2 What is Language?3 key features to distinguish language from non-language…Language is rule- governedLanguage is intendedLanguage is creative and open-ended
3 Language is rule-governed Grammar: gives rules for how to combine words in the correct order, and it helps to determine the meaning of a sentenceVocabularyFor communication to work, it does not matter what noises or squiggles we correlate with objects, so long as there is general agreement.
4 Language is intendedBody Language: using the body to intentionally communicate
5 Language is creative and open-ended We are able to create and understand sentences that have never been written or said before.Languages are not static… they can change or develop over time.
6 The problematic nature of human communication Part one
7 The problem of meaningWords are often ambiguous (having several possible meanings) and open to a variety of interpretations.If you do not know the meaning of key words in a passage, you will not understand it.Meaning is important in our search for knowledge because… you must know what a sentence means before you can decide whether it is true or false.
8 Theories of meaning3 theories of what distinguishes meaningful words from meaningless ones…Definition TheoryDenotation TheoryImage Theory
9 Definition Theory Meanings are to be found in dictionaries… Coming up with a good definition is more difficult then it seems.The only words that we can define in a clear way are mathematical ones.Criticism of this theory…The only way to explain meanings of words is by using other words.
10 Denotation theoryMeanings are found in the world… (words correspond to other things in the world)Criticism of this theory…If we took this theory literally, people would not be able to talk about you after you die.
11 Image theory Meanings of words are found in the mind… The meaning of a word is the mental image it stands for – you know the meaning of the word when you have the appropriate concept in your mind.
12 Meaning as know-howYou know the meaning of a word when you “know how” to use it correctly.
13 Problematic meaning5 kinds of problematic meaning in everyday language
14 Vagueness Words that meaning depends of context Example: the word fast means something different to a long distance runner and a formula 1 racecar driver
15 Ambiguity Many words have multiple meanings Ambiguous words can be amusing, but they can also be used to mislead someoneEx: Politicians
16 Secondary meaningWords can have different meanings depending of the personDenotation: primary meaning (dictionary definition)Connotation: secondary meaning (varies from person to person)Euphemism: using a connotation that carries a more acceptable or pleasant feeling then its harsh denotation… using emotive meaningEx: died – passed away
17 metaphor Sentences that are “literally” false, but metaphorically true You can use the context of a sentence to determine whether a sentence is meant literally or metaphorically.Example:My brother is a butcher. (literal)My dentist is a butcher. (metaphorically)
18 irony The saying of one thing in order to mean the opposite Example: It is storming outside and someone says, “Nice weather we are having!?”
19 Meaning and interpretation In summary, problematic meaning = language is ambiguous.Vagueness, secondary meaning, metaphor and irony can all be seen as different kinds of ambiguity.Meaning is not an all-or-nothing concept…
20 Language and translation Problems of TranslationThree problems arise in translating something from one language to another.ContextThe meaning of a word in a language is partly determined by its relation to other words.Untranslatable wordsEvery language contains words that have no equivalent in other languages.IdiomsMeaning is nonsensical if interpreted literally, but means something else entirely when examined as a whole.
21 idioms Examples: “Don’t beat around the bush” “I was over the moon” “He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth”
22 Language affects the way we see and think about the world Part two
23 Labels Putting labels on things has its advantages and disadvantages… labeling is efficient and economicalDisadvantageslabeling creates the danger of mislabeling things
24 stereotypesA stereotype arises when we make assumptions about a group of people purely on the basis of their membership to the group.Despite the dangers of stereotyping people, some generalizations contain an element of truth in them.
25 The sapir-whorf hypothesis language determines our experiences of reality, and we can see and think only what our language allows us to see and thinkExample:Amondawa TribeLinguistic Determinism: language and its structures determine our knowledge and thoughts
26 language and valuesWe use language not only to describe the world, but to also persuade and influence one another.Advertisers use the “power of language” to influence and persuade.
27 4 ways in which language can influence and persuade people Emotionally laden languageWeasel WordsGrammarRevealing and Concealing
28 Emotionally laden language Emotive Meaning: the aura of favorable or unfavorable feeling that hovers about a wordExample: Euphemisms
29 weasel words words that give ambiguity to a statement Examples many, should, probablyOur product will work for you if you simply follow instructions carefully.
30 Grammar Grammar can affect the way people see things. The passive voice may be used to cover up someone’s responsibility for something.Example:Many villages were bombed.(passive)We bombed many villages. (active)The first sentence makes the bombing sound like a natural disaster, while the second puts the spotlight on the perpetrators.
31 Revealing and Concealing Language can reveal certain aspects of reality and conceal other aspects by diverting attention away from them.4 descriptions of the same person.I have invited an attractive blonde to the party.I have invited a cellist to the party.I have invited a marathon runner to the party.I have invited a lesbian to the party.Each description has different connotations…
32 Language is power!!! Take this statement seriously! Language can be used to educate, enlighten, and fuel the flames of hatred.