Language is very important to human beings as it helps in holding effective communication (Kulbrandstad, Alstad & Hagen, 2016). More often people are unaware of the vital aspects of language in building good communication and relating with other people. In this case, Svalberg, (2015) defines language awareness as the explicit knowledge of language and its role in human thinking and conducting social life. Language awareness may take many definitions since it covers a broad spectrum, but it generally encompasses exploring the benefits accrued from a concrete understanding of language, being conscious of how language works and understanding how people learn and use language. Therefore, understanding the components and the significance of a good language is vital in creating good relationships within the society (Kulbrandstad, Alstad & Hagen, 2016). In this case, the paper focuses on exploring the concept of language awareness in two essays; "The Language of Prejudice" by Gordon Allport, and "The Perils of Indifference" by Elie Wiesel.
These two readings denote critical insights about prejudice and language. For instance, in his reading, Allport strives to illustrate how language plays a significant role in creating prejudice and discrimination among different groups of people. By language, Allport outlines how people use nouns to describe certain groups of people in a negative way since these names often elicit certain negative emotions (Collins & Clement, 2012). People often assign names to different groups of people in society with the aim of recognizing these groups easily. More often, these name and labels that people give to others are stereotypical, racists, and demeaning. While some people may think that these are just ordinary words, it is not the case; it is a form of prejudice and discrimination. Examples include, 'a black man,' 'the blind woman,' and 'the disabled' among other examples. According to Collins & Clement, (2012), Allport, therefore, strives to show the significance of understanding the hidden meaning of these words to adopt a good language that boots effective communication.
Similarly, Wiesel gives a similar argument in support of the insights presented by Allport. Although Wiesel does not link language and prejudice directly, in his speech, he strives to magnify the importance of empathy during communication with other people. In his speech, Wiesel, therefore, stresses the disadvantages that indifference creates in society (Wiesel, 2019). By indifferent, it means the lack of empathy, concern, and lack of interest in other people's problems. Here, people often use indifferent words (language) while referring to people problems in a manner that creates more damage to suffering. According to Wiesel, people that are indifferent to others often cause more suffering (Wiesel, 2019).
In my opinion, the insights presented by the two readings are very crucial in our day to day lives. The cases of prejudice, discrimination, an indifference are coloring our daily lives, and therefore it is something that needs attention. More often, most people will find it normal to set labels and words that describe specific groups in society. However, based on the readings, it is evident that these labels are demeaning and therefore affect the communication. The language we use to other people whether in words or actions also determine the type of relationships and emotions that we elicit about others. While these cases are common in contemporary society, the reading suggests that it is important to learn the hidden meaning embedded in the language that e sue to create good relationships. Furthermore, these cases are evident even at school where classmates may define an individual student as lazy, rich, poor, or a criminal. These personal experiences thus mirror the insights presented in the two readings.
It is evident that people lack awareness of the understanding of language and its benefits (Svalberg, 2015). Therefore, as Christians and future leaders, we have the responsibilities to create awareness on the concrete understanding and proper use of language to build positive relationships. For this reason, it is essential to show people in the society that some of the words and labels that we consider to be ordinary hurt our relationships. It can be done making people understand language, its uses, benefits, and ways to create effective communication using proper language. Instead of being indifferent and using prejudiced words, people should focus on using language for positive purposes such as providing support to others, showing sympathy, and using a supportive tone (Kulbrandstad, Alstad & Hagen, 2016). It means that people need to learn how to choose the vocabulary wisely in a manner that does not affect other people negatively. For example, as discussed earlier, people often use phrases such as the blind person, the poor, and the blacks. In using language positively, people should consider referring to these people by their names to avoid creating a discriminative emotion.
Following the need to create awareness on the positive uses of language, it is vital to develop a communication plan. Here, I will develop an initiative called language awareness initiative that will aim at teaching people within the society the significance of using language for positive purposes (Svalberg, 2015). The initiative will take the form of campaigns at the social events and setting days where members of the community gather for public rallies. The initiative will, therefore, focus on showing people that the common words that we use often have hidden meanings that create a negative influence on our relationships. Instead, we should focus on choosing our vocabulary wisely while addressing other people to avoid discriminative and offensive languages.
Collins, K. A., & Clement, R. (2012). Language and Prejudice. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 31(4), 376-396. doi: 10.1177/0261927x12446611
Kulbrandstad, L. A., Alstad, G. T., & Hagen, K. (2016). Language awareness - achievements and challenges. Language Awareness, 25(1-2), 1-3. doi: 10.1080/09658416.2015.1122271
Svalberg, A. M. (2015). Language awareness research: where we are now. Language Awareness, 25(1-2), 4-16. doi: 10.1080/09658416.2015.1122027
Wiesel, E. (2019). The history place - Great speeches collection: Elie wiesel speech The perils of indifference. Retrieved from http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/wiesel.htm
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