UNIT 3 Critical Literacy, Communication and Interaction 1

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UNIT 3 Critical Literacy, Communication and Interaction 1

On language and discourse

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UNIT 3 Critical Literacy, Communication and Interaction 1

  1. 1. Critical Literacy, Communication & interaction 1 (GE3A)<br />University of Aruba<br />FAS: SW&D / OG&M<br />September 22, 2009<br />UNIT 3<br />1<br />
  2. 2. Today&apos;s Program:<br />Questions about the first assignment?<br />Reflection on where we are now, connecting the dots between units 1, 2 and 3<br />Focusing on the theme of unit 3<br />2<br />
  3. 3. Reflection on where we are now [1]:<br />[UNIT 1] Human beings are social, they communicate and make sense of their selves and their world through codes (codes represent here messages, ideas, conventions, rules etc.)<br />Properties of communication process :<br />Is dynamic<br />Is contextual (multilayered effect of diverse contexts)<br />Is both intentional (with a specific purpose/function) and unintentional (focus course: intention)<br />Ubiquitous (omnipresent)<br />Cultural <br />Shapes and re-shapes our identities<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Reflection on where we are now [2]:<br />Special focus on the following properties of communication process in this course:<br />Is interactive and transactive<br />Is symbolic in nature <br />Interactive and transactive:<br />Sender and receiver interaction is based on encoding and decoding of messages<br />Messages are composed of codes <br />Negotiation of meaning, interpretation and identity<br />4<br />
  5. 5. Reflection on where we are now [3]:<br />Symbolic in nature:<br />Symbolic = an arbitrarily selected and learned stimulus that represents something else. There isn’t a natural relationship between the symbol and what with it represents. Both verbal as non-verbal symbols are arbitrary!<br />Symbols are the vehicle by which the thoughts and ideas of one person can be communicated to another person.<br />We approach these symbols in the form of codes<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Reflection on where we are now [4]:<br />Sender and receiver [in the broad sense of the concept] communicate with each other through a process of encoding and decoding messages (dynamic, transactive, interactive and symbolic)<br />Messages are composed by codes<br />Properties of codes (Fiske, 1991, see next sheet):<br />6<br />
  7. 7. Properties of Codes (Fiske, 1991)<br />7<br />Codes are systemized (language, sentences, words, alphabet, agreement upon meaning of arbitrary signs: A B etc.) (verbal/non-verbal codes)<br />All codes convey meaning: they are vehicles for messages, ideas, rules <br />Codes depend upon agreement amongst their user and upon a shared sociocultural background<br />All codes perform an identifiable social or communicative function<br />All codes are transmittable by their appropriate media or channels of communication<br />
  8. 8. Reflection on where we are now [5]:<br />Bridging Unit 1Unit 2<br />[UNIT 2] Being ‘literate’ means here, being aware of and being able to deal with these codes (coding and decoding process) (understanding the world and who you are in this world)<br />Concept Literacy:<br />Not merely approached as a basic cognitive skill implying reading, writing, speaking and listening<br />But as a broader concept : interdisciplinary <br />How people use literacy is tied up with the particular details of the situation and that literacy events are particular to a specific community at a specific point in history <br />8<br />
  9. 9. When approaching Literacy:<br />Literacy practices are situated in broader social relations<br />Literacy is a symbolic system used both for communicating with others and for representing the world to ourselves<br />Attitudes and awareness are important aspects of literacy<br />Issues of power are important <br />Current literacy events and practices are created out of the past<br />Changing definitions in time (new times call for new literacies)<br />9<br />
  10. 10. CL: Taking a ‘Critical Stance’<br />10<br />Our quest in becoming literate involves reaching the state of critical literacy:<br />CL: the ability to be aware of, analyze, understand and evaluate communication utterances. It entails the ability to interpret the intentions (of the sender), the contents and the effects that messages have on receivers.<br />CL involves an active, challenging approach to reading and textual practices. CL involves the analysis and critique of the relationship among texts, language, power, social groups and social practices<br />
  11. 11. 11<br />
  12. 12. Focus: Language as the system of codes<br />12<br />UNIT 1UNIT 2UNIT 3<br />[UNIT 1] We communicate through ‘codes’<br />[UNIT 2] Being ‘Literate’ means being able to understand these different ‘codes’<br />[UNIT 3] When addressing the verbal code in this course, we focus on language. Language as a system of symbols used solely to communicate<br />
  13. 13. 13<br />UNIT 3: <br />The verbal code, <br />Human Language<br />
  14. 14. LANGUAGE<br />14<br /> The study of language provides a window into the workings of the mind, and bears on issues of how the mind represents meaning, how we interpret and understand the world<br />Mind<br />Language<br />Communication<br />Meaning<br />
  15. 15. Menu Unit 3:<br />15<br />The phenomena Language, Language as a (tangible, physical) system for communication<br />Language as a window to the mind (internal representations of the world)<br />(Metaphorical nature of the mind (conceptual metaphorsnext UNIT) <br />‘Down the Rabbit Hole’: with the words and sentences we leave the domain of language as a system of signs and enter into the another universe, that of language as an instrument of communication, whose expression is discourse<br />
