Naming and identity
- Names shape the way others think of us, the way we view ourselves, and the way we act.
- People with non-normative names suffered psychological and emotional disturbance.
- What makes a name unusual changes over time.
- Some regard unique names as distinctive.
Affiliation - Language can build and demonstrate solidarity with others, known as affiliation.
- Convergence is the process of adapting one's speech style to match that of others with whom the communicator wants to identify.
- Divergence is speaking in a way that emphasizes differences.
Power and politeness - A number of patterns communicate more or less power.
- Powerless speech: tentative, indirect, hedges, hesitations
- Powerful language: direct, forceful, declarations, assertions
- Politeness: saves face for both sender and receiver
Sexism and racism
- Sexist language uses words, phrases, and expressions that unnecessarily differentiate between female and male.
- Racist language reflects a worldview that classifies members of one racial group as superior and others as inferior.
Precision and vagueness
- Ambiguous language consists of words and phrases that have more than one commonly accepted definition.
- Abstractions are convenient ways of generalizing about similarities between several objects, people, ideas, or events and can be thought of as being on an abstraction ladder.
- Euphemisms are innocuous terms substituted for a blunt ones and are typically used to soften the impact of information that might be unpleasant.
- Relative language gains meaning by comparison and is problematic because the relative word is not linked to a more measurable term.
- Static evaluation is a description or evaluation that contains the word "is," which makes the mistaken assumption that people or things are consistent and unchanging.
The language of responsibility - Language reflects the speaker's willingness to take responsibility for his or her beliefs, feelings, and actions.
- "It" statements replace the personal pronouns "I" and “me” with "it’s," which avoids responsibility for ownership of a message.
- A "but" statement has the effect of canceling the thought that precedes it.
- "I" language is a way of accepting responsibility. Assertiveness clearly expressing thoughts, feelings, and wants. "You" language expresses judgment of another person, and "We" language implies joint concern and responsibility for both the speaker and receiver.
- Evaluative/Emotive language seems to describe something but in reality announces the speaker's attitude toward it.