Wood’s Chapter 4 Notes
The World of Words
The Symbolic Nature of Language
Symbols are arbitrary, ambiguous, & abstract representations of other phenomena.
Qualities of Symbols
- Hypothetical Thought
Principles of Verbal Communication
- Language & culture reflect each other
- Meanings are subjective
- Language use is rule-guided:
- regulative rules
- constitutive rules
- Punctuation of language shapes meaning
- organize perceptions
- allow hypothetical thoughts
- allow self-reflection
Meanings and Messages
- Meaning: an active process created by cooperation between source and receiver.
- Meanings are in people
- Meanings are more than words and gestures
- Meanings are unique
- Meanings are both denotative and connotative
- Meanings are context based
- Meanings are packaged
- Messages are rule-governed
- Messages vary in directness
- Messages vary in believability
- A speech community exists when people share norms
about how to use talk and what purposes it serves (Labov, 1972).
Examples of Speech Communities
- Gender socialization
- Social class
Guidelines for Improvement Concerning Language Use
- engage in dual perspective
- own your feelings & thoughts
- respect others’ reports of feelings & thoughts
- strive for accuracy & clarity
- understand connotative vs. denotative meanings
- use concrete rather than abstract language
Consider These Special Language Choices and Concerns
Example 1 -- Imagine...
- In my dream, I came to a room. The room was white. I was surprised of this.
I looked down the white hallway and noticed the white walls, white ceilings
and even white floors!
Example 2 -- Imagine...
- In my dream, I came to a room. The room was black. I was surprised of this.
I looked down the black hallway and noticed the black walls, black ceilings
and even black floors!
Language can Build Bridges or Walls
- Disconfirmation -- ignores a persons presence.
- Confirmation -- indicate acceptance of the person and their definition of
Exercise: How many terms can you write to refer to:
- 1 -- Toilet
- 2 -- Death
- 3 -- Homosexual
- 4 -- Male
- 5 -- Female
Racism and Language
- Terms used by members of one culture to disparage members of other cultures
-- their customs or accomplishments.
- Terms might be used "in-house"
- Identifiers used -- "the Korean Doctor."
- Inherent racism in language
- white vs. black
Sexism and Language
- Power of naming
- Generic "Man"
- Generic "He" and "His"
- Sex role stereotyping
Hetrosexism and Language
- Language used to disparage lesbians and gay men.
- Avoid offensive nonverbal mannerisms and parody stereotypes
- Avoid complimenting "don’t look it"
- Avoid denying individual differences…All gay men understand their feelings.
- Avoid overattribution
- Remember relationship milestones.
Other Areas to be Mindful of Concerning Language:
Talking with the Grief-stricken
- Confirm the other person and their feelings.
- Give permission to grieve.
- Avoid just looking on the "bright side"
(It is better this way).
- Encourage the person to talk about the feelings or loss.
- Watch for leave-taking cues.
Interaction of Verbal and NV Messages
- Nonverbal communication can be used to:
- (Even Substitute!)