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IPC Chapter 5 notes

by: RachelB

IPC Chapter 5 notes COMM 1076

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Chapter 5- Language
Intro to Interpersonal communication (COMM-1076-002)
Dr. Shaorong Huang
Class Notes
interpersonal communication, sociology
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by RachelB on Thursday February 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to COMM 1076 at University of Cincinnati taught by Dr. Shaorong Huang in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 71 views. For similar materials see Intro to Interpersonal communication (COMM-1076-002) in Psychlogy at University of Cincinnati.

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Date Created: 02/25/16
IPC Buckel Professor Huang Chapter 5- Language Language is Symbolic  “Words are arbitrary symbols that have no meaning in themselves” (pg 140)  Communicating across different languages, both spoken and signed, is difficult because words mean nothing to people who don’t understand your language (they aren’t symbolic to them) Language is Rule-Governed  Phonological Rules- govern how sounds are combined to form words/pronunciation is formed in language o Ex) “Champagne, double, and occasion have the same meaning in French and English, but are pronounced differently because the languages have different phonological rules” (pg 141)  Syntactic (Syntax) Rules- govern the way the symbols can be arranged (grammar rules) o Ex) Rearranging words to make different meanings:  Whiskey makes you sick when you’re well.  Whiskey, when you’re sick, makes you well.  Semantic Rules- Rules that govern the meaning of language, as opposed to its structure o “Bikes” are for riding and “books” are for reading- the meaning of the word affects how we use it in language  Pragmatic Rules- tell us what uses and interpretations of a message are appropriate in a given context o The relationship between communicators plays a large role in determining the meaning of a statement o Individual relationships create their own sets of pragmatic rules  Ex) humor- teasing and jokes you exchange with one friend might be considered tasteless or offensive in another relationship  Coordinated Management of Meaning Theory (CMM)- describes some types of pragmatic rules that operate in everyday conversations. It suggests that we use rules at several levels to create our own messages and interpret others’ statements, both in person and online. Language is Subjective  “if the rules of language were more precise and if everyone followed them, we would suffer from fewer misunderstandings”  People attach different meanings to the same message, making language subjective (varies from person to person) o You may say the same thing to two different people and they may be agreeable or offended  “Meanings are in people, not words. Hence, an important task facing communicators is to establish a common understanding of the words they use to exchange messages” (pg 144) Language and Worldview  Linguistic relativity- a language both reflects and shapes the worldview of those who use it o (from book) bilingual speakers seem to think differently when they change languages- French Americans were asked to interpret a series of pictures. Speaking in French, their descriptions were more romantic and emotional than describing them in English  Sapir-Whorf hypothesis- declaration of linguistic relativity- he found that the structure of a language determines or greatly influences the modes of thought and behavior characteristic of the culture in which it is spoken. o Different languages have different ways of describing things- some Native American languages describe things as constantly moving and changing, losing any differences between adjectives and verbs (descriptions and actions) o Gendered languages- nouns are assigned a feminine, masculine, or neutral gender  Ex) Spain, Israel and Belgium o Genderless language- nouns have no gender  Ex) Cambodia, Iran, South Africa o Natural language- most nouns have no grammatical marking of gender  Ex) the US, Sweden, and Barbados o It was found that there was less gender equality in countries with more gendered nouns/words The Impact of Language Naming and Identity  Names shape the way others think of us, the way we view ourselves, and the way we act  “Those with non-normative names suffered everything from psychological and emotional disturbance to failure in college” (pg 146)  Negative appraisals are often associated with unusual name spellings as well  Unique names might not always be associated with a negative or unusual thought, but rather a distinctive place in the memory. Culture and cultural identity play a large role in unique naming o The black community in the US often is associated with unique names Affiliation  Language style- the patterns used in speech (choice of vocabulary, rate of talking, number and placement of pauses, level of politeness, and other aspects of communication) o this greatly affects how relationships are affected- those with similar