language and power

The following summary posted to the Linguist digest may be of value
to some folks here:


From: Bruce Nevin (920508 14:20)


Linguist List: Vol-3-366. Sat 25 Apr 1992. Lines: 122

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 92 16:59:57 MDT
From: (Ron Southerland)
Subject: Language and Power Materials

Several weeks ago I posted a query on Linguist requesting
information on texts or syllabi for 'Language and Power' courses.
I received a number of responses (from Lloyd Holliday, Sally
Thomason, Paul Hopper, Ron Smyth, Marti Hearst, Randy Allen
Harris, Ian Smith, Alec Marantz, Michael Newman, Bert Peeters,
Lee Hartman, Fiona Mc Laughlin, Niko Besnier, Teun A. van Dijk, Susan
Ehrlich and Janet Bing) for all of which I am grateful. My contacts with van
Dijk and Ehrlich and their responses were the result of suggestions made
by other respondents.

The range of materials which might be covered in a course on
'L&P' has expanded beyond those listed in my original note (e.g., gender,
government, business and race) to include 'language and the
disabled', 'power issues relating to speakers of English (or
presumably any other dominant language) as a second language',
'language and colonialism', 'issues of linguistic standardization',
'power and discourse in the courts', 'critical linguistics or
critical discourse analysis' and 'language and ideology'. The responses
included a substantial bibliography from Teun van Dijk and a course outline
(and bibliography) from Janet Bing ('Language, Gender and Power'
taught Spring 1992 at Old Dominion University). These longer
bibliographies will be combined, augmented with items suggested
by other respondents and uploaded to the Linguist Listserv at a later date.

With respect to texts for L&P, there seem to be few choices--there are, of
course, many sources for individual readings. I have decided to
use as my one required text Robin Lakoff's Talking Power: The Politics of
Language. (hardbound: 1990, paper: 1992). Sections of Lakoff's readable,
accessible and witty book deal with 'the politics of everyday language',
'language and institutions', 'language across cultures' and 'the language of
power'. Selection of this text gives the course a particular ideological
bent which might, for instance, exclude any substantial use of Deborah
Tannen's You Just Don't Understand. In any event, Lakoff must be
supplemented by other readings.

Important resource books (for students or instructors) include:

Bolinger, Dwight. 1980. Language - The Loaded Weapon. London/New
York: Longman.

Fairclough, N. 1989. Language and Power. London/New York:

Fowler, R., R. Hodge, G. Kress and A. Trew. 1979. Language and
Control. London: Routledge.

Graddol, David, and Joan Swann. 1989. Gender Voices. Oxford:

Hodge, Robert, and Gunther Kress. 1988. Social Semiotics. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press.

Joseph, John E. 1987. Eloquence and Power: The Rise of Language
Standards and Standard Languages. New York: Blackwell.

Joseph, John E., and Talbot J. Taylor. (eds.) 1990. Ideologies of
Language. London: Routledge.

Wilson, John. 1990. Politically Speaking: The Pragmatic Analysis
of Political Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

Some other works which may be useful (in part at least) are --

Cameron, Deborah. (ed.) 1990. The Feminist Critique of Language.
London/New York: Routledge.

Hughes, Geoffrey. 1991. Swearing: A Social History of Foul
Language, Oaths and Profanity in English. Oxford: Blackwell.

O'Barr, W. M. 1982. Linguistic Evidence: Language Power and
Strategy in the Courtroom. New York: Academic Press.

Ricks, Christopher, and Leonard Michaels. (eds.) 1990. The State
of the Language. Berkeley: University of California Press.

The following volume contains some examples of language used for
purposes of manipulation, persuasion and/or obfuscation. Although the book
seems to have a prescriptivist bent and is apparently intended primarily for
composition courses, it might be a good source of examples in the absence of
anything else.

Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa and Virginia Clark. (eds.) 1990.
Language Awareness. 5th edition. New York: St. Martin's Press.

The one journal most relevant to the L&P area is Discourse and
Society. Each issue contains at least one article of interest.

The area of advertising is very much under-represented in the
materials I have so far gathered. Any suggestions for inclusion
in the upcoming *long* bibliography will be appreciated.

Again, thanks to all respondents for their generous

Ron Southerland
Department of Linguistics
The University of Calgary