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Unit 4 Encoding Messages: Spoken Language

Recap the following theoretical issues.

1. Dwell on the notion of language, its main characteristics and kinds.

2. What is a sign? In what way does a symbol differ from other signs?

3. In what way does language affect our thought? What is linguistic determinism? What is linguistic relativity? Provide examples.

4. What forms can a language take?

5. What makes up the communicative context?

6. What is discourse? What are the characteristics of conversation as a private form of talk? State the defining characteristics of public discourse.

7. How does our gender and cultural identity affect communication?

8. What linguistic choices can assist in achieving the pragmatic effect? What is the communicative role of such linguistic phenomena as ambiguity, immediacy, abstraction, figurative language (metaphors etc.)?

9. What should communicators bear in mind when encoding messages?

Task 1. More than Words

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “More than Words” by D.N. Wilson and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

1. How are the following features of language reflected in the story – language is symbolic, language is a kind of knowledge, language is rule-governed and productive?

2. Why was it difficult for Cyrus to decode the message written in an ancient language at first? Dwell on the complications associated with the process of decoding. What hepled Cyrus to decipher the unfamiliar symbols in the end?

3. Find episodes in the text proving that language affects the way we see the world.

4. Relying on the text, prove that language is evolving. In what way are the ancient dialects that Cyrus heard different from the modern language(s)?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Do you agree that language can exert power over people? Prove your point.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative episode in the story from the point of view of language, its functions and characteristics.

Task 2. Choices and Change: Commencement Address

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the speech given by Barbara Bush at Severance Green, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts for Commencement on June 1, 1990, and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode under consideration.

Choices and Change: Commencement Address

By B. Bush

First Lady of the United States

Thank you President Keohane, Mrs. Gorbachev, Trustees, faculty, parents, Julie Porter, Christine Bicknell and the Class of 1990. I am thrilled to be with you today, and very excited, as I know you must all be, that Mrs. Gorbachev could join us.

More than ten years ago when I was invited here to talk about our experiences in the people’s republic of China, I was struck by both the natural beauty of your campus ... and the spirit of this place.

Wellesley, you see, is not just a place ... but an idea ... an experiment in excellence in which diversity is not just tolerated, but is embraced.

The essence of this spirit was captured in a moving speech about tolerance given last year by the student body President of one of your sister colleges. She related the story by Robert Fulghum about a young pastor who, finding himself in charge of some very energetic children, hit upon a game called “Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs.” “You have to decide now,” the pastor instructed the children, “which you are ... a giant, a wizard or a dwarf?” At that, a small girl tugging on his pants leg, asked, “But where do the mermaids stand?”

The pastor told her there are no mermaids. “Oh yes there are,” she said. “I am a mermaid.”

This little girl knew what she was and she was not about to give up on either her identity or the game. She intended to take place wherever mermaids fit into the scheme of things. Where do the mermaids stand … all those who are different, those who do not fit the boxes and the pigeonholes? “Answer that question,” wrote Fulghum, “and you can build a school, a nation, or a whole world on it.”

As that very wise young woman said... “diversity... like anything worth having... requires effort.” Effort to learn about and respect difference, to be compassionate with one another, to cherish our own identity… and to accept unconditionally the same in all others.

You should all be very proud that this is the Wellesley spirit. Now I know your first choice for today was Alice Walker, known for The Color Purple. Instead you got me – known for... the color of my hair! Of course, Alice Walker’s book has a special resonance here. At Wellesley, each class is known by a special color... and for four years the Class of ‘90 has worn the color purple. Today you meet on Severance Green to say goodbye to all that... to begin a new and very personal journey... a search for your own true colors.

In the world that awaits you beyond the shores of Lake Waban, no one can say what your true colors will be. But this I know: You have a first class education from a first class school. And so you need not, probably cannot, live a “paint-by numbers” life. Decisions are not irrevocable. Choices do come back. As you set off from Wellesley, I hope that many of you will consider making three very special choices.

The first is to believe in something larger than yourself... to get involved in some of the big ideas of your time. I chose literacy because I honestly believe that if more people could read, write and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems plaguing our society.

Early on I made another choice which I hope you will make as well. Whether you are talking about education, career or service, you are talking about life... and life must have joy. It’s supposed to be fun.

