The Nature of Language
Language: a collection of symbols governed by rules and used to convey messages between individuals. Language is symbolic 

Arbitrary constructions that represent a communicator¶s thoughts.

Meanings are in people, not words.



Language is Rule Governed
Phonological Rules 

Word pronunciations Rules of syntax/grammar. Give words meaning. Govern how we use language p.75

Syntactic Rules 

Semantic Rules 

Pragmatic Rules 

The Power of Language
Language Shapes Attitudes 

Language Reflects Attitudes 

Naming Credibility Status Sexism and Racism


Powerful vs. powerless Convergence vs. divergence 


Attraction and Interest Responsibility

Billy Bob Booger Esq.
1992-1995 1990-1994 Harvard Law School Stanford University B.S. Biophysics and Psychobiology

1995-Present Microsoft Corporation Director of Internal Affairs 1991-1994 Franklin Covey Head Consultant and Trainer

Troublesome Language


Equivocal Language 

³we need to talk´ 

Used by groups of people whose members belong to a similar group. Specialized vocabulary used by people with common background and experience. 

Relative Words 


Person A:³The coffee is so strong´ Person B: ³Actually, it¶s quite weak´ 

Overly Abstract Language 


Disruptive Language  Confusing facts and opinions
Facts are true or false  Opinions are speaker¶s beliefs.  

Emotive Language 

Describe the speakers opinions based on how the speaker presents the message.

Evasive Language  Euphemisms  

Confusing facts and inferences 

Words substituted in place of taboo words. Intentionally ambiguous speech. 


Conclusions made based on little evidence.

Gender and Language

Conversational Style 

Research shows that men and women discuss similar topics in same-sex conversations.  

Reasons for Communicating 

Women ask more tag questions than men. Men interrupt women more during conversation. Women accommodate more to topics men use.


Culture and Language
Verbal Communication Styles 


Use direct language to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas as clearly and logically as possible. Use the context in which a message is delivered in order to express and discover meaning. 


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