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Language and Gender

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Spoken Language

Language is an integral part of our society; it uses a series of systems to convey meaning, thus setting up a discourse community. The surrounding environment plays a major role in our language as a social practice. Language is a form of communication involving an organized system of symbols whether written, spoken or pictures. Language is purposeful, built on shared conventions, shaped by the context and constitutes texts of various sorts and "…language is the source of human life and power" (Fromkin) Language is used to achieve a variety of social purposes: for example, we use it to entertain, to explain how some thing works, to provide information. We also use language to make sense of the world, to express ideas on a range of topics and to interact with various audiences. People need to be able to communicate confidently and appropriately with people of all walks of life: with those who are older or younger, with those in positions of power, with peers and family, with small and large groups. Language plays a very important role in my daily life. It allows me to communicate and exchange meaning with others.

If you are fluent in a language, you probably don't give much thought to your ability to interact with others, to understand and be understood in your world. But what would happen if you lost your voice? Or if suddenly the language skills you have, that is your ability to read, write, and speak, were no longer sufficient to allow you to understand television and newspapers or to tell a waitress what you wanted to eat or a doctor what was wrong with you? What if your language actually caused others to discriminate against you? I suspect your perception of the importance of language would undergo a pronounced change. 2. Recently, I had an experience with language deprivation when I had laryngitis. The three days I was without my voice were frustrating, interminable, and evidence of the power and purpose of language. Early in her essay,...

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