language styles have been proven to last longer than those without  Convergence- the process of adapting one’s speech style to match that of others with whom one wants to identify (doctors, military personnel, different cultures and people)  Divergence- Speaking in a way that emphasizes difference from others o Ex) teens using slang when near adults, people fluent in a language but not conforming completely to it as a sort of “proud of our heritage” display Power and Politeness  Powerless Language- forms of speech that communicate to others a lack of power in the speaker- hesitations, and indirect word choices o Ex) (pg 148) Employee to manager: “Excuse me, sir. I hate to say this, but I…uh…I guess I won’t be able to finish the project on time. I had a personal emergency and…well…it was just impossible to finish it by today. I’ll have it to you first thing on Monday, okay?”  Powerful Language- direct and forceful word choices, with declarations and assertions o Ex) (pg 149) Employee to manager: “I won’t be able to finish the project on time. I had a personal emergency and it was impossible to finish it by today. I will have it to you first thing on Monday.”  Disclaimer- type of powerless speech that attempts to distance speaker from remarks that might be unwelcome o Ex) “I don’t want to sound rude but…” or “not to be racist or anything…”  Politeness- communicating in ways that save face for both senders and receivers  Social rules often mask the real distribution of power o A boss might ask a favor of a secretary in a polite manner, but both people know it was an order directed at the secretary Sexism and Racism  Sexist language- words, phrases, and expressions that unnecessarily differentiate between females and males or exclude, trivialize, or diminish either sex” o This is often seen as a form of hate-speech  “linguistic terms can subtly stereotype men and women” o To say that a woman mothered her children focuses on her nurturing behavior, but to say that a man fathered a child talks only about his biological role (pg 150)  Eliminating sexist language can happen in two ways: o Substituting sex-specific terms with neutral terms  Instead of “he”, “she”, “his”, “her”, use “they”, “them”, “their”  Substituting “mankind” with “humanity”, “human beings” or “man-made” with “artificial” or “manufactured” o Mark sex clearly by heightening awareness of whether the reference is to a female or a male  Instead of substituting “chairperson” for “chairman” (using a neutral term), make the difference between “chairman” and “chairwoman”  Racist Language- reflects a worldview that classifies members of one racial group as superior and others as inferior o (excerpt in book pg 152) “terms such as ‘Black Monday’, ‘Black Plague’, ‘black cats’ and the ‘black market’ all have negative connotations, and literature, tv, and movies have traditionally portrayed heroes in white and villains in black”  Eliminating racist language is to make sure your communication is free of offensive labels and slurs- even those innocent in nature o Instead of “black professor” or “Pakistani merchant”, one could simply say “professor” or “merchant”. (The same could be used against sexist language- “female doctor” instead of just “doctor”) Precision and Vagueness  Ambiguous language- words and phrases that have more than one commonly accepted definition o Ex) picture of a conversation in the textbook about the mother wanting the dad to get her “prego”- the mother meant the cooking sauce but the father responded with “I had that problem solved years ago” o The responsibility for interpreting statements accurately rests in large part with the receiver  Abstraction- convenient ways of generalizing about similarities between several objects, people, ideas, or events  Abstraction Ladder- shows how to describe the same phenomenon at various levels of abstraction  Vagueness has its uses, but can also produce a result that is unexpected o Ex) when getting a haircut, saying “not too short” or “more casual” will either give you the result you want, or end in disaster  Overgeneralizing with vague (abstract) language could also be offensive, like saying “all men are pigs” or “all women are inferior”  Abstraction is also to be avoided when in sexual situations (example from the book, pg 155) o Simply saying “no” might not get the message across to the receiver as it is intended. Elaboration or outright explanation may be needed to convey a specific message  Euphemism- a pleasant term substituted for a blunt one to soften the impact of unpleasant information o Ex) Instead of telling someone “she died”, one might say “she passed” or “she is no longer with us”  We often use euphemism when talking to people of a higher status, so as not to offend them  Relative language- words that gain their meaning by comparison o Ex) saying you attend either a large or small school is a relative statement. Your school may be small, compared to a very populated one such as OSU, but your school may seem big compared to less-populated private schools  Static Evaluation- treating people or