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Place of Language in Society Essay

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Updated: Feb 28th, 2022

Language, as one of the main instruments of human interaction, is not a static quantity. Dynamics in different fields, including social, economic, political, and other areas, stimulate the enrichment of everyday vocabulary and expand the boundaries of expressing feelings and ideas verbally. At the same time, language, as a means of transmitting data, can be expressed not only orally but also in writing, audio, and other formats, which, however, are aimed at the same objectives – to convey specific information. The role of language is difficult to overestimate since, in addition to a tool for interaction, it carries cognitive, mental, aesthetic, and other functions that are closely related to the development of both social and individual values.

One of the main purposes of language is to maintain free communication among people in society. By expressing thoughts and ideas verbally, one is able to develop social ties and express individual attitudes and opinions freely. The concept of co-rumination that finds its application, for instance, in modern business companies, can only be realized through verbal interaction. All major components of communication, including participants, setting, meaning creation, and other elements, are addressed solely due to language. Therefore, this instrument, be it oral or written, cannot be replaced by another form of interaction since at least one component, for example, the noise, will disappear.

The cultural context of a language is a determinant indicating transformations in social communication. The concepts of absolutism and relativism as the theories reflecting moral priorities and attitudes towards ethical norms are impossible without a verbal background that makes it possible to express the positions of both principles. The cultural level of a particular time can be identified by several criteria of the language, for instance, the degree of borrowings fullness, the concentration of vulgarisms and jargon, and some other factors. Moreover, language is a direct consequence of the environment in which it is used and cultivated. Thus, from a cultural standpoint, verbal interaction is one of the key markers.

Since society is formed due to the participation of each individual, language serves as a tool that allows emphasizing identity, thereby distinguishing members of society from one another. For instance, a rich vocabulary of one person is his or her property, which helps highlight one’s essence and position and, at the same time, forms others’ opinion of this person. The languages of a university professor and a first-year student are likely to differ, which is one of the incentives to assert the specific identity of each of the two. At the same time, this is not about the level of knowledge or social status; these personality markers are acquired as a person is formed in society. Language can also be developed, but this determinant is the factor reflecting one’s background and can be perceived as a consequence of experience and specific demographic characteristics, for instance, gender, age, or spiritual beliefs.

The features of self-identity are largely formed due to verbal communication as one of the few tools that allow obtaining data from different sources and compiling them in relation to individual views. Any stereotypes, reflected appraisals, and other ways of forming specific opinions are the result of prevailing views, which, in turn, are spread among people through language. One will not be able to find out whether people with disabilities need support if this topic is not widely discussed. Consequently, any aspect of identity may be adapted to language because both personal and social attitudes and norms passed down from generation to generation are transmitted verbally.

In general, the verbal aspect of language can be characterized as one of its key functions, which makes it possible to call human interaction the main form of social adaptation. Numerous options of verbal communication methods, for instance, informative, instrumental, regulatory, and others help express any emotion and idea, thereby acting as a universal way of self-expression. Individual characteristics also affect language and how it is expressed. For example, gender, regional, ethnic, and other aspects can serve as the determinants of vocabulary in a particular person. At the same time, the basic set of speech components is standard for the majority, which, in turn, allows speaking of verbality as a property that is not separable from society.

As mentioned earlier, the verbal form of language is not the only one. Human interaction, as a versatile and multi-instrumental process, is possible in conditions when oral communication is used equally with non-verbal means of expressing thoughts and ideas. However, one should note that even while interacting through gestures, facial expressions, and other mechanisms in which speech is not involved, language is the background on which understanding is built. For instance, an ordinary American may find it challenging to understand a tribal African who speaks the local dialect. At the same time, a set of symbols and gestures used in direct contact can be utilized with benefit, and each of the interlocutors can interpret a specific message in relation to one’s language system. The value of non-verbal communication is high since it also has a number of functions and serves as a marker of cultural, historical, and other social aspects. Specific disciplines, for instance, kinesics, aim to study this type of human communication, which confirms the value of interaction without speech but with a remark that this particular tool is the basis of understanding.

The adaptation of language to personal needs and interests is impossible without the development of such valuable aspects as listening and responding. These principles of social interaction form platforms for productive dialogue and facilitate communication among members of different communities. Depending on demographic factors, listening styles may vary and differ. Moreover, the hierarchies maintained in specific social environments also determine the nature of how a person’s language is perceived. The role of listening and responding is so high that certain areas of sociology and psychology are devoted to studying the ways to improve relevant skills as the drivers that allow increasing personal identity. Thus, the language that a person uses and the language that is perceived by an interlocutor may not always be on the same plane.

The expansion of social ties and the replenishment of the language stock is largely achieved through intercultural communication. This phenomenon implies creating opportunities for the exchange of experience and information among representatives of different cultures, which, in turn, contributes to a two-way replenishment of vocabularies. The concept of cultural diversity supported today as one of the trends in many business organizations is a significant stimulus for strengthening communication due to the distinctive backgrounds of the participants involved. At the same time, this is also manifested in real life. For instance, border dwellers often know the cultural characteristics of citizens of a neighboring region and can adopt the forms and methods of interaction from them, including linguistic features. Such a mechanism is evidence that adaptability and borrowing are signs of social communication.

The orientation towards specific values ​​and norms can be a factor that depends on both personal and social characteristics. For instance, when evaluating the concepts of individualism and collectivism, one can note that preferences for a specific direction of interaction are given on the basis of existing foundations and traditions in a particular community. For Eastern cultures, collectivist views tend to be preferable, and long-term orientation prevails over short-term. In contrast, in the Western environment, an individualistic approach to communication is more common, and short-term forms of orientation are widespread. One of the main reasons is the idea of ​​national identity. If ethnocentrism is expressed explicitly, this affects all the aspects of communication, including language. Therefore, the nuances of identity inherent in intercultural ties largely determine the type of interaction.

Along with individual aspects, group communication also leaves an imprint on language and is a means of forming social patterns. Specific concepts, for instance, the trait theory, the style theory, and some others, study small group communication as a field that has unique decision-making algorithms based on collective interaction. A leader who promotes respect for subordinates and expresses one’s ideas clearly is often a role model. At the same time, a leader with a poor vocabulary is often perceived as an ineffective manager. The ethics of small group communication is an individual area that dictates the terms of communication in the team and is a dynamic quantity that can be increased by strengthening each member’s interaction skills.

Finally, organizational communication is a rich environment that is constantly expanding due to globalization. The interaction structures that are characteristic in this environment are usually built based on the hierarchical type. In other words, an employee shows subordination in relation to a leader, which, in turn, is expressed in the manner of communication. The assimilation of individual interaction styles occurs as each participant adapts, but there are common drivers that can influence, for instance, an emotional background, peer support, and some other factors. All the aforementioned forms and features make it possible to assert the indispensability of language in society and its importance as a key instrument of interaction.

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