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Unformatted text preview: The Power of Language
Chapter 7 Diestler, S. (2009). Becoming a critical thinker. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson What is language? What is Language = a system of symbols that convey meaning. Why is language powerful? Why is language powerful?
► It influences people. ► It enables us to clarify issues. ► It enables us to confuse issues. ► It conveys our emotions in verbal and written forms. Denotation Denotation
Denotation = the object or act a noun refers to This includes Verbs (“jump”) Objects (“table”) Proper nouns (“Dubai”) Consider: Henry Jones III Tom Baker Bruce Wells Connotation Connotation =
Connotation = images that are associated with the denotation Sunshine => colorful flowers, beach Rolls Royce = USA = McDonalds = NOTE: NOTE: Because connotations involve emotions, the images we associate with the denotations may not be the same: = discomfort Connotations are important in names because Connotations are important in 1. labeling is important in group affiliation. 2. individual names often have cultural meaning. The Power of Connotations The Power of Connotations The semantic differential is a tool to assess the cultural meaning of words. + fast slow beautiful ugly powerful powerless good bad Meaning Meaning
Semanticists claim meaning is “based on three dimensions:” a. Is the word good or bad? b. Is the word active or passive? c. Is the word powerful or weak? + = the word has that quality = the word does not have that quality An example of differences in An example of differences in meaning…. + good good + active + powerful + good active powerful = woma n = lady Words are just labels but ……. Words are just labels but …….
► Ask young children how old they are. They answer: “I’m 5 and ½.” ► When people turn 30, 40, or 50 they may feel anxious ► In USA 21 is a very important age ► A study done in Australia. In 4 different classes a visitor was introduced as either – a student, a lecturer, a senior lecturer, or a professor. After he left the room students estimated his height. As his position got higher he got taller. General semanticists study the effect of words General semanticists on people. Their principle: “The word is not the thing.” (Think of how a map only represents a place; it is not the actual territory) (p.262) Critical thinkers recognize that words are limited in scope, and they check out information before making hasty conclusions. What is Reification? What is Reification occurs when words take on more power than their reality. e.g. caviar sounds better than fish eggs How do we act when there is How do we act when there is reification? Our behavior changes when terms undergo reification, for example: 1. We are more likely to eat and buy “caviar” than “fish eggs.” 2. We will pay more for brand names than for generic items. 3. We feel good wearing designer clothes. 4. We feel uncomfortable when people have titles Ambiguity in Language Ambiguity in Language
► Turn the following drawing into a 6 by adding just one line: IX ► “Drought turns wolves to watermelons.” ► “Hospitals are sued by 7 foot doctors.” ► Automatic washing machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.” ► “Police begin program to run down jaywalkers.” ...
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- Fall '09