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6.6 Summary

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.

In this chapter we have defined language as a code that has rules of syntax, semantics, and context. We have examined how language influences our perception of the world and the verbal principles of communication. We have seen that a message has several parts and can be interpreted on different levels. Building on each of these principles, we examined how cliché, jargon, slang, sexist and racist language, euphemisms, and doublespeak can all be impediments to successful communication. We discussed four strategies for giving emphasis to your message: visuals, signposts, internal summaries and foreshadowing, and repetition. Finally, we discussed six ways to improve communication: defining your terms, choosing precise words, considering your group, controlling your tone, checking for understanding, and focusing on results.

Review Questions

  1. Interpretive Questions

    1. From your viewpoint, how do you think that thought influences the use of language?
    2. Is there ever a justifiable use for doublespeak? Why or why not? Explain your response and give some examples.
    3. What is meant by conditioned in the phrase “people in Western cultures do not realize the extent to which their racial attitudes have been conditioned since early childhood by the power of words to ennoble or condemn, augment or detract, glorify or demean?”Moore, R. (2003). Racism in the English language. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  2. Application Questions

    1. How does language change over time? Interview someone older than you, and younger than you, and identify words that have changed. Pay special attention to jargon and slang words.
    2. How does language affect self-concept? Explore and research your answer, finding examples which serve can as case studies.
    3. Can people readily identify the barriers to communication? Survey ten individuals and see if they accurately identify at least one barrier, even if they use a different term or word.

Additional Resources

Benjamin Lee Whorf was one of the 20th century’s foremost linguists. Learn more about his theories of speech behavior by visiting this site. http://grail.cba.csuohio.edu/~somos/whorf.html

Visit InfoPlease to learn more about the eminent linguist (and U.S. senator) S. I. Hayakawa. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0880739.html

Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker is one of today’s most innovative authorities on language. Explore reviews of books about language Pinker has published. http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/books/index.html

Reference.com offers a wealth of definitions, synonym finders, and other guides to choosing the right words. http://dictionary.reference.com/

Visit Goodreads and learn about one of the best word usage guides, Bryan Garner’s Modern American Usage. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/344643.Garner_s_Modern_American_Usage

Visit Goodreads and learn about one of the most widely used style manuals, the Chicago Manual of Style. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/103362.The_Chicago_Manual_of_Style

The “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most famous speeches of all time. View it on video and read the text. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

The Religious Communication Association, an interfaith organization, seeks to promote honest, respectful dialogue reflecting diversity of religious beliefs. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/rca/index.html

To learn more about being results oriented, visit the web site of Stephen Covey, author of the best seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. https://www.stephencovey.com/

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.