Language is a very critical part of the cultures of different people around the world. It helps them identify with each other and demonstrate the importance of their cultures. Different groups of people also take advantage of language to show the superiority of their cultures and discriminate against other groups of people. Many people wonder how language plays this role.
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This paper describes the relationship between language and different ways of life. This work discusses the gay culture, the use of a marked language among some white men, the relationship between language and the Nerdish culture in high schools and the impact of language on racism.
Which language do homosexuals use when talking to each other? This question always disturbs many linguistic anthropologists. They always want to discover how homosexuals use words and intonation to suit their needs. The majority of homosexuals do not use a marked language when talking to their colleagues (Gaudion 33). Why should people think that homosexuals need a special language?
Homosexuality is a culture that brings together people with certain sexual feelings, and many people believe that men who practice it adopt all the feminine linguistic properties (Gaudion 35). However, the relationship between homosexuality and speech is very negligible. Homosexuals use language just as every person does. However, there are some elements of the African-American accent in their language. Some of the individuals deliberately use this accent to identify themselves with their colleagues and the homosexual culture (Gaudion 36).
Language has also largely contributed to the prevalence of racism. How does language contribute to racism? Dick and Wirtz argue that some white people have “racialized” all the words in their speeches (7). They have made their languages discriminative through the use of words that demean some races. In the United States of America, the African-Americans and Latino-Americans are always the main victims of racist languages. These two groups have gone through many problems in the history of America.
Some White American men take advantage of the suffering their black counterparts experienced during the slavery period to abuse them. They call them Niggas, a term the African-Americans consider very harsh to use in reference to them because it reminds them of the problems they experienced in the 19th century (Dick and Wirtz 7). The use of the term Nigga is not the only way people promote racism through the use of language. Even mentioning the term racism makes one a racist. For example, when somebody says, “I am not a racist,” he or she becomes a racist.
Some people also use language to demean other people’s cultures and exalt theirs. This practice entails uttering derogatory statements about other people’s language and color. For example, many white men use Spanish mockingly. They speak Spanish with the purpose of bringing out the negative and dogmatic beliefs about it (Kiesling 110). This group of people uses marked languages to portray other people’s culture as meaningless.
The question that comes to one’s mind is: “Why do they use a marked language?” According to Kiesling, a marked language prevents people who do not belong to their group from understanding their utterances (110). Nerds also use language with the same purpose. They are a group of students that use the Standard American English with the purpose of differentiating themselves from African-American ways of life (Bucholtz 86).
In summary, language is very critical in the study of different people’s ways of life. It helps them bring out their cultural differences through talking about their culture and other people’s ways of life both positively and negatively.
Bucholtz, Mary. “The Whiteness of Nerds: Superstandard English and Racial Markedness.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 11.1(2001):84-100. Print.
Dick, Hilary and Kristina Wirtz. “Racializing Discourse.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 21.1 (2011):1-10. Print.
Gaudion, Rudolf. “Sounding Gay: Pitch Properties in the Speech of Gay and Straight Men.” American Speech 69.1 (1994): 30-57. Print.
Kiesling, Scot. “Stances of Whiteness and Hegemony in Fraternity Men’s Discourse.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 11.1(2001): 101-115. Print.