  16. 16. [SEMANTICS] the study of meaning<br />16<br />Popular expression: “It’s a case of mere semantics”<br /> To capture and study the intangible process of meaning [and its negotiation] we have to work on the level of language<br />The study of <br />negotiation of meaning<br />
  17. 17. Steve Pinker defines ‘semantics’ (2007):<br />17<br />“ Semantics is about the relation of words to thoughts, but it is also about the relation of words to other human concerns. Semantics is about the relation of words to reality –the way speakers commit themselves to a shared understanding of the truth, and the way thoughts are anchored to things and situations in the world. It is about the relation of words to a community- <br />(“) how a new word, which arises in a act of creation by a single speaker, comes to evoke the same idea in the rest of a population, so people can understand one another when they use it. <br />(“) It is about the relation of words to emotions: the way in which words don’t just point to things but are saturated with feelings, which can endow the words with a sense of magic, taboo, and sin.<br />(“) And it is about words and social relations –how people use language not just to transfer ideas from head to head but to negotiate the kind of relationship they wish to have with their conversational partner” (extracted from ‘The stuff of thought’ Steve Pinker, 2008)<br />
  18. 18. Functions of Language (Jackobson, 1960):<br />18<br /> The constant engagement with meaning relies on the assumption that people do not produce texts at random and without any purpose but have specific intentions to communicate and certain goals to achieve. Language is capable of realizing numerous functions:<br />Referential function: conveying information<br />Emotive function: expressing inner states<br />Phatic function: establishing or maintaining a channel of communication (‘Ta hasicalor awe’)<br />
  19. 19. Functions of Language (Jackobson, 1960):<br />19<br />Poetic function: when the choice of the form is the essence of our message<br />Metalinguistic function: when the language talks about itself (e.g. The word ‘computer’ means…)<br />Directive function: seeking to affect the behavior of the addressee (e.g. ‘Come back’)<br />Contextual function: framing communication as a particular kind (e.g. ‘Let’s start our discussion by…’)<br />In additional to these functions, there are numerous others such as: requesting, offering, apologizing, pleading, complimenting, advising, warning etc.<br /> “WE DO THINGS WITH LANGUAGE. LANGUAGE IS (SOCIAL) ACTION” <br />
  20. 20. The structure of Human Language (1)<br />20<br />= a systematic set of sounds, combined with a set of rules, for the sole purpose creating meaning and communicating. <br />These sounds are representing symbolically in the language’s alphabet, this is called phonemes. There is no natural relationship between sounds and their accompanying alphabet (e.g. there is no natural relationship between the letter ‘c’ and the sound ‘see’)<br />When combined, phonemes become words (=morphemes). (There is also no natural relationship between the word cat and the fuzzy little animal)<br />
  21. 21. The structure of Human Language (2)<br />21<br />All languages have a set of rules for combining the sounds to create meaning. This set of rules is called syntax or grammar<br />Through syntax, sentences are generated. Through syntax, sound and meaning are connected.<br />Chomsky: although the approx. 5000 languages that are spoken in the world today appear to be very different, they are in fact, remarkably similar. “All languages spoken today are all dialects of one common language –human language (Universal Grammar)<br />
  22. 22. Universal Grammar (1)<br />22<br />Chomsky argues that all human languages share a universal grammar that is innate in the human species and culturally invariant. <br />Every normal child is genetically programmed for human language. (just like humans are programmed to walk upright, so are humans programmed for human language) (in this sense, language is as much part as the human brain as the thumb is part of the hand)<br />Humans come to the world according to Chomsky already equipped with language.<br />
  23. 23. Universal grammar (2):<br />23<br />Humans are not born with any specific language such as English, Spanish or Papiamento.<br />They are born with universal grammar, that is, a deep-seated set of rules (i.e. syntax) that all languages in the world follow in some way or another.<br />Humans do, however learn a specific language. The acquisition of a particular language (e.g. Papiamento) is influenced by the specific cultural environment in which a child is born/raised.<br />
  24. 24. “Down the rabbit hole”<br />24<br />
  25. 25. 25<br />
  26. 26. 26<br />Introducing Discourse<br />
  27. 27. Language as social practice:<br />27<br />Reality=Social Practice (action, experience)<br /><br />Represented in Discourse<br />
  28. 28. The study of discourse<br />28<br />Language as a means of constructing realities.<br />Unit of analysis for this: Discourse.<br />Discourse as actual instances of communication in the medium of language. Discourse as “socially constructed knowledges of some aspect of reality” (Foucault) <br />Discourse analysis offer the possibility of understanding how language permeates human affairs. <br />Discourse= an extended stretch of connected speech or writing, a text.<br />Discourse Analysis: the analysis of an extended text, or type of text<br />
