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Chapter 3: Language. Language is…. A collection of symbols governed by rules and used to convey messages (meaning) between individuals. Made of Symbols Alphabet, numbers, gestures, verbal sounds Is Rule Governed Semantic, syntactic, pragmatic, phonological Meaning between individuals

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language is
Language is…
  • A collection of symbols governed by rules and used to convey messages (meaning) between individuals
Made of Symbols
    • Alphabet, numbers, gestures, verbal sounds
  • Is Rule Governed
    • Semantic, syntactic, pragmatic, phonological
  • Meaning between individuals
    • Is a process
    • in people not words
    • Change with time, place, and experience
    • Denotative- dictionary meaning
    • Connotative- subjective/personal meanings
language shapes perceptions power status and credibility
Language Shapes PerceptionsPower, Status, and Credibility,
  • Grammar, Accent
  • Labels
    • Person’s Name
    • Title
language reflects attitudes
Language Reflects Attitudes
  • Affiliation
    • Jargon and Slang
  • Attraction and interest
    • Joe and Jane or Jane and Joe
  • Responsibility
    • I versus You messages
    • You make me mad…I feel angry when…
racism sexism bigotry
Racism, Sexism, Bigotry
  • A man is commanding
  • A woman is demanding
  • A man is forceful
  • A woman is pushy
  • A man strategizes
  • A woman manipulates
  • A man is assertive
  • A woman is aggressive
  • A man shows leadership
  • A woman is controlling
  • A person is homosexual
  • A person is gay.
  • A person is _______(slur).
  • A person is white.
  • A person is Caucasian.
  • A person is a _____(slur).
  • A person is black.
  • A person is African-American.
  • A person is _____(slur).
  • You people
language shapes and reflects culture
Language Shapes and Reflects Culture
  • Linguistic determinism:
    • Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis
    • Reflects
      • Impact of the world on a culture
      • Eskimos/Snow
    • Shapes
      • Understanding of what is important to the culture
      • Time, Family Relationships
equivocal language has with more than one meaning
Equivocal Language has with more than one meaning

Sometimes unintentional


  • A nurse tells a hospital patient he would no longer be needing their help. He thought he had a terminal diagnosis and was going to die. She had the good news of telling him it wasn't serious. He was going home.

Sometimes used to avoid making an explicit statement; avoid lying


  • Your best friend gets a haircut, which you hate.
  • You respond:
  • “What an interesting contemporary style”
  • A shag, how retro!
relative words words which gain meaning by comparison
Relative WordsWords which gain meaning by comparison
  • How many are:
    • A few____
    • Several___
    • Many____
    • A lot_____
    • If a store is “not far away,” how long does it take to get there?
    • Your friend needs to buy a “cheap car” so how much can he spend?
abstract language words which vary in specificity
Abstract LanguageWords which vary in specificity
  • Level Four: Abstractions
    • Examples: life, beauty, love, success, power, evil, good.
  • Level Three: Noun classes: broad group names with little specification.
    • Examples: People, men, women, industry, jewelry, television, plants
  • Level Two: Noun categories: more definite groups.
    • Examples: teen-agers, senior citizens, clothing industry, necklace, TV drama, house plants.
  • Level One: Specific, identifiable nouns.
    • Examples: Tina, Bob, Sixes Jeans, Adina, Grey’s Anatomy, African violets,
slang words used by members in a similar group or co culture
Slang Words used by members in a similar group or co-culture
  • define "insiders" and "outsiders"
    • The implication is that if you don't understand them, you're an outsider.
    • To qualify as street slang, you have to annoy someone.
  • examples:
    • bling-bling, bounce, sick, trip, wack, dawg
  • Regionalisms
    • are geographical slang terms.
    • South: Ya’ll, buggy,
    • milk shakes: Massachusetts =frappes; Rhode Island = cabinets
    • carbonated drinks: Boston = tonic; NY = soda; GA = coke
  • Influenced by Age
    • Badunkadunk
    • Shawty
    • (Generation Appropriate Rules?)
  • Influenced by technology
    • Hit me on the hip
  • Newly created and based on old slang
    • Milton
  • Different from Jargon
    • Ya coded ( as heard on Grey’s Anatomy)
jargon shorthand used by people with common interests or jobs
Jargonshorthand used by people with common interests or jobs
  • Professionals:
    • legalese. NASDAQ, AWOL
  • computer-mediated acronyms,
    • i.e. lol, brb, btw, BFF
  • Retail – cut, etc.
euphemisms substituting a pleasant word for a less pleasant one
Euphemismssubstituting a pleasant word for a less pleasant one
  • Used to spare one’s feelings
  • Used to be politically correct
    • Reflects concerns of a particular group of people
    • Used to Manipulate feelings, level of responsibility; status
  • Talk About:
    • Music, Current Events, Sports, Business
  • Gossip about
    • sports figures and media personalities
  • Conversation
    • is a game; make it fun
  • Words:
    • use swear words, interrupt more
  • Goal:
    • Use language as a way to assert control
    • Reach goals, solve problems, offer advice
  • Talk About:
    • Relationship problems, Family, Health, Reproductive matters, Weight, food, Clothing
  • Gossip About:
    • Close friends and family
  • Conversation
    • is about feelings, relationships
  • Words:
    • justifiers, intensive adverbs, talk less in mixed sex dyads
  • Goal:
    • Use conversation to meet need for empathy
    • Use Language to maintain Harmony