Language and Power - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication
There is a clear relationship between language knowledge and power that can be observed in a wide array of different arenas; however. So we can say that language references knowledge. the most critical questions of language and the relationship between knowledge and language. . its existence using internal patterns and it can leach the power from these other clumps. Nietzsche's Style: On Language, Knowledge and Power in International Relations . They represent the relationship between individuals and their environment.
She describes a portrait not of a single character but of a small society, in The Last Chronicle of Barset: Anthony Trollope wrote a novel about a clergyman and a theft which has a theme. The mean anxiety of the countryside to believe that poor unattractive Mr. Crawley should have stolen the money sent to him as a gift, and their oddly enough equally sincere relief when it was proved that he did not, illustrate the curious tendency among human beings for the happy to hate the unhappy, as if they spread their unhappiness as an infection.
Language, Power, and Knowledge | MCM Fall Course Blog
Anthony Trollope passed the whole of this material through his imagination probably not knowing exactly what he was doing, or how he was doing it, or how important it was that it should be done, since the presentation of this knowledge to himself would have absorbed energy and he could do the job just as well without itand having thus gained an accurate non-sentimental view of it he told the truth about it so helped him God. And at the end of it he has established just how certain kinds of people act in certain circumstances that uncover their attitudes to recurring and fundamental factors of life, just as Professor Pavlov has established how a certain kind of dog behaved when it was given meat powder under certain conditions.
An experiment has been conducted, an observation has been made, bearing on a certain principle. So Trollope in his unconscious way, as Rebecca West interprets him, gave a name to a local drama and thereby allowed his readers to glimpse a permanent truth about collective self-deception.
In a writer of greater conscious intelligence, we may discover a knowledge of character and of group psychology that is just as rare. It took a toll it took on his relationships, as all asceticism must do: To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor.
It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi—with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction—always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: This attitude is perhaps a noble one, but, in the sense which—I think—most people would give to the word, it is inhuman.
No doubt alcohol, tobacco and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.
In the war years, Orwell had written unsympathetically of the political privilege and as he saw it the emotional luxury of pacifism. The pacifist, he thought, in the war against Hitler exercised with impunity a moralistic high-mindedness which was only possible because others were willing to fight to save a country that tolerated pacifism.
The survival of pacifists depended on the exertion of soldiers, just as the defense of Belgium required the action of mercenaries who saved the sum of things for pay. Society and language influence each other Is the correct way to look at the relationship. Speech and social behaviour are constantly interacting.
All the time language is changing because of social contexts and social contexts cause the language to be changed. However, this does not mean that we should not explore the two other possibilities in some depth, because they can enlighten us about the relationship of language and society. There are two views here - one is more extreme than the other.
The first idea is that language is so powerful that it actually affects how you see the world; the second is that is influences the way we think and behave. A linguist called Whorf claimed language actually affects the way you see the world so language is like a pair of glasses through which we see everything. Whorf said that Hopi and European had different ways of talking about the world, so it influenced the way they saw the world.
European languages treat time as something that can be divided up into separate seconds, minutes and days. Trees and plates can be counted, but water and hope cannot and the language makes distinctions here.
The Hopi language treats time as indivisible so that Hopi will not talk about minutes and weeks. Trees and water are simply treated linguistically as non-discrete items.
The result of this claimed Whorf was that the Hopi genuinely see the world differently from Europeans. Their language structure makes them see the world differently. Unfortunately, for this theory, nobody asked the Hopi if they really saw the world differently. It would seem that they see it just as we do. Would their world view shift depending on the language they were speaking? Another example of this theory is the often-cited fact that Eskimos have lots of different words for snow, so it means they actually see different kinds of snow, whereas we only see "snow".
But this isn't really true because we can use words to describe the snow if we need to, e.
We aren't tuned to thinking about it that way, but if it becomes important, we can easily do so. We might not know the names of different makes of car, but still be able to tell the difference between a Fiat and a Rolls Royce, for all that. So could an Eskimo, even if the Inuit language didn't have the exact words. Besides which, Eskimos don't really have all those words for snow - it's just one of those pieces of information that everyone repeats and no-one has checked if it's true.
If you check, you find it isn't true! There is an important lesson here that linguists can learn: Any Hopi or Inuit could have told us immediately that this was a load of nonsense, but no-one ever thought to ask them.
Many people, including linguists have done the same when describing sign languages, too. Often they have said things that people have come to believe when deaf signers have known it wasn't true. The point about the story is that this sort of control does not really work, and cannot work because if we do not have words for our thoughts, we just create them anyway. Still, some politicians and businesses do like to believe that the language we use will affect the way we think about something.
So, language doesn't affect what we can see in the world, but it is still possible that language affects people and society because maybe language still affects the way we can think. Some people say that sign languages don't have abstract signs because all signs are iconic and so deaf people can't think about abstract things like love, bravery, inflation, investment for the future etc.
IF this was true, then we could say this was an example of language affecting people. BSL can express anything that English can.
A linguist called Basil Bernstein found that middle class children used an "elaborated" code of English in school. This meant they used more abstract words, less context dependent words and more complicated sentences.
Working class children seemed to use a more "restricted" code. This meant using more concrete words, more context-dependent and less complicated sentences. So some people but NOT Bernstein said this means working class children can't think in abstract ways because their language doesn't allow them to. This, of course, is nonsense.
Just as with deaf people. All it means is that the children used different ways of expressing the same thing. One example of the way that language is said to affect society is in sexist language.
The theory is that language affects the way we view men and women because it treats men and women differently. If you use words like chairman or fireman it implies only men can do the jobs, so women feel left out.
It is worth noting, though, that the form of the words can influence our view of things. Another feature of English that might exclude women is the use of "him" to mean "him and her". This way the language may create sexism in a society. But really, it's more likely that the society made the language sexist, eg using words to put women down like chick, bird etc.
Bird used to refer to men and women, but now it is just derogatory to women. BSL does not have gender pronouns to correspond to he and she, but does this make the deaf community any more or less sexist? It is possible that signers look at the world differently from speakers, because sign languages are visual and spatial. If you think in a language that concentrates on order and space, then you are more likely to look at the world like that.
One of the biggest blocks to hearing people learning signed languages rather than signed versions of spoken languages is learning to think about the world so that it is spatially organised. Note, though, that hearing people are fully capable of seeing the world spatially - it's just that they aren't used to building space into their language.
The Language of Knowledge and the Language of Power
We have seen, then, that to some extent, language can have an effect on the way we think. We need to consider the attitude that some people have towards their own language, and attitudes that other people have. The language that we use can make a big difference to the way that we see ourselves, and the way society sees us. It can also influence the way we relate to society. Find out which adverts on television have regional accents of English, and which have "middle-class accents.
What products are they advertising? Can you spot any pattern? Accent is very important in Britain. Advertisers on television only use regional accents for voice-overs if the product is cheap or if the aim is to amuse.
Serious things or expensive products use the voices of middle-class men. During the war, the BBC had to use "middle class" speakers the read the news because no one believed the people with regional accents. This has now changed, which goes to show that social factors in languages do vary and change over time. However, not all regional accents have the same social acceptability and "broad" that is, strong regional accents are still cannot be too strong for some media broadcasts.
Everyone seems to have an idea what is a "good" language or variety and what is a "bad" one.