Words are Symbols • Arbitrary—they are not intrinsically connected to what they represent • Ambiguous—their meanings are not clear cut or fixed • Abstract—they are not concrete or tangible
Language and Culture Reflect Each Other • Language and cultural life are intricately interconnected. • Communication reflects cultural values and perspectives. • As we learn language we also learn the values, perspectives, and beliefs of our culture. • The language we learn shapes how we categorize the world. • Communication changes culture.
Meanings of Language are Subjective • Meanings are never self-evident or absolute. • We construct meaning in the process of interacting and through thought. • Because symbols require interpretation, communication is an ongoing process of creating meanings.
Language Use is Rule-Guided Communication rules are shared understandings of what communication means and what behaviors are appropriate in various situations.
Regulative Rules 1.Regulative Rules regulate interaction by specifying when, how, where, and with whom to talk about certain things. • When is it appropriate to show affection or disclose private information? • When is it appropriate to interrupt? • With whom do you talk about personal issues? • With whom do you talk about money issues?
Constitutive Rules 2.Constitutive Rules define how certain communicative acts are to be interpreted. • Affection (hugs and kisses) • Rudeness (interrupting) • Respect (paying attention) • Professionalism (dressing well, working overtime) • Responsible employee (meeting deadlines, being on time for work) • Commitment to the family (eating meals together)
Punctuation of Language Shapes Meaning • Punctuation defines beginnings and endings of interaction episodes. • When we don’t agree on punctuation problems may arise.
The Demand-Withdraw Pattern of Punctuation I withdraw because you pursue me. I pursue because you withdraw. I pursue harder because you withdraw further. I am withdrawing more because you are pursuing harder.
Symbols Define • Labels shape perception. • Language reflects our subjective opinion and shapes and fixes our perception. • The labels we apply to people shape how we evaluate and respond to them. • Labels can totalize when we respond to a person as if one label totally represents who he or she is.
Symbols Define • Labels affect relationships. • The language we use to think about relationships affects what happens in them. • People who use negative labels to describe their relationships heighten what is wrong. • Partners who focus on good facets are more conscious of virtues in partners. • Definitions can create self-fulfilling prophecies. Once we select a label we tend to see the experience in line with our label.
Symbols Evaluate • Values in language reflect and shape perceptions. “casual” “messy” “slob” “assertive” “aggressive” “bully” • Loaded language strongly slants perceptions. Rush Limbaugh’s “feminazi” instead of “feminist” “geezer” or “old fogies” rather than “senior citizen”
Symbols Evaluate • Language can degrade others. • Hate speech radically dehumanizes others. • Language is powerful. • Each of us has an ethical responsibility to guard against engaging in uncivil speech as well as not tolerating it from others.
Organization of symbols allows us to think about abstract concepts such as justice, integrity, and good family life. Abstracting can distort our thinking by stereotyping whole classes of people in a generalization. Symbols Organize Perceptions We have to generalize to organize our thoughts. But we must reflect on stereotypes and be alert to differences among people.
Symbols Allow Hypothetical Thought • We can think beyond immediate, concrete situations. • We live in three dimensions of time. • In the present, we remember the past and plan for the future. • Personal growth requires that we remember an earlier time, appreciate progress, and keep an ideal for the future.
Symbols Allow Self-Reflection • There are two aspects to self—the I and the ME. (Mead) • The I acts and the ME reflects and analyzes the I’s actions. ME is the critic, analyst, social conscious. I is the performer, doer, actor.
Symbols Allow Self-Reflection • Self-reflection allows us to monitor communication. • Self-reflection allows us to manage our image.
Engage in Dual Perspective • Recognize another person’s point of view and take it into consideration when speaking. • Understand both our own and another’s point of view and give voice to each when we communicate. • Understanding and hearing others’ viewpoints paves the way for affirming relationships.
Using I-language allows you to own your own feelings while also explaining to others how you interpret their behaviors.
You-Language I-Language You hurt me. I feel hurt when you ignore what I say. You make me feel small. Ifeel small when you tell me that I’m selfish. You’re so domineering. When you shout, I feel dominated.
Rephrase each statement so that it is expressed using I-language • You are so arrogant. • You embarrassed me in front of my friends. • You’re so understanding about my situation. • You really are self-centered.
Abstract to Concrete Animal Cat Scrabbles abstract concrete
Rephrase each statement so that it is less abstract and more concrete. • Edward always finds something critical to say. • Most people have lost any sense of personal responsibility. • Let’s keep our trip from getting too expensive.
Qualified Language • Increases the clarity of communication • Qualify generalizations to avoid making a general statement an absolute one. “Politicians are crooked.” “A number of politicians have been shown to be dishonest.”
Static evaluation refers to assessments that suggest something is unchanging. “Don is irresponsible.” Indexing reminds us that our evaluation applies only to specific times and circumstances. “On the Task Committee, Don was irresponsible.” Indexing
Experiencing Communication in our Lives . . . View the following video clip and then answer the questions that follow based on material presented in this chapter. A script of the scenario can be found at the end of Chapter 4.
Identify examples of you-language in this conversation. How would you change it to I-language. • Do you agree with Celia that the problem is Bernadette’s, not hers? • Do Celia and Bernadette seem to engage in dual perspective to understand each other? • You may go to your student CD that accompanies the text to compare your answers to Julia Wood’s.