The role of language in society


Language in Society represents language as it “instituted” by social forces, especially by power and the state. * Benjamin Whorf (1897-1941) and Edward Sapir (1884-1939), in the United States, laid the foundations of modern linguistic science. They were concerned to show how language is a social phenomenon, shaped by the cultures in which it is used.

Colin Jenkins explains that Linguistic Profiling is “a set of linguistic features and markers that are applied to an individual because of the group they belong to rather than their individuality.” This means that Linguistic Profiling is based on stereotyping by association.

The use of a certain language in a given situation depends upon the relationship between speakers or participants, as well as what they have in common. This relationship can be very narrow or very general and abstract. It may involve the participants’ roles, attitudes toward each other, the social context of the interaction, and/or their relationship to a particular topic or domain. For example, a person who normally speaks English but has learned German for some time at a job will speak English with his or her family. He or she might speak German in a job interview, particularly if the job being interviewed for involves significant use of German. Code-switching is the term used to describe this kind of behavior.

Language can also influence our thinking and emotions. For example, people who are given words that sound like aged parodies of themselves are much more likely to walk slowly compared to people who are given neutral words. This reveals that language can invoke different emotions and responses from people.

We use stories or narratives, which are based on personal experiences and what we have heard or read, in order to understand the world around us. Stories help explain why things happen and how they relate to each other. By telling stories we are able to make sense of our lives, and by interpreting the stories that others tell us we gain a deeper understanding of their experience.

We are all storytellers; indeed we could not even think without using language to represent the world around us in narrative form. One of the things that distinguishes humans from other animals is that we are able to exchange stories.

Stories can be used to manipulate, or control the thoughts of others. For example politicians and advertisers often use this technique by spinning a narrative in their information campaigns. They want people to think about an issue in a certain way, so they spin a story using language to convince people to see things from their point of view.

Stories are also used to understand a particular perspective or frame, which is an aspect of reality that can be seen in many different ways (i.e., there are many possible frames). We use the stories we hear and tell about events, information, people and places to establish context, and to determine what is relevant when we are trying to understand something or someone. We use this information to interpret new situations.

Language can also be used as an instrument of social identity, which refers to characteristics that people attach to a group that they belong to in order for them to feel a sense of belonging. This “language” of social identity or the “in-group” is often referred to as “jargon”.

Language can also be used in the form of labels or tag questions, which are usually put at the end of a statement. For example, if a teacher wants to keep a lesson flowing smoothly she can use language like “isn’t it?”, which turns the statement into a question and makes people more likely to agree.

Language can be used in many different ways that we don’t usually think about when we communicate with others. It is important to be aware of the ways in which language is used because it can have a powerful and often unconscious effect on the way we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us.

One of the most important things to remember is that language does not just reflect what people are thinking; it also shapes how they think and feel. Furthermore, the words that we use have the power to influence how and what we remember of an experience.

Because language can be used in so many different ways, it is important for people who use language as a tool to think about their choices. Is language being used in a way that reinforces certain beliefs and ideas? Are negative or discriminatory labels being used in order to describe other people? If so, people need to ask themselves whether they are contributing to increasing the problems that some groups of people experience.

The key is for people to be aware of their own language and the language used by others, and for them to think about what they mean by the words that they use. Language can be very powerful, but it is only as powerful as the meaning that people give to it.

When you use language, think about how others feel when they hear your words, and consider what effect your words have on them. Also ask yourself whether the way in which you use language is contributing to a more desirable state of affairs or not. Remember, you always have a choice about the language that you use.

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