Language in Cultural Context

These are some we will cover over the course of this unit:

Language changes in relationship to time and place. 

Language is not fixed but evolves. Though you may consider yourself fluent in English,  you should recognise that this is an oversimplification and that the English of some communities and cultures will be quite incomprehensible.

Language, culture and context determine the ways in which meaning is constructed in texts

Language is both the tool we use to describe language and a marker of the customs, traditions and beliefs of a culture. The reader is the primary constructor of this meaning.

Meaning comes from complex interactions between the text, the audience and purpose. 

There is an almost seamless relationship between thought and our interaction with others. “The words we use and the statements we make in speech and writing tell us about who we are or want to be” (85). Notice that the writer is less important in this relationship.

Task: Choose a text that is about a field or topic you are very interested in. 

  • Is there any highly specialised language? 
  • Who is the text intended for? (audience).
  • Is there any language that reflects the culture/community (values, beliefs etc.)?

Ain’t I a Woman

Read Sojourners Truth’s speech entitled “Ain’t I a Woman”.

Task: Answer the following questions on her background:

Look back at the three significant concepts from the beginning of the unit. When we consider the issue of authenticity in the text, then third concept becomes quite significant.

  • The text has been manipulated to better meet the purpose. 
  • Consider the audience. How might manipulating the accent affect the audience?



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