wareing,_shan._what_is_language_and_what_does_it_do._language,_society,_and_power._pp._2-15_(16)

Wareing,_shan._what_is_language_and_what_does_it_do._language,_society,_and_power._pp._2-15_(16)

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An introduction Second edition Linda Thomas, Sh~n Wareing, Ishtla Singh, Jean Stilwell Peccei, Joanna Thornborrow and This edition revised and edited by Ishtla Singh and Jean Stilwell Peccei LONDON AND NEW YORK
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1.1 Introduction This chapter provides a context for the topics discussed in the rest of the book, by explaining our approach to the study of language and positioning this approach in relation to other ways of thinking about language. Firstly, the chapter considers why language is a phenomenon worthy of study; we use an example of a letter to a newspaper to consider the ways in which language, society and power might be related. Secondly, the chapter considers the nature of language, and how its forms (i.e. its manifestations as spoken or written words, or as signs in sign language) and functions (i.e. what people use language for) may be described and categorised. Thirdly, the chapter explores some of the variations found in language systems, and the social meanings which are attributed to different languages, dialects and accents. Fourthly, the concept of power is introduced, with a discussion of some of the ways in which language creates and maintains power. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the term 'political correctness'. 1.2 Why study language? People find the subject of language interesting and worth studying for many different reasons. Language can, for example, be used as a way of finding out more about: how our brains work, investigating how children learn language, or how damage to our brains results in certain kind of language disorders (psycholinguistics) how to learn and to teach different languages (applied linguistics) the relationship between meaning, language and perception (philosophy) the role of language in different cultures (anthropology) the styles of language used in literature (stylistics) the different varieties of language people use, and why there are linguistic differences between different groups (sociolinguistics) how to make computers more sophisticated (artificial intelligence).
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WHAT IS LANGUAGE AND WHAT DOES IT DO? Many of these areas overlap, and the topics discussed in this book employ ideas and methods from more than one area listed above. Frequently, people who are not linguists are interested in language too. To test the truth of this statement, you have only to look at the letters pages of newspapers and count the number of letters printed per week which are on language-related issues. In the following text, a newspaper columnist complains about the official 'jargon' associated with school teaching in Britain, which she claims she dislikes so strongly that it caused her not to return to teaching: I have been taking a refresher teaching course, which reminded me why I gave up teaching in the first place. It wasn't the pupils, or the pay, or the mountains of marking and preparation, or the huge classes. It was the rubbish new language that one must learn and use in order to read and write the reams of plans, forms, observations and assessments which clog
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Wareing,_shan._what_is_language_and_what_does_it_do._language,_society,_and_power._pp._2-15_(16)

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