How does language demonstrate power

Length: 4 Pages 898 Words

HOW DOES LANGUAGE DEMONSTRATE POWER An 18th century English novelist and dramatist wrote, AThe pen is mightier than the sword. However, 20th century school children defend themselves from verbal assaults by taunting, ASticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, AAt one end, language seems to be very powerful, while at the other, language seems ineffective. Children may be taught to defend themselves with an adage, but in reality language is powerful and shapes the way we perceive our lives, culture, and world. In fact, the power of language is most evident in the way it reflects our values about people who lack influence in our society. The usage of some words that describe women lack influence and uniqueness. Expressions and terms used toward this individual by society and/or men in general, make the average women lack intellect and integrity through these words. Phrases such as Asugar and spice,@ Aa cute tomato,@ and Asweetie pie@ are all generally stated to a female to describe her. Alleen Pace Nilsen=s article Sexism in Language states, AThis kind of thinking is the comparison of females to food since food is something we all enjoy, even though it is extremely passive@ (236). People that use th Continue...


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Nilsen states in his essay, AOther pleasurable items that we compare females to are toys. Young girls are called little dolls or china dolls, while older girls, if attractive are simply called dolls (236). Some Caucasians are labeled as Aupperclassmen because of higher paying jobs, while Mexicans are cauterized with and identity of Alower-class individuals who are hired because work is done for cheap pay. This also refers to the word Aprimitive used to substitute the word Aunintelligent. Every word in our language holds a variety of definitions in that particular word. Language demonstrates power through its significance, and its many purposes. In Gordon Alports article The Nature of Prejudice ,he states AThe use of these words used today to describe race may always be problematic because of their cultural inheritance and history which must impact the subconscious mind, and therefore perception and behavior(Alport). ese terms toward females do not have the impression of importance or prestige in ones society. The word Ahomeless means without a home; Michiko Kakutani states in his essay The Word Police that ACalling the homeless Athe under housed doesnt give them a place to live; calling the poor Athe economically marginalized doesnt help them pay the bills. These words are used as compliments but there is no value or honor through these words and its meaning. Society finds a way to substitute the word Aunintelligentwith words that make the real meaning have less importance. The usage of the word Aprimitive makes Aunintelligent seem more meaningful and significant, but in reality the usage and character of the word Aprimitive still means ignorant and untaught, though sounding more valuable than the actual word Aunintelligent. Being homeless or unintelligent can make one feel inferior to the individual without these flaws or imperfections. For instance the word Aprimitive can replace the word unintelligent or stupid.

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