objects as if they were unchanging o Ex) saying “Tiara is short-tempered” or “you can always count on Wes” is giving general evaluations of their character, which may not always be the case when communicating with them The Language of Responsibility  “It” Statements- replace the personal pronouns I and me with the less immediate construction it’s o Ex) “it bothers me when you’re late” vs “I’m worried when you’re late” or “It’s a bad idea” vs Í don’t think that’s a good idea” o “It” statements avoid responsibility for ownership of a message, as saying I or me would imply as the speaker communicated their thought  “But” Statements- a statement in which the second half cancels the meaning of the first o Ex) “I’d like to help you, but I have to go or I’ll miss my bus” or “You’re a really great person, but I think we ought to stop seeing each other”  “I”, “You”, and “We” Language- statements in this form often arouse defensiveness o “you”- “you left this place a mess!”- the receiver has been given all responsibility of an action o Assertiveness- clearly expressing thoughts, feelings, and wants o “we”- implies that the issue is the concern and responsibility of both the speaker and receiver or a message- “We have a problem. We can’t seem to talk about money without fighting”  Verbal Immediacy- the way we signal closeness, willingness to communicate, and positive feelings to another person.  Evaluative language (emotive language)-language that conveys the sender’s attitude rather than simply offering an objective description Gender and Language  Significant Differences o Social scientists have acknowledged that there are some significant differences in the way men and women communicate o Some believe that males and females are members of distinct cultures, with differences arising primarily from socialization rather than biology  Men are more likely than women to speak in sentence fragments (“Nice photo”)as well as talking about themselves with “I” references (“I have a lot of meetings”)  Female speech was found to be more tentative, elaborate, and emotional. Women’s sentences are typically longer than men’s, as well as having more references to feelings and intensive adverbs (“He’s really interested”)  Female speech is often less assertive, and contains more statements of uncertainty (“It seems to be…” or “We’re kind of set in our ways”)  Minor Differences o Studies found that only1% of variance in communication behavior resulted from sex differences o “an analysis of 30 studies looking at power differences in women’s and men’s speech found that differences were small and, for the most part, not important” (pg 163) o When studying talkativeness, it was found that men are, overall, more talkative than women (mostly during dyadic rather than group interactions)  Accounting for Gender Differences o Men and women, put in different circumstances, take on a more masculine or feminine role depending on the situation (Occupational or power differences)  “female farm operators, working in a male-dominated world, reproduce the masculinity that spells success for their male counterparts, swearing and talking ‘tough as nails’”(pg 164)  “there are few differences between the way men and women use powerful speech (specifically, threats) when they have the same amount of bargaining strength in a negotiation” Social Media and Language  Online Language and Impression Management o “Much of online communication is an exercise in impression management  Ex) text message errors can make the sender look bad to some recipients (such as professors, bosses, and customers) o Subscribers to online dating services not only can manipulate their photos and videos but also their verbal self-descriptions  Less attractive participants make more linguistic and numeric embellishments than attractive candidates do  Women were more likely to lie about their weight  Men more often misrepresented their professions and income  Online Language and Gender o Research shows that men and women have different written language styles, which shows up in online communication  Men tend to use more large words, nouns, and swear words than women do  Women tended to use more personal pronouns, verbs, and hedge phrases (“I think”) o Women tend to use more emotion words (excited/wonderful) and first-person singular pronouns o Men tend to use more object references (game, government, Xbox) and swear more often- a finding that seems to hold true across every study conducted about male and female word use o Online language differences between the sexes are more pronounced among adolescents  Word choices of teenage boys and girls in chat rooms was observed  Girls were more reactive (“wow”, “omg”, “lmao”) whereas boys were more flirtatious, sexual, and assertive (“any hotties wanna chat?”) o “it’s important to remember that despite the relative anonymity you might feel at a computer keyboard or behind a smartphone, the words you use online say a lot about you. They reflect who you are and how you feel about others” (pg 167)


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