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The power of language

March 28, 2016
Julia Lee  Academy of the Canyons  11th Grade

Julia Lee
Academy of the Canyons
11th Grade

Language is present in our lives on a daily basis. We use it to communicate, both in writing and in speech.

Each word has a distinct meaning. Words are very powerful because they convey feelings and meanings. For example, without language, a person could feel general discomfort in the presence of another. With a developed vocabulary, that general discomfort can transform into a vengeance fueled by hatred. Likewise, a person could feel general warmth with another, but with words, the warmth transforms into a unrelenting, unconditional love. Words influence emotions by giving it meaning and descriptions to further develop it.

The words we see, hear and say shape the people we become. We become more inclined to say or think different things. For example, in the Korean language, there is a formal way of speaking. There’s a distinction between speaking with elders and superiors as opposed to friends and family. Likewise, in Korean culture, there tends to be a clear superior and subordinate relationship in the workplace. English; however, has no clear distinction between formal or informal language. As such, Western Cultures tend to see superiors as co-workers rather than bosses.

Language does not necessarily mean that people think differently. There are certain actions and thoughts that transcend language. However, language does change the way we perceive or describe the events that happen around us. With different interpretations, people look at the world in a variety of ways. Languages give words to our thoughts, and different languages shape our thoughts in different ways.

When we identify people, especially different racial groups, it is important to be wary of the words we use. Words such as “them” and “they” used to describe groups of people only encourage people to view others as a separate entity. We are more inclined to discriminate against those who we perceive as different. It becomes easier to describe different racial groups with derogatory terms. It becomes a reminder of a person’s “inferiority” while elevating our own status. Language is powerful and affects us at a subconscious level.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: The power of language – The Korea Times |...

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