Language & Community How Language Circumscribes The Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Communication - Language Type: Essay Paper: #49759315 Related Topics: Languages, English Language, Subculture, Communication Disorder
Excerpt from Essay :

Language & Community

How Language Circumscribes the World and Defines Community

The famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." Wittgenstein used his language to make this profound statement packed with a depth of meaning. Language, whether it is written language, spoken language, body language or sign language, is a fundamental aspect to the human condition. Language permits us to communicate with others, which is also a vital part of being human. Language also makes possible thought, speech, and writing. Without language, it would be exceedingly difficult for people to have relationships. Language comes in various forms and in huge varieties. Language additionally is a critical and prominent aspect to the definition of a culture. Every culture and subculture has characteristics that distinguish it as such; language is a characteristic at the forefront of defining or circumscribing cultures and communities. This paper will reflect upon an instance when a former co-worker of mine, in efforts to participate in a subculture, embarrassed herself and alienated people who once called her a friend.

About a year and a half ago, I had a part time job working with autistic teenagers. It was mainly sitting with them while they did their assignments, or playing video games with...


Sometimes I would have to supervise them as they got a drink from the water fountain or went to the bathroom. The main purpose of the job was to be a supportive staff member to the head teacher, therapists, and be a sort of older sibling to the kids at the school, even though I was not much older than some of them. Some of them were my age and older, but because of their disorder, they had to be placed into Special Education or alternative high schools, like the one where I worked.

Many of the teachers and assistants were friendly to each other. We would socialize after school when the kids went home, and sometimes went out together at a bar/restaurant next door to the school. There were many different kinds of people who worked there: Caribbean, European, Asian, Caucasian, homosexual, bi-sexual, single, married, engaged, etc. Thus, there was a great deal of crosscultural interaction, most of which was very pleasant and really interesting. One day after the kids got on the busses to go home, several of us congregated in one of the teacher's classrooms: his named was Robert. Robert is African-American. Daniel was also there: he is Caucasian and has a Dominican fiancee. Carmen was there, too, and she is Puerto Rican and Colombian. Tierra was also there and she is African-American, too. Finally, Hemendra, who is Guyanese Indian with a Caucasian wife and David, who is also Caucasian and had a black girlfriend, was there, too -- and of course, me.

We were all talking and laughing casually, probably venting about the day, when Monica, the art teacher entered the room. She is Israeli. By that time, most of us had worked together for at least a year, and even if not, we were becoming a fairly tightly knit group. Monica was very popular and attractive. She walked in during our conversation and because of how the tables were arranged and how we were situated in the room, she only saw the African-Americans who happened to be fairly close together. She…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bucholtz, M. (1999) "Why be normal?": Language and identity practices in a community of nerd girls. Language in Society, 28(2), 203 -- 223.

Eckert, P., & McConnell-Ginet, S. (19992) Think Practically and Look Locally: Language and Gender as Community-Based Practice. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21, 461 -- 490.

Garrod, S., & Doherty, G. (1994) Conversation, co-ordination and convention: an empirical investigation of how groups establish linguistic conventions. Cognition, 181 -- 215.

Ochs, E. (1993) Constructing Social Identity: A Language Socialization Perspective. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 26(3), 287 -- 306.

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