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  • Nature of Language

  • In this video well review the nature of language by defining the term language, describing

  • some basic rules of language use, and examining how people use language in everyday communication

  • with others.

  • The information in this video provides a general overview of the nature of language.

  • Please consult assigned readings for more in-depth information.

  • As the course progresses, many of the ideas discussed in this video will be covered in

  • more detail.

  • Language is made up of symbols that humans use to communicate with each other.

  • The symbols of a language can be spoken or written, and some are communicated in movements

  • (as in sign language).

  • In order for humans to understand the meanings communicated in complex arrangements of symbols,

  • we must follow specific rules that guide symbol use within a language.

  • Symbols are used to communicate ideas people hold and to share what they think.

  • Since we cannot communicate telepathically, the sharing of symbols is the only way some

  • of our deepest, and most complex, thoughts can be shared with others.

  • Some symbols are concrete and tangible; they seem to align directly to an object or being.

  • For instance, words likeflower,” “cat,” andclockall have fairly specific definitions.

  • However, the generic definitions of these terms may not be specific enough to clearly

  • communicate one’s thoughts to another.

  • Take the wordcat,” for instance.

  • Imagine a person being invited for a weekend stay at a friend’s house.

  • When making plans, the friend states to the guest that a really big cat lives in the house

  • and asks if having the cat in the house during the visit will be a problem.

  • The guest, imagining the size of common domestic cats (even the big ones), agreed that a big

  • cat in the house would not be a problem.

  • When the guest arrived to stay for the weekend, however, the domestic house cat the guest

  • met was not what the guest imagined at all.

  • It was actually an exotic Serval cat that was nearly 3 feet tall, a bit aggressive,

  • and ate live small animals (not dry cat food) for dinner.

  • Unfortunately, the guest was shocked and a bit frightened of the cat.

  • How could such a misunderstanding occur?

  • Well, the symbols we use to describe what we mean are not necessarily understood by

  • others as we intend them to be understood, even the fairly concrete ones.

  • If two people can have a misunderstanding over a fairly concrete term likecat,”

  • imagine the misunderstandings people might have when using symbols to communicate more

  • abstract ideas like intelligent, funny, or love.

  • The meanings of these three symbols are not based on how something looks, but on how each

  • individual who uses them personally defines them.

  • Take the word love, for instance.

  • Each individual defines this symbol love based on her or his experiences with the emotion.

  • These experiences are based on how each individual has been treated by others who say they love

  • them, stories and songs about love, and other ways society as a whole teaches them about

  • love.

  • Say two people are in a romantic relationship.

  • Person A says, “I love youto Person B. To Person A, love means “I feel attracted

  • to you and have fun with you.”

  • However, to Person B, “I love youis only something that is said if two people

  • intend to marry and spend the rest of their lives together.

  • It’s not hard to image that differences in defining the symbol love could lead to

  • misunderstandings between person A and person B.

  • As the personal definitions people hold of symbols influence understanding among people

  • during communication, so too do the rules of a language.

  • The rules of a language guide both the use and meaning of symbols.

  • There are 3 categories of rules that govern each language: Semantic Rules, Phonological

  • Rules, and Pragmatic Rules

  • It is important to note that semantic, phonological, and pragmatic rules can change from language

  • to language.

  • Semantic rules govern the meanings of words.

  • The examples already presented using the wordscatandloveare both rooted in

  • misunderstandings in semantics.

  • Meanings of words are categorized into two areas, denotative meaning and connotative

  • meaning.

  • A denotative meaning of a word is a literal definition of a word.

  • It is commonly called thedictionary meaningof a word because people can look up a formal

  • meaning of a word in a dictionary.

  • Dictionary definitions of words describe what words should mean when used.

  • The misunderstanding in the cat story is an example of differences in a denotative meaning.

  • However, it is common for people to use words in ways that are not described in a dictionary.

  • This non-standard use of language is calledslang.”

