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Building Things Through Language

DR. Raja Nor Safinas Raja Harun & Miss Noraini Zulkepli

Some basic understanding:


We make or build things through languages. How? e.g. certain cultures make meaning through certain ways practice in life (conventions) In language we use grammar for conventions on how to speak and write Each time a person use the conventions he/she is said to be grammatical

Some Examples:
How do we make sense of the following: Example 1: When a judge says in the court, Overrule or sustain Example 2: When a policeman says to you, Please show me your license Example 3: We are just friends now.. These are direct speech acts Saying something makes it so when spoken at the right settings/circumstances

Seven Building Tasks


1) Significance how is the piece of language being used to make certain things significant or not and in what ways. e.g.

2) Practices (Activities)
Practice a socially recognized and institutionally or culturally supported endeavour Language allows us to engage in certain activities What practice (activity) or practices is the piece of language being used to enact?

3) Identities
We used language to take certain role or identities What identity or identities is this piece of language being used to enact? What identity or identities is this piece of language attributing to others and how does this help the speaker or writer enact his/her own identity e.g. Aunt Agony column.

4) Relationships
We use language to signal what sort of relationships we have We use language to build social relationships What sort of relationship or relationships is this piece of language seeking to enact with others?

5) Politics (distribution of social goods)


Distribution of social goods is always at stake depends on how the social good is being positioned in a society Raise the question whether it is acceptable, good or adequate What perspective on social goods is this piece of language communicating (what is being communicated as what to be taken normal, right or correct.

6) Connections
We use language to render certain things connected or relevant The issue on childrens abduction social ills in society or related to Childs Act in Malaysia How does this piece of language connect or disconnect things; how does it make one thing relevant or irrelevant to another

7) Sign system and knowledge


There are many different languages There are many different varieties of language Humans are always making knowledge and belief claims within these system How does this piece of language privilege or disprivilege specific sign system or different ways of knowing & believing or claims to knowledge and belief