  29. 29. [Socially constructed knowledges]<br />29<br />These knowledges have been developed in specific social contexts, and in ways which are appropriate to the interests of social actors in these contexts<br />Contexts: large (e.g. a company, the socialistic ideology) or small (e.g. family, between best friends) or institutionalized (e.g. mass media).<br />Discourses are resources for representation, knowledges about some aspect of reality, which can be drawn upon when that aspect has to be represented. <br />Frameworks for making sense out of things <br />Plurality of discourse: there can be several different ways of knowing -and hence also of representing- the same ‘object’ of knowledge. Different ways of making sense of the same aspect of reality, which can include or exclude different things, and serve different interests. <br />
  30. 30. [Socially Constructed Knowledges]<br />30<br />Evidence for the existence of a given discourse comes from texts, from what has been said or written. <br />More specifically it comes from the similarity between the things that are said and written in different texts about the same aspect of reality<br />It is on the basis of such similar statements, repeated or paraphrased in different texts and dispersed among these texts in different ways, that we can reconstruct the knowledge which they represent<br />
  31. 31. e.g. Discourses about Animals<br />31<br />Animals as living creatures, cute creatures, pets. They have feelings (anti abuse of animals)<br />
  32. 32. Animals as petsAnti abuse of Animals<br />32<br />
  33. 33. Animals as delicious food<br />33<br />
  34. 34. Totem power of Animals<br />34<br />Evoking the spiritual power of animals (shamanic cultures)<br />
  35. 35. Properties of Discourse (1)<br />35<br />Discourse are finite:<br />“ Discourse contain a limited number of statements (Foucault, 1977)<br />(‘’) Bits of knowledge are shared between many people and recur time and time again in a wide range of different types of texts and communicative events, even if they are not always formulated in the same way and not always complete.<br />(‘’)But, once you know a discourse, a single part of it can trigger the rest…<br />
  36. 36. Properties of Discourse (2)<br />36<br />Discourses have a history<br />Discourses have a social distribution (=discursive formation)(belong to a certain relating theme: e.g. ‘animals as pets’ is not the same theme as ‘animals as food’)<br />Discourses can be realized in different ways (can be realized through action (e.g. animals have feelings  anti animal abuse attitude) or through the representation of such way of life (e.g. being a vegetarian)<br />
  37. 37. Social constructed?<br />37<br />There is a relation between discourses and social activities<br />Understanding is ultimately based on doing, our understandings derive from our doings. But discourses transform these practices in ways which safeguard the interests at stake in a given social context.<br />DiscourseDoing: What? Why? Plus ideas and attributes<br />Actual example: Status Aparte: LGO? UPG?influences the social act voting<br />
  38. 38. Discourse  Doing: What? Why? Plus ideas and attributes<br />38<br />Ideas and attributes:<br />Evaluations: a value<br />Purposes<br />Legitimating: reasons why particular things should be done in particular ways, by particular people, etc. (advertising, political discourse  the art of persuasion ) <br />
  39. 39. The Anatomy of Discourse (1)<br />39<br />Actions: the things people do, the activities that make up the social practice and their chronological order<br />Manner: the way in which (some of or all of) the actions are performed. (e.g. slowly, energetically, graciously, based on anger)<br />Actors: people (also animals) involved in the practice, and then different roles in which they are involved (for instance active and passive roles)<br />Presentation: is the way in which actors are dressed and groomed. All social pratices have their rules of presentation, although they differ in kind and degree of strictness<br />
  40. 40. The Anatomy of Discourse (2)<br />40<br />Resources: the tools and materials needed to enact a social practice<br />Times: Inevitably social practices are timed, they take place at certain times, and they last for certain amounts of time<br />Spaces: the spaces where the social action takes place, including the way they should be arranged to make the practice possible<br />In reality all these elements must be part of the way a social practice is actually enacted. But texts/discourses may include only some of them, and so do the discourses on which these texts draw their content. Knowledge is selective and what it selects depends on the interests and purposes of the sender(s) (institutions) that have foster the knowledge<br />
  41. 41. Social practices represented inWritten texts:<br />41<br />Written texts include only 2 elements of the social practice, the actions and the medium through which they are realized. <br />Not represented are the writer and the reader, and the circumstances of writing and reading –time, place and grooming etc-<br />
  42. 42. How is reality changed into discourse?<br />42<br />4 basic types of transformation of reality:<br />Exclusion: discourses can exclude elements of social practice<br />Rearrangement: Discourses can rearrange the elements of social practices, for instance when it ‘detemporalizes’ elements which in reality have a specific order, or when it imposes a specific order on actions which in reality do not need to take place in any specific order<br />Addition: discourses can add elements to the representation (purposes, evaluations, legitimations)<br />Substitution: discourse substitutes concepts with other concepts<br />

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