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Language & Meaning. COM 370—Psychology of Language John R. Baldwin Illinois State University. American Communication What is said q “I” focus q Impolite talk q Direct talk q Assertive speech q Self-enhancing talk q Public personal questions q Expressive speech.

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language meaning

Language & Meaning

COM 370—Psychology of Language

John R. Baldwin

Illinois State University

american chinese communication
American Communication

What is said

q “I” focus

q Impolite talk

q Direct talk

q Assertive speech

q Self-enhancing talk

q Public personal questions

q Expressive speech

Chinese Communication

What is not said

“We” focus

q Polite talk

q Indirect talk

q Hesitant speech

q Self-effacing talk

q Private personal questions

q Reticent speech

American & Chinese Communication

(Gao & Ting-Toomey, 1998)

levels of language
Levels of Language
  • Phonemic: /th/ /r/ /ö/
  • Morphological: Adam/s/; particles: “ma”
  • Semantic/Lexical: “babe,” “amigo”
  • Syntactic: Imperfect v. preterite; future subjectunctive
  • Pragmatic: Asking a Q; persuading
  • Rhetorical/ideological:Underlying ideas, nature of “communication,” etc.
morphological differences
Morphological Differences
  • Greek nouns:
  • Conjugating verbs: Pick a language:
  • Check out SIUs South East Language page!
  • Tones?:

  • Clicks?:

Some tonal humor…

lexical choice
Lexical Choice
  • Words of Connection
    • Kuan-shi
    • Nunch’I
    • Jeito
    • Palanca
  • Semantic differences:
    • Amigo; close friends
    • Freedom
    • Term paper
  • Pragmatic differences: conflict, humor, etc...
basic concepts
Basic Concepts
  • Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Language “constructs” or creates our (social) reality

stances on linguistic relativity
Stances on Linguistic Relativity

Steinfatt, 1989

  • LR-NO: __________________
  • LR-LO: ___________________
  • LR-GCS: __________________
  • LR-CA: ___________________
basic concepts8
Basic Concepts
  • Bernstein Hypothesis: Social situations dictate our language
    • Restricted Code
    • Elaborated Code
    • Code Switching
ways of doing language research on cultural differences
Ways of doing language research on cultural differences

(Goddard & Wierzbicka, 1997)

  • Ethnography of Communication: _____________
  • Contrastive pragmatics
    • Grice
    • Politeness
    • Speech Acts, etc.
  • “Culture” studies (not “cultural studies”)
  • Cultural scripts approach:
    • Why do Goddard & Wierzbicka like this approach?
example of a cultural script
Example of a Cultural Script
  • If something bad happens to someone because of me
  • I have to say something like this to the person: “I feel something bad because of this.”

Not an apology, because the speaker may or may not be responsible for the bad thing!

scripts language forms values
Scripts, language forms, & values

What are some scripts or language forms for each of the following groups? What underlying values do they suggest?

Compare and contrast!

How might such differences cause difficulty in intercultural communication, negotiations, public relations or media work,?

speech codes theory
Speech Codes Theory


Ethnography (Soc/Anth)—Dell Hymes

Ethnography of Speaking/Comm

Gerry Philipsen (UW)

Donal Carbaugh

Tamar Katriel

Bradford “BJ Hall

Chuck Braithwaite

Kristine Fitch

Mary Jane Collier?

Stella Ting-Toomey

speech codes theory philipsen coutu covarrubias 2005
Speech Codes theory(Philipsen, Coutu, & Covarrubias, 2005)
  • Background
    • Grounded in “observation of communication conduct” (p. 56)
    • A way to use “situated codes and meanings” to decipher everyday communication conduct
    • Goal to develop a specific understanding of each culture, with assumption that each culture is unique
    • Goal to develop a framework that can be used to apply to any culture, even to compare cultures, in regards to a particular speech genre (Philipsen, 1989).
speech codes theory philipsen coutu covarrubias 200517
Speech Codes theory(Philipsen, Coutu, & Covarrubias, 2005)
  • Speech codes:
    • “a system of socially constructed symbols and meanings, premises, and rules, pertaining to communicitave conduct” (Philipsen, in PCR, p. 57)
  • Symbolic (situated) resources:
    • “Symbols and meanings, premises, and rules, pertaining to communicative conduct—that participants use to name, interpret, and judge communicative conduct.” Resources “to eanct, name, interpret, and judge communicative conduct” (p. 57). That is…
  • Codes: contingent (not fixed); open (not closed)
speech codes theory18
Speech Codes Theory

Speech codes involve/result/create:

