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Language: Barrier and bridge. Chapter topics. Language is Symbolic Understandings and Misunderstandings The Impact of Language Gender and Language Culture and Language. Language is Symbolic. The Natural World Smoke means something is burning A fever means someone is ill

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Language barrier and bridge l.jpg

Language:Barrier and bridge

Chapter topics

  • Language is Symbolic

  • Understandings and Misunderstandings

  • The Impact of Language

  • Gender and Language

  • Culture and Language


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Language is Symbolic

  • The Natural World

    • Smoke means something is burning

    • A fever means someone is ill

  • Language is Symbolic

    • Connectionbetween words and the ideas or things they represent is arbitrary


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Understanding and Misunderstanding

  • Understanding Words

    • Semantic rules

      • “Bikes” are for riding and “books” are for reading

    • Equivocation

      • Statements that have more then one commonly accepted definition

      • Newspaper Headlines:

        • “Family catches fire just in time.”

        • “20-year friendship ends at the altar.”

        • “Trees can break wind.”


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Understanding and Misunderstanding

  • Relative Language

    • Words that gain their meaning by comparison

      • Do you attend a large or small school?

      • Fast and slow

      • Smart and stupid

      • Short and long

  • Static Evaluation

    • Statements that contain or imply the word is lead to mistaken assumptions about people


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Understandings and Misunderstandings

  • Abstraction

    • Is vague in nature

    • Behavior language is specific to things people do or say

  • Abstraction Ladder

    • Abstract language can lead to miscommunication

Figure 5.1 Page 165


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Understandings and Misunderstandings

  • Syntactic Rules

    • Govern the grammar of language

  • Pragmatic Rules

    • Govern the way speech works in everyday interaction

    • Consider the difference between:

      • I love you

      • I love ya

      • I luv U


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Understandings and Misunderstandings

  • Pragmatic Rules

    • What do infer by the following sentences?

      • “Would you like a drink?”

      • “Would you like something to drink?”

    • Pragmatic Rules of Email

      • When reading an email what do you think when you come across CAPITAL LETTERS!


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The Impact of Language

  • Naming and Identity

    • Names are more than just a simple means of identification

    • They shape the way others think of us

    • They shape the way we view ourselves

    • 1900’s most popular names

      • Bertha, Mildred and Ethel

    • 2008’s most popular names

      • Madison, Ava and Chloe


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The Impact of Language

  • Affiliation

    • Speech can build and demonstrate solidarity with others

    • Convergence

      • The process of adapting one’s speech style to match others

    • Divergence

      • Speaking in a way that emphasizes one’s differences from others


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The Impact of Language

  • Power

    • Power difference between two statements:

      • “Excuse me, sir. I hate to say this, but I . . .I . . .I guess I won’t be able to turn in the assignment on time. I had a personal emergency, and . . .well . . .it was just impossible to finish it by today. I’ll have it on your desk Monday, OK?”

      • “I won’t be able to turn in the assignment on time. I had a personal emergency, and it was impossible to finish by today. I’ll have it on your desk Monday.”


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The Impact of Language

  • Powerless Language

  • Hedges:

    • “I’m kinda disappointed . . .” “I think we should . . .” “I guess I’d like to . . .”

  • Hesitations:

    • “Uh, can I have a minute of your time?”

    • “Well, we could try this idea . . .”

    • “I wish you would—er—try to be on time.”

  • Tag questions:

    • “It’s about time we got started, isn’t it?”

    • “Don’t you think we should give it another try?”


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The Impact of Language

  • Disruptive Language

  • Three linguistic habits to avoid

  • Fact-Opinion Confusion

    FactOpinion

    You forgot my birthday.You don’t care about me.

    You keep interrupting me.You’re a control freak.

    You tell a lot of ethnic jokes. You’re a bigot.


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The Impact of Language

  • Disruptive Language

    • Fact-interference confusion

      • A: Why are you mad at me?

