4: Inter-Act,
th
13
Edition
Verbal
1
Language
A symbolic
system used by
people to
communicate
verbal or written
messages
2
Language and Meaning
• Semantic meaning – the
meaning derived from the
language itself
• Words – arbitrarily chosen
symbols used by a speech
community to name things
3
Language and Meaning
4
Language
• Lexicon – collection of words
and expressions
• Phonology – sounds used to
pronounce words
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Language Community
• Language community: group of people who share a
common language
• Languages are collections of dialects.
• Dialect: form of the language spoken by a specific
culture or co-culture, understood by the larger
language community
• Speech community: speak a common dialect,
particular style, observe common linguistic norms or
scripts
• Privileged dialect marks one as part of the “in-group”
of society.
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Characteristics of
Language
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Arbitrary
Ambiguous
Abstract
Self-reflective
Changeable
Revealing
Hierarchical
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Levels of Meaning
• Denotation – the direct or
dictionary meaning of a word
found in a dictionary
• Connotation – the feelings
or emotions we personally
associate with a word
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West Side Story (1961)
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Denotative vs. Connotative
Home
Residence
House
Dwelling
Denotative vs. Connotative
Word
Connotative Meaning
Home
Cozy, loving, comfortable.
House
The actual building or structure.
Residence
Cold, no feeling.
Dwelling
Primitive or basic surroundings.
Denotative vs. Connotative
Gay
Denotative vs. Connotative
Gay
Happy
Denotative vs. Connotative
Gay
Happy Homosexual
Denotative vs. Connotative
Bad
Denotative vs. Connotative
Bad
Not Good
Denotative vs. Connotative
Bad
Not Good Very Good
Denotative vs. Connotative
Tweet
Denotative vs. Connotative
Tweet
Bird
Sound
Denotative vs. Connotative
Tweet
Bird
Sound
Twitter
Post
Denotative vs. Connotative
Sick
Denotative vs. Connotative
Sick
Ill
Denotative vs. Connotative
Sick
Ill
Very Good
Denotative vs. Connotative
Web
Denotative vs. Connotative
Web
Spider Net
Denotative vs. Connotative
Web
Spider Net Internet
Denotative vs. Connotative
Rap
Denotative vs. Connotative
Rap
Sharp Hit
Denotative vs. Connotative
Rap
Sharp Hit
Music
Genre
Improving Message
Semantics
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Use specific language.
Date information.
Index generalizations.
Adapt language to listeners.
Demonstrate linguistic sensitivity.
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Abstract to Concrete
Art
abstract
Painting
Oil Painting
Impressionist Oil Painting
Renoir’s La Promenade
concrete
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Abstract to Concrete
Buildings
abstract
Campus
College Campus
Community College
College on Long Island
concrete
Nassau Community College
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Abstract to Concrete
Physical Activity
abstract
Athletics
Basketball
Professional Basketball
New York Knicks
concrete
33
Rephrase each statement so that it
is less abstract and more concrete:
• Edward always finds something critical
to say.
• Most people have lost any sense of
personal responsibility.
• Let’s keep our trip from getting too
expensive.
• Politicians are dishonest.
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Dating Information
Specify a time that indicates when a
given fact was true or known to be
true:
Palm Springs is really popular with
the college crowd.
When we were in Palm Springs two
years ago, it was really popular with
the college crowd.
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Indexing Generalizations
Mentally or verbally account for
individual differences:
Because men are stronger than
women, Max is stronger than Barbara.
In general, men are stronger than
women, so Max is probably stronger
than Barbara.
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Adapt Language to
Listener
• Use vocabulary the listener
understands.
• Use jargon sparingly.
• Use slang appropriately .
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Linguistic Sensitivity
• Monitor your language to avoid:
– Language that offends or alienates
– Pointing out a person’s race, sex, etc.
(nonparallel language)
– Prejudicial language
• Use inclusive language.
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Avoid
“Generic” Man
Inclusive
language
Policeman
Police officer
Man-made
Synthetic
All of mankind
All the people in the
world
-Wood
39
How would you change the
following terms to avoid sexism?
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Fireman
Waitress
Repairman
Stewardess
Mailman
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Chairman
Cleaning lady
Congressman
Anchorman
Freshman
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Conversation Maxims
• Quality maxim: Tell the truth, the whole truth,
and only the truth.
• Quantity maxim: Provide the “right” amount
of information. (Too Much Information!)
• Relevancy maxim: Relate what you say to the
topic being discussed.
• Manner maxim: Be orderly in what you say.
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Language and Culture
• Sociolinguistic meaning: varies in meaning
according to norms and expectations of a
particular co-culture
• Idioms: expressions used by members of a
language or speech community whose
meaning differs from the usual meanings in
that combination of words:
“The gas I bought today cost an arm and a leg!”
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Some Idioms…
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To pay through the nose
Under the weather
To be one card short of a deck
Throw in the towel
Step on it!
Piece of Cake
Spill the beans
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Verbal Communication