Conversational Narcissism in the Classroom

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In the Introduction to Linguistics class last week, Professor Ivanoff asked if the students had any questions about the material he had just discussed in his lecture. The preceding lecture covered marked words (words that clearly define or describe only one object). A student who seemed confused asked Professor Ivanoff how the use of marked words was connected to our study of Linguistics.A student said, "Everyone knows that when you say table, a table is something with four legs and a flat surface. So table is a marked word. In a sense we already knew that because we don't go around calling everything a table." The student asked, "Is this just a definition or will it be explained further at a later time?""I do not understand why you are asking such a question," Professor Ivanoff said. "I just explained to you what marked and unmarked words are. Why do you ask such a question?""I am just wondering why you told us about marked words. How is it important in our study?" the student asked."I explained it to you. There are marked words and there are unmarked words. Marked words describe definite things. Unmarked words are words that can be used to define more than one thing," Professor Ivanoff shouted. "You ask such strange questions. I hold a Ph.D. in linguistics. Why do you question my authority on such subject?"The student tried to explain one more time, "I am not questioning your authority at all. I am just wandering what the connection is between marked words and Ling-."Professor Ivanoff interrupted, "If you want to question my authority you do so in my office. Please do not waste class time."Unknowingly Professor Ivanoff and the student provided a perfect example of "Conversational Narcissism" and how continued habits can hinder the process of "true" dialogue. Conversational Narcissism uses "structural" devices to dominate the conversation and shift the attention from one partner to another. The shift...
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