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Your Use of Language Sends Out Lots of Little Messages, Not Only Just About Your Level of Education and Where You Come from, but How You Would Like to Be Perceived.

In: English and Literature

Submitted By rhysdelinac
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-----------Essay l0lz get it? (mehican gangster)

Your use of language sends out lots of little messages, not only just about your level of education and where you come from, but how you would like to be perceived.

The use of language one uses sends out messages of how the speaker wants to be perceived by others or to the speaker him/herself. People can rapidly change their language depending on situation and context, in the public eye one will choose their language to create an identity or sell a point of view toward how they would like to be perceived. Language can be a determiner of your level of education or a locational marker but these ‘common traits’ are usually quite generalized and will change depending whether an individual is trying to achieve an overt or covert prestige within a group or greater public.

Many Australians who have come from overseas speak in an ethnolect; the variety of English these people speak that promotes maintaining or increasing social distance and stresses common bonds, experiences and knowledge between the speakers. It is a way for these migrants to keep their accent and embrace their culture because this is how they would like to be perceived by their cultural groups and how the migrant themself wants to be perceived. A good example of this is the ethnolect variety “wogspeak” (term coined by Jane Warren) which is spoken mainly by ethnic groups of Lebanese and European. Jane Warren states that “Language plays an essential role in the development and expression of such bicultural identities..”. What this is saying is these ethnic groups feel the need to express both their Australian identity but also their cultural heritage, which they may feel they will lose and speaking in ethnolect or “wogspeak” is a way of emphasizing in-group identity.

An interesting group on this perception and identity is teens and teenspeak. Some have stated that the way teens are perceived (probably by an older generation) is less than impressive, to say that “teenagers commonly complete secondary school without a firm grasp on how to construct a complex sentence” (The Age) is how they are perceived by these people, but, between the teenagers they have achieved a covert prestige by using simple sentences and slang terms has made for ease of communication especially within the online version where abbraviations and acronyms are employed a lot. Best of all this helps teenspeak to be very expressive, eg, “totally”, “OMG” etc. these expressive functions are often seen as more important than being ‘correct’ within the teen community and this comes down to how they are being perceived by their peers. When it comes down to visiting your grandma, many of these features are turned off and teenagers are able to construct a normal sentence without using ‘like’ and ‘totally’ 3 times during the sentence.

Using slang creates a covert prestige, being perceived to be cool by the in-group is what you are aiming to achieve. On the contrary, using jargonistic terminology can be employed to impress the listeners with your prestigious lexemes and syntactic structure and create an overt prestige; being perceived as an intelligent human. For example when going for a job interview you can use jargon to your advantage because you want to be perceived as knowledgeable on the specific field or trade, “I have performed many colonoscopies, coronary artery bypass grafts, circumcisions and liposuctions in my previous employment so I will be perfect for the job” as appose to saying “hey mate, yeeah, naaah I’ve done like, heaps of the one where you shove the little camera up his bum aaaaaaaaand where you unblock his thingy, cutting off the top of his willy and sucking girls tummy’s to make them skinny and they all turned out heaps good”

In a political setting overt prestige can be used so the individual is perceived as intelligent and powerful, but sometimes speaking in a broader accent can benefit the speaker, for example, former prime minister Bob Hawke had a very strong broad Australian accent and this worked for him because he could portray the Australian way of life through his use of language; mateship, honesty, friendly, approachable and masculinity. Hawke kept the broadness of his accent even though he was a Rhode Scholar. Kevin Rudd also employed features of a broader Australian accent when he used dysphemisms in a speech “shit-storm”, to be perceived as an average Australian bloke and make a closer connection to the Australian community. Sometimes the broad in a voice is criticized for example the broad aspect of Julia Gillard has been constantly mocked and criticized by the media and she has gone through elocution lessons so she is perceived to be more intelligent and powerful. This all shows that the language we use is sending out message of how we want to be perceived and is not actually an indication of your level of education.

Steve Irwin ran a multi-million dollar enterprise and spoke with an extremely broad accent and brought back some older Australian slang terms like “crikey”, he exploited the Australian accent to promote himself and to target patriotism of Australians. Therefore one’s use of language send out the message of national Identity and patriotism, “nothing unites a country more than its common language because from a language comes a history and culture” was quoted by John Howard. Australian English is a great expresser of national identity as it is filled with idioms, an Australian’s “greatest talent is for idiomatic invention. It is a manifestation of our vitality and restless imagination” (Baker S 1983, A Dictionary of Australian Slang) eg. Rhyming slang is an idiomatic expression when a word is replaced by a word that rhymes with the intended word “dead horse” for sauce. These features all employ a sense of mateship, friendliness and playfulness, etc.

An individual’s use of language sends out lots of little messages of how we want to be perceived and these can all change in a minute depending on the context or situation. As Jane Warren explains “I rarely see my school friends these days… I was talking to Yannackers over the phone about two weeks ago… We easily fell into wogspeak”.

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