    • Psychology of culture:meanings
    • Sociology of culture:social relations
    • Rhetoric of culture:strategic conduct

In sum,

  • Meaning of messages relies fundamentally on codes
  • Speech codes are located in language and communication of native speakers
  • Speech codes can be used to understand, predict, and control communication
  • Speech codes enact certain identities
speech codes theory19
Speech Codes Theory

The Propositions:

  • Distinctive culture. . Distinctive speech code
  • In any community, multiple speech codes
  • Code  distinctive psychology, sociology, rhetoric
  • SCs speakers use determine how important speaking is to give meaning to action
  • Terms, rules, premises of SC are woven into act of speaking itself (metacomm, stories, etc.)
  • “Artful use of a shared code” creates conditions for “predicting, explaining, and controlling” various aspects of the form of discourse (p. 63)
speech codes theory20
Speech Codes Theory

The “Descriptive Model”:

Scene: when, where…

Participants: who…

Ends: why…

Act sequence: what order…

Key: feeling

Instrumentalities: channel, register

Norms: how

Genre: what (joke, conversation,

leave-taking, requests, instructions…)

applications of sct egyptian jewish comm
Applications of SCTEgyptian & Jewish Comm
  • Dugri & Musayra (Ellis & Maoz, 2003)
    • JEWISH ISRAELI: Dugri(Katriel, 1986):
      • “Straight talk”: Direct, to the point
      • Assertive
      • Concerned with clarity, efficiency, image of directness
      • In-group code among Western Israeli Jews
    • ARABIC: Musayra (Feghali, 1997):

“Accommodating, going along with”: 4 aspects

      • Repetition: formulaic, compliments, praise, paralellism
      • Indirectness: Interpersonal caution
      • Elaboration: metaphor, exaggeration
      • Affectiveness: intuitive and emotional style
applications of sct colombian colorado beyond
Applications of SCTColombian, Colorado & Beyond
  • Columbia (Fitch, 1994)
    • Hierarchia: social status
    • Confianza: trust, connectedness
    • [cf. “Sal si puede” ritual]
  • Colorado
    • Saving negative face
application public problem talk donahue
Application: Public “Problem” Talk & Donahue
  • New York Hardcore:
  • The Dangers of Moshing:
face negotiation theory of conflict ting toomey 2005
Face negotiation theory (of conflict)(Ting-Toomey, 2005)
  • Background: Goffman
    • Face: “about identity respect and other-identity consideration issues within and beyond the actual encounter episode” (p. 73)
    • Can be “threatened, enhanced, undermined, and bargained over—on both an emotional reactive level and a cognitive appraisal level” (p. 73)
  • Brown & Levinson
    • Positive and negative face
    • Self and other face
    • Positive and negative politeness
face negotiation theory ting toomey 2005
Face negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey, 2005)
  • Background: Facework

“the specific verbal and nonverbal behaviors that we engage in to maintain or restore face loss and to uphold and honor face gain”

      • Face loss
      • FTAs
      • Preventative and

restorative facework

face negotiation theory ting toomey 200526
Face negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey, 2005)
  • Assumptions (summarized)
    • People in all cultures negotiate face
    • Some situations especially threaten face
    • Cultural variable differences influence aspects of face negotiation
    • Individual differences also influence face
face negotiation theory ting toomey 200527
Face negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey, 2005)
  • Aspects of face that might be influenced:
    • Face orientation (self/other/both)
    • Face movements (defended, saved, maintained, upgraded)
    • Facework interaction strategies (V/NV—direct/indirect)
    • Conflict communication styles
    • Face content domains (positive/negative)
facework interaction strategies ting toomey 2005
Preventative Facework


Suspended judgment appeals





Restorative Facework

Direct aggression




Physical remediation

Passive aggressiveness



Facework interaction strategies(Ting-Toomey, 2005)
facework conflict strategies ting toomey 2005
Facework Conflict strategies(Ting-Toomey, 2005)

I Win






Own Goals

Avoiding/ Withdrawing

Yielding/ Obliging

I Lose

You Lose

You Win

Other’s Goals

face content domains ting toomey 2005
Face Content Domains (Ting-Toomey, 2005)
  • Autonomy face
  • Inclusion face
  • Status face
  • Reliability face
  • Competence face
  • Moral face
lets make some facework predictions
Lets Make Some (facework) Predictions!
  • Culture-level variables
    • Individualism/collectivism
    • Power distance
  • Individual-level variables
    • Self-construal
      • Independent/dependent
      • Biconstrual/ambivalent
  • Relational-contextual variables
    • In-group/out-group
  • Other important variables?