We have spent a significant amount of the course discussing race and language. Coming into the class I thought I had a pretty well developed knowledge of both of these topics, but the material we have studied has forced an awareness to appear that I did not know I was lacking. My misconceptions and ignorance about notions in relation to language became especially prevalent. Beginning with George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” my ideas of my own language began to evolve as I was exposed to how words can be manipulated and misused. While concluding with: “Nah, We Straight”: An Argument Against Code Switching and “If Black English isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?” caused me to be faced with the question of what makes something a language, my own fallacies about speech in my own country, and an unconscious righteousness I was harboring about the way I spoke.
We first evaluated the way English and language can be used, especially in politics, to create a vagueness so that leaders or politicians do not have to take responsibility for the true meaning of their words. In “Politics and the English Language”, Orwell says that “such phraseology is needed to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.”(Orwell, paragraph 14) to how heads of state can say things that mask the true repercussions of their policies as well as use intelligent sounding speech to inspire but actually mean little. This opened my eyes to how I personally have been influenced by leaders who say things that sound important and grand, but truly mean nothing. As I began to self evaluate my own viewpoints on how language is used it paved a way for This idea led me to become mor...
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...s all languages, and all men, is the necessity to confront life, in order, not inconceivably, to outwit death: The price for this is the acceptance, and achievement, of one 's temporal identity.”. He relates language to a person’s self identity. This ties in with Young’s point about how subconsciously shaming one’s language shames their identity.
My thoughts on race and language expanded immensely over this semester. The way I viewed language also affected how I experienced and perceived race. This caught me off guard. It was a strange idea that I had not considered beforehand. I now view language as such an important part of our culture that has a large influence on equality and how our country treats minorities. This evolution of thought helped me begin to comprehend the complexity of language that I hope to continue to explore in my future studies.
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