One of the reasons I made the most important decision of my life… to marry George Bush... is because he made me laugh. It’s true, sometimes we’ve laughed through our tears... but that shared laughter has been one of our strongest bonds. Find the joy in life, because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off... “Life moves pretty fast. Ya don’t stop and look around once in a while, ya gonna miss it!”

The third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family. For several years, you’ve had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work. This is true, but as important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer or business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections – with spouses, with children, with friends – are the most important investments you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent.

We are in a transitional period right now ... fascinating and exhilarating times... learning to adjust to the changes and the choices we... men and women... are facing. I remember what a friend said, on hearing her husband lament to his buddies that he had to babysit. Quickly setting him straight my friend told her husband that when it’s your own kids it’s not called babysitting!

Maybe we should adjust faster, maybe slower, but whatever the era... whatever the times, one thing will never change: fathers and mothers, if you have children they must come first. Your success as a family... our success as a society depends not on what happens at the White House, but on what happens inside your house.

For over 50 years, it was said that the winner of Wellesley’s Annual Hoop Race would be the first to get married. Now they say the winner will be the first to

become a C.E.O. Both of these stereotypes show too little tolerance for those who want to know where mermaids stand. So I offer you today a new legend: the winner of the Hoop Race will be the first to realize her dream... not society’s dream… her own personal dream. And who knows? Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President’s spouse. I wish him well!

The controversy ends here. But our conversation is only beginning. And a worthwhile conversation it is. So as you leave Wellesley today, take with you deep thanks for the courtesy and honor you have shared with Mrs. Gorbachev and me. Thank you. God bless you. And may your future be worthy of your dreams.


1. Is this speech task-oriented or relations-oriented? Give your reasons.

2. The speaker provides examples from her personal life. Are they appropriate in the given situation? Is relying on one’s personal experience when delivering a speech on a formal occasion effective?

3. Find examples of figurative language and abstractions in the speech.

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Suppose you did not know the speech was given by a woman. Think what language peculiarities could help you understand it.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the speech from the point of view of language and the communicative context. Decide which type of discourse the speech represents. Enumerate and analyse the main characteristics of the given type of discourse.

Task 3. The Promise

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “The Promise” by W.S. Maugham and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. Does the author and Lady Vermont belong to the same social class? How is it reflected in their conversation?

2. What topic did they choose for their conversation and why? Was it an appropriate one?

3. Did the author manage to hide his actual aim of communication? In her turn, did Lady Vermont manage to conceal her real feelings?

4. Analyse the conversational closing.

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Which type of discourse does the conversation in the short story represent? Prove your point of view.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative situation described in the story from the point of view of speech acts, episodes, relationship between the participants, their life scripts and cultural pattern.

Task 4. A Happy Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following magazine article and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

A Happy Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom

By D. P. Olsen

You made the decision to quit your job, but now you’ve discovered that being with your baby isn’t quite as easy as you expected. How to make a smooth transition from working to a happy life as a stay-at-home mom.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I remember getting off the train at the end of the workday and seeing women with kids waiting for their dads. The moms watched happily as the children greeted the men with smiles and hugs. That ritual seemed wonderful to me, and I couldn’t wait to be a stay-at-home mom.

Little did I know how difficult the transition from working to being at home would be. When my daughter was an in­fant, the mere thought of taking her to the train station at the end of the day exhausted me. Besides, it was usually dark ay the time my husband got home, and Caroline was in her pajamas, and I was conked out on the couch.

In retrospect, I realize that my expectations for stay-at-home motherhood were a little too romantic. I didn’t con­sider that I’d actually miss the structure of a workday and the company of my colleagues, I also didn’t realize how de­manding – and time-consuming – taking care of a baby full-time could be. That’s not to say I ever regretted my decision to quit my job: I believe that raising 2-year-old Caroline and 4-month-old Alexander is the most, important thing I can be doing right now and being home with them is de­finitely the right choice for me. But the transition would have been easier it I had been prepared for the challenges of the first difficult months. Here are: some of the issues that I and other moms struggled with – and how we have found happiness at home.

Help! I’m lonely and bored!”