  • Common examples of slang words include calling somethinglitif you think it’s really

  • awesome, usingwoketo indicate that a person or people are aware of cultural issues

  • and major events or are empathetic to othersneeds.

  • Usinglow keyto ask someone not to share information with others orhigh key

  • for information others can (and maybe should) know.

  • Or, usingsavageto indicate something is hard-core.

  • Usingsusto describe something that is suspect or shady.

  • And, referring to someone asextraif she or he is not part of a key group or situation.

  • A second type of meaning of a word is the connotative meaning.

  • The connotative meaning of a word is the personal meaning of a word.

  • It is based on each person’s experience of a word.

  • Connotative meaning is commonly accompanied by emotions.

  • Have you ever noticed that the use of some words upset some people but not others?

  • For instance, the worddamnis upsetting to some (because it is labeled as a curse

  • word), but not upsetting to others.

  • Have you ever carefully chosen your words to avoid causing an emotional reaction from

  • another person?

  • If so, youve carefully considered the connotative meanings that the person may assign to words

  • you use when communicate.

  • Pragmatic rules direct people on how to use a language when interacting with others.

  • While semantic rules dictate how words in a language are defined, pragmatic rules, on

  • the other hand, govern how words should be used during communication based on the context.

  • Sometimes the words used are clearly understood by others, but take on additional meaning

  • based on where or to whom they are said.

  • For instance, a child might like it when a parent calls himhoneyat home, but

  • be embarrassed if called honey in front of his friends.

  • It might be fun and appropriate to use curse words privately with friends, but not appropriate

  • to use at work in front of your boss.

  • The third category of rules is based on how words are said.

  • Calledphonemics,” these rules dictate how words should sound when spoken.

  • Even though some words sound similar when spoken, similar sounding words can have very

  • different meanings.

  • For example: He shed a tear.

  • She saw a tear in her jacket.

  • She will refuse the offer.

  • He noticed the trashcan was full of refuse.

  • He fried an egg in a pan.

  • Don’t forget to pan the entire audience when filming the scene.

  • Beyond knowing the rules of a language we should also consider other factors of language

  • use during communication.

  • One is that meanings of words are in individual people and not in the words themselves.

  • When people hear or read a word, they interpret that word according their own personal experience

  • they interpret what is perceived from their own point of view.

  • Another is that language is powerful.

  • Using words can ignite anger, bring about joy, lead to happiness, elicit sorrow, and

  • a whole variety of other feelings within people.

  • Also, language can shape how people view a situation (as either positive or negative).

  • The words we use to describe people, places, and incidents influence perceptions of these

  • things.

  • For instance: Are you going to a party or a get-together?

  • Is the class amazing or a total bore?

  • Is the amusement park a place of wonder or an over-hyped consumer magnet that only exists

  • to siphon people’s money?

  • Further, words can be aligned with feminine or masculine behaviors.

  • Sometimes words are reserved for describing people who are biologically male or female

  • and their behaviors.

  • Sometimes gendered language can lead to confusion or unease.

  • For example, some people become uncomfortable (or feel excluded) with the use of a gendered

  • term when it is used to describe something any person can do regardless of biological

  • sex.

  • Examples of using non-gendered language include saying mail carrier instead of mailman, nurse

  • instead of male nurse, usingthe individual instead of just him as a general reference

  • to a human.

  • Finally, people judge each other on how they use language.

  • For instance, people who use grammatically correct language may be viewed as more intelligent

  • than people who do not.

  • In some countries, people higher on the socio-economic scale might have a different accent than those

  • lower on the scale.

  • And, people who use a lot of curse words may be perceived as more aggressive than people

  • who do not use curse words.

  • Language use is complicated, however, the rules we are taught to follow when using a

  • language are designed to help people communicate both clearly and appropriately with each other.

  • We will discuss the nature of language in more detail as the course continues.

Nature of Language

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A2 初級

語言的性質 (Nature of Language)

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    Amy.Lin 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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