Language & Power

Ach! Nearly a month’s passed and already my half-hearted New-Year’s-Resolution-that-wasn’t has fallen by the wayside.

 Never mind.

 I promised the Y12 Language group that the presentation we were considering in class would be available for you here, and now it is.

Look over at the sidebar and you will see links to bits and pieces on the different units of the course. Language & Power is part of Language & Social Contexts which is unit ENB2, so click on that link and you’ll find it.

 Or, if that’s really too much like hard work, click here. You will need to be on a machine with PowerPoint installed as the blog software won’t let me post it as a self-contained slideshow. If that’s a problem I could email you a copy of the slides as a Word document.

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14 Responses to Language & Power

  1. Melanie says:

    What do we need to comment on?

  2. Mr Heald says:

    Thanks for asking, Melanie.

    Remember at the end of the lesson we started looking at the first couple of examples of situations involving power on the PowerPoint presentation (eg. about the idea that you can talk your way out of bullying). We discussed the type of language use that might be involved and what types of power might be involved.

    Well, there are lots more slides with other examples.

    I want you to start discussing those. Pick one that you think is interesting in some way and tell us your ideas.

  3. Melanie says:

    ‘If a policeman approaches a middle class man who has been caught speeding he may be more inclined to dismiss his behaviour if he manipulates his speech in order to get out of the situation.’

    When it comes to getting out of something, especially with policemen your speech changes. I would say personal power would be used ‘Using power to influence people through personality, nurturing or caring’ because people change there personalities around different people to show they can be good people. This is obviously done around the policeman to get off the hook.

  4. Mr Heald says:

    Good thinking. Let’s take it a step further: you say ‘your speech changes’; how does it change? What is the relevance of the reference to the person as being ‘middle class’ (and a ‘man’ – would a man be more or less likely to be successful in talking his way out of the situation than a woman?).

  5. Melanie says:

    You tend to have men being in trouble for speeding then women, and with him being middle class he will probably know what he’s talking about and is probably used to these type of situations and can act more casual and can cover up.

  6. Mr Heald says:

    OK. But using what kind of language to sound ‘casual’ and to ‘cover up’? Let’s try and make it specific.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    ‘Publishers…. have the power not to publish certain books which they might not like. because of this we don’t receive the books in our shops.’

    The effect the publishers actions have on us, is practical power, because we dont receive the book, but its the publishers using their pedagogical power; their knowledge, to decide against publishing it. If they realise that a certain type of book isnt very popular with audiences, they arent going to want to publish it.
    However, the audience decide whether they do or dont like a type of book, depending on their perseption of it, and if someone with pedagogical power influences someone with less power, more people are eventually not going to like that type of book. So therefore it could be the audience that actually decide whether a book is published or not, meaning the audience have practical and pedagogical power.

    hope that all makes sense 🙂


  8. Jemma says:

    if sumthing is discribed as ‘ethnic cleansing’it seems
    less evil than if the same actions were described as ‘mass murder’

    at face value this is merely Practical power, both ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘mass murder’ are
    physical actions, done by force to another.
    however positional power is also visable, when you think of ‘ethnic cleansing’ you think government
    some one with power, which would make the act acceptable. however with ‘mass murder’ you would
    think psycho, lock him up, its unacceptable. but what is the difference really? position!
    also if alot of people go missing and its explained as ‘ethnic cleansing’
    by a highger power then what had truely happened would go unknown, they’re in control of wot u know
    because ‘ethnic cleansing’ can mean deportation or forced emigration not only genicide.
    that is where personal power comes in, if the person informing you
    of this ‘ethnic cleansing’has the right personality adn confidence infront
    of peopel he can make you believe what he wants, with the whole.
    “oh it was merely ethnic cleansing, no harm done” you’re being
    influenced to believe that everything is fine, your in the dark.he has power over you. whereas if that same person
    came on and said “oh it was merely mass murder no harm done” differnt connotations completly.
    you dont think oh yes of course, they’re all living happily on sum tropical beach.
    however in different circumstances, for example ‘recruitment for sum extremist group’ they would
    use their pedogogical power to recruit who they wish. by putting across ‘ethical cleansing’ as an
    idea, taht is for the best, there’s nothing wrong with it, however this would also need personal power
    to pull it off, they would have to be able to convince their audence.

  9. amy p says:

    “A computer analyst would be using words which would exculde an outsider whose job does not come in contact with this type of work since he would not understand the work and language used.”

    This fits into a number of powers because it could fit into all 3 of them ,these are Pratical, Positional,Pedagogical.

    It fits in Pratical because it is the ict person skills that are use at the time even though other people might not understand what he/she might be trying to put across at the time.

    Also it fits into Positional because even though ict tech people might be below teacher in the scheme of things , they seem to be higher in this situation because they understand what the jargon is about as other teachers might not understand it at all.

    Pedagogical because it using the ict people knowledge to influnce what the people are thinking about the computers and what to do about the knowledge.

    I hope that makes sense amy p

  10. Mr Heald says:

    It’s good to see the comments coming in, but they’re still remaining at a very generalised level. As this is an English Language course, I’m looking for you to try and think of some of the actual forms of language that these examples might make you think about, and to consider how they embody different forms of power.

  11. Jemma says:

    ‘Doublespeak’ which is a type of euthamism used to deliberatly decieve someone, and this is
    the case with ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘mass murder’. communication bypassing is a result,
    the listener may take a different meaning from ‘ethnic cleansing’ than is meant, giving the
    speaker pedagogical power over his/her listeners. because they may take the nicer version of
    ‘ethnic cleansing’ than the speaker truely means.

  12. connor says:

    “When my mother bought pegs from a gypsy … I asked why she had bought them. She replied that she didn’t want a curse put on her and that gypsies can be very powerful if they want to be!”

    The gypsies seem to be using pedagogical power by introducing the idea that they can put a curse on you if you upset them in any way using their practical power. This puts them in the position power over the person which is backed up by a kind of supernatural law.

    They would also have had to convince everybody that they do have the power to put a curse on people. This would also mean they would have to use some of their own personal power to put them up in their position power.

    Although if anybody didn’t believe in the curse, it would make all of this power useless, and the situation will be turned on it’s head, with the gypsies having no power and the other person being totally in control.

  13. Sophie says:

    publishers have the power not to publish certain books which they might not like. because of this we don’t recieve the books in our shops.

    publishers have pratical power over the people because its their money so this prevents us from seeing it. the pedagogical power that they have over us is their knowledge of what books sell, makes them make an informed desicion over wether to publish the book that the public will like. ulitimatley the public will either enjoy a book or they will not, and may recommend it to other people, so this would also suggest that the public have aspects of peagogical power, if the book is published!

  14. Sean says:

    A computer analyst would be using words … which would exclude an outsider whose job does not come in contact with this type of work since he would not understand the work and language being used.

    in most cases the computer analyst has the power he has;
    – the knowledge gap (pedagogical power) the analyst may abuse this power by overcomplicating his lexical choice to intimidate the outsider, this would be by using jargon and referring to the computer components by their correct name. this combines pedagogical power with positional power as you assume that what they are saying is correct due to their position
    – the ability to assess and fix the problem (practical power) however without the personel power this is useless as if they can not persuade the person to allow them to carry out whatever task is neccessary their ability goes to waste
    – he is able to refuse to help (positional power)

    the only time that the outsider has the power is if he is paying for the service as he has the practial power duer to his money.

    however without the computer analysts pedagogical power (likely to be as a result of a reputation) he is powerless. this is because the outsider will more often than not approach the analyst not the other way around.
    so without the pedagogical power of the analyst he is unable to use the other power he has.

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