      • B: I’m not mad at you. Why have you been so insecure lately?

      • A: I’m not insecure. It’s just that you've been so critical.

      • B: What do you mean, “critical?” I haven’t been critical. . . .


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The Impact of Language

  • Disruptive Language

  • Emotive Language

    • Seems to describe something but actually announces the speakers attitude toward it

      If you approve, sayIf you disapprove, say

      ThriftyCheap

      TraditionalOld-fashioned

      ExtrovertLoudmouth

      CautiousCowardly


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • “It” Statements

    • Note the difference in each set of sentences:

      • “It bothers me when you’re late.”

      • “I’m worried when you’re late.”

      • “It’s nice to see you.”

      • “I’m glad to see you.”

      • “It’s a boring class.”

      • “I’m bored in the class.”


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • “But” Statements

    • In each sentence the word but cancels the thought that precedes it:

      • “You’re really a great person, but I think we should see other people.”

      • “You’ve done good work for us, but we’re going to have to let you go.”

      • “This paper has some good ideas, but I’m giving you a D grade because it’s late.”


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • Questions

    • Some questions are used to avoid making a declaration

      • “What are we having for dinner?” Could mean, “I want to eat out.”

      • “How many textbooks are assigned in that class?” Could mean, “I’m afraid to get into a class with too much reading.”


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • “I” and “You” Language

    • “I” statements accept responsibility for a message

    • “You” statements express judgment

      • “You left this place a mess!”

      • “You didn’t keep your promise!”

      • “You’re really crude sometimes!”


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • “I” and “You” Language

    • An “I” statement has four elements:

      • The person’s behavior

      • Your interpretations

      • Your feelings

      • The consequences that the other person’s behavior has for you


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • “I” and “You” Language

  • Example:

    • “I get embarrassed (feeling) when you talk about my bad grades in front of our friends (behavior). I’m afraid they’ll think I’m stupid (interpretation). That’s why I got so worked up last night (consequence).”


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • Reservations about “I” language

    • “I get too angry to use ‘I’ language”

    • “Even with ‘I’ language, the other person gets defensive”

    • “ ‘I’ language sounds artificial”


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The Impact of Language

  • Language of Responsibility

  • “We” Language

    • Implies the issue is the concern of both parties

      • “We need to figure out a budget that doesn’t bankrupt us.”

      • “I think we have a problem. We can’t seem to talk about money without fighting.”


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Gender and Language

  • Content

    • Female friends spent more time discussing:

      • Relationship problems, family, health

    • Male friends spent more time discussing:

      • Current events, music, sports, business

    • Consider the gender’s impact on language:

      • “I want to talk about important things, like how we’re getting along. All he wants to do talk about the news or what we’ll do this weekend.”


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Gender and Language

  • Conversation Style

    • The myth that women are more talkative than men does not hold up under scientific scrutiny

    • Men’s speech is characteristically:

      • More direct, succinct, and task-oriented

    • Women’s speech is more typically:

      • indirect, elaborate, and focused on relationships


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Gender and Language

  • Nongender Variables

    • The link between gender and language isn’t as clear-cut as it might seem

    • The language between sexes is more similar than it is different.

      • One scholar suggested that the popular book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” should be changed to “Men Are from North Dakota, Women Are from South Dakota.”


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Culture and Language

  • Verbal Communication Styles

    • Low-context cultures

      • Generally value language to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas as directly as possible.

    • High-context cultures

      • Generally value using language to maintain social harmony.

      • Learn to discover meaning from the context in which a message is delivered: nonverbal behaviors, history of the relationship, etc


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Culture and Language

  • Verbal Communication Styles

    • Language and Worldview

      • Linguistic relativism

        • The worldview of a culture is shaped and reflected by the language its members speak.

        • The Eskimos have a large number of words for snow


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Chapter Review

  • Language is Symbolic

  • Understandings and Misunderstandings

  • The Impact of Language

  • Gender and Language

  • Culture and Language


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