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Chapter 4

This outline can be a helpful study tool to assist you in seeing the order and sequence of the chapter and the relationship of ideas.  Use it to take notes as you read and/or to add concepts presented in lecture.

  1. The complexity of language is a tool to more skillfully improve everyday interaction.
    1. Language is defined as a collection of symbols governed by rules and used to convey messages between individuals.
    2. Arbitrary constructions representing thoughts are given meaning by people
    3. Language contains phonological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic rules.
  2. The way we use language influences others and reflects our attitudes.
    1. Language shapes our ideas of others by means of naming, as well as by showing (or not) credibility, status, sexism, racism, vulgarity, and labeling.
    2. Language reflects our own attitudes through power, affiliation of convergence or divergence, attraction and interest, and responsibility.
    3. Responsibility is accepted or rejected with "it" versus "I" statements, "you" versus "I" statements, "but" statements, or by asking a question rather than making a declaration.
  3. Most linguistic misunderstandings arise from some common problems easily remedied.
    1. The use of equivocal words, relative words, slang, jargon, and overly abstract language causes confusion and misunderstanding.
    2. Disruptive language such as confusing factual statements with opinion statements, or confusing facts with inferential statements, or using emotive language to announce an attitude can be troublesome.
    3. Some euphemisms are pretentious and confusing, while equivocation can be interpreted as deliberately ambiguous.
  4. There are significant differences between the way men and women speak.
    1. Content of conversations, reasons for communicating, the style of presentation, and social philosophy affect communication.
    2. Social orientation, the sex role of the communicator, governs behavior; Masculinity and femininity are culturally recognized, however; they are not biological traits.
  5. Differences in the way language is used across cultures makes communication a challenging task.
    1. Low-context and high-context cultures vary in the use of verbal communication styles.
    2. Low- and high-context cultures also vary in terms of whether they are see as elaborate or succinct.
    3. A third way languages differ from one culture to another involves formality and informality.
    4. Linguistic relativism is the notion of a worldview of a culture being shaped and reflected by the language its members speak.

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