Free Language And Power Essay Sample
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Language is a tool that brought people together and gave birth to societies. However, language is also the same tool that at times creates division among people engaged in a communication process, and this is explained by the relationship of power and language.
Although it may not seem apparent, people involved in a conversation possess different amount of power and prestige which is dictated by age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, educational background, socioeconomic status, among others. According to Martin and Nakayama (2013), people who are in power consciously or unconsciously determine the flow of the communication process in such a way that it will promote, reflect, and reinforce their ways of thinking. This difference in power is more pronounced in an intercultural communication wherein the participants come from different linguistic and cultural background. This idea was encouraged by an event witnessed at a grocery store. An old Korean woman was talking to a grocery staff asking where a product can be found. The woman spoke in English but had a rather thick Korean accent. The staff, being American, replied to the woman’s question by enunciating each word slowly in a slightly loud voice. A Chinese friend also shared that during class discussions, non-American students like her would rarely speak because their American classmates would usually dominate the discussion. This is also the same scenario that was shown in the movie Here Comes the Boom, wherein the Chinese student Malia, played by Charice, would always make herself inconspicuous in class or would speak softly during recitation while her American classmates tease and talk comfortably to everyone else including the teachers.
All three situations cited occured in America, and the people involved were Americans and Asians. These examples illustrated how Americans, being native speakers of the language spoken in the country, had more power over those who were not native speakers. As such, the Americans showed more dominance in all three conversation situations, demonstrating that language is related to power.
Martin, Judith N. and Thomas K. Nakayama. Experiencing Intercultural Communication: An
Introduction, 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2013. Print.
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