With days dictated by feed­ings, diapers, and naps. many women find that life with an infant can be iso­lating – and monotonous. “For a while, it seemed as if I was doing nothing but waving the same toys in my son’s face day after day,” says Rebecca Russo, of Red Bank, New Jersey, a former physical therapist and the mom of Joey, 18 months. Her feelings of boredom and loneliness lifted as soon as she found some activities for her­self and her son: Russo now partici­pates in a discussion group for new moms and takes a “Mommy-and-Me” swim class. “Those things have been a lifesaver.” she says.

Experts say that making new friends – or keeping in touch with old ones – can keep you from feel­ing frustrated. But its important to connect with people you enjoy being around – not merely women who have kids the same age as yours. “A lot of the moms I met after my daughter was born were obsessed with talking about their children all the time,” says Stacy Schreier Baum, a former recruiter and the mother of Samantha, 2, “I like talking about my daughter too, but I have plenty of other interests.”

The Richmond, Virginia, mom mentioned her concerns to some close friends, and they decided to put together a moms’ night out – no talking about kids allowed.

I’m busy, but I don’t get very much done,”

Many women assume that: once they’re home, they’ll be able to keen their house clean and organized. Well, it’s possible – but only if you have a full-time babysitter or house­keeper. “I expected to have plenty of time to do the laundry, go grocery shopping, make meals, and keep the house in perfect shape,” says Rita Feitoti-Mitchell, of Chicago, a former teacher and the mother of Kyra, 2. “But my daughter needs attention. I’m busy, but I sometimes feel as though I’m not accomplishing much.”

Other moms are surprised that they don’t have as much quality time with their kids as they’d honed. “I thought we’d always be going to the park, or baking cookies, or doing craft projects,” says Beth Gance-Virkler, of Apalachin, New York, a former elemen­tary-school guidance coun­selor and the mom of Rusty, 5, Shelby, 4, and Avery, 18 months. “But there are plenty of days when we don’t do any­thing fun.”

According to Mary Quigley coauthor of And What Do You Do? When Women Choose to Stay Home, many women ex­pect to be Supermom when they’re home full-rime. “Then they discover how demanding taking care of a baby can be and are disappointed when they can’t accomplish everything they’d planned.” she says.

But experts emphasize that raising children is a tough job. and that women should cut themselves slack when it comes to domestic chores “Laundry can wait,” says Lisa Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychol­ogy at Columbia University Teachers College, in New York City. “You’re home to be a mother, not a maid.” It also helps to remember that being a good mother doesn’t mean providing your child with a crammed schedule of outings, entertainment, and activities: Your child benefits from your day-to-day presence – even if you re Joins; nothing at all.

My husband and I are no longer equals.”

New moms are often surprised to discover that the power balance in their marriage shirts alter they quit their jobs. Couples who once shared household duties sometimes revert to a traditional distribution of chores. “The longer I was home, the more my husband started to expect of me, and before I knew it, I was doing practically everything around the house,” Maynard says.

Tracy Todd. Ph.D. a marriage and family therapist in Westminster. Colorado, says communication between spouses is key. “Men are often more willing to take on household duties if they know it will reduce stress and increase the amount of quality time they can spend with their wife.”

That’s what happened with May­nard, who brought up the issue with her husband. “We eventually re­negotiated who does which house­hold chores,” she says.

I can’t slow down,”

Many new moms agree that the toughest challenge of at-home life is learning how to relax and ease into a different way of life. “I was so accus­tomed to always being fast and effi­cient at work,” says Jenny Roberts, of Glenview, Illinois, a former attorney and the mom of Abby, 5 and Katie, 3. “It took a while for me to not have a long list of things to get done around the house.”

Overtime, most women discover the pleasures of downtime. “I’ve learned to enjoy the little things – like sitting on the floor with my lads waiting for the cookies to bake,” says Roberts, “A few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined I’d be doing that.” Indeed, after an initial adjustment, I discovered that being an at-home mom was everything I’d expected it to be – and more. Now I truly ap­preciate the rhythm of my life, which revolves around playgroups, volun­teer activities, and stroller walks, in­stead of power lunches, meetings, and train schedules. And I’ve learned to savor every moment of this pre­cious time in my children’s lives.

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