and he said, Pilots whose minds are dull won't last long. Pilots, whose minds are dull, won't last long. Could mean pilots have dull minds and wont lost long or could mean pilots whose minds become dulled cannot last long. Another time I was involved in trying to resolve a dispute between two of my friends who were in a dating relationship and they were arguing using the sentence, “A woman without her, man is nothing and a woman without her man is nothing”. The sentence is vague unless the correct stress and intonation is placed on certain words to portray a certain meaning. The two of them were making use of different stress and intonation in order to portray the two different meanings for the sentence.
I abuse languages in a range of situation and in many instances due to lack of understanding of the concepts underlying language. One of the most common ways in which I have abused language is in the use of sexism and racism. Sexist language includes words, phrase and expressions that unnecessarily differentiate between the sexes in a manner that trivializes, excludes or diminishes one sex (151). I have abused the sexual nature of some phrases and words in language since the culture of our society makes it hard to make a clear distinction of these words by making them seem common and ordinary. For instance there exists the term working mother in our culture yet working father does not exist due to the assumption that a father will always be working and a working mother is unusual. Such a stereotype may result into stigma for the woman involved. I have abused language by using sexist language since I have been influenced by the culture. There was a time I used the term chairman in our group discussion and the chair was not very happy with it though no malice was intended in my use of the word. By making use of the word chairman, the lady thought I was trivializing her sex and asked me to use the term chairlady. However, I did not agree and asserted that I believed the correct term was “chair” which is a more neutral term as opposed to chairman and chairlady. I made a commitment to myself to try to use more neutral words in order to avoid such scenarios. While I believe the term chairman was misinterpreted, I believe, we all ought to use neutral words such as chair for the sake of harmony.
Language is symbolic: Why are there common depictions of symbols such as five fingers representing five, While language may develop symbols independently, why do they all have common aspects for instance the commonality of the term mama in many unrelated languages.
Language is rule governed: Isn’t the subjectivity of language in a clash with the rules of language? If language is governed by rules, do the same rules apply to all languages?
Language is subjective: Is the subjectivity of language a mere simplification of language? If meanings are in people what is the role of definitions of words?
Language and worldview: Why do people speaking different languages have different worldviews? Why are there parallels in worldviews for people of different languages for instance in subjects such as philosophy?
Naming and identity: Is naming a function of sociology rather than psychology? What is the difference between an unusual and a distinctive name?
Affiliation: How can the use of negative affiliation for instance by lovers be explained? Is affiliation a function of sociology or language?
Power: are power paradigms a reflection of the hypocrisy of the society? Isn’t it more appropriate to use language without ascribing power to statement but just in its pure form?
Sexism and racism: Is language really to blame for instances for sexist or racist expression? Isn’t the elimination of some words from the language lexicon an impoverization of the language?
Precision and vagueness: Does there exist intentional vagueness in some statements uttered? Is there any utility in the use of abstraction and vagueness in communication?
Responsibility: Isnt responsibility going against the rule of subjectiveness of language? Isn’t it true that some irresponsible language is actually meant to make others uncomfortable?
Disruptive language: Isn’t the concept of disruptive language simply a function of sociology? Is disruptive language a function of education and intelligence?
Gender differences: Is classifying language into genders reducing language from a universal symbol paradigm? Are gender differences in language being eroded by changing roles in contemporary society?
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