When leaving school a friend of mine uses hate speech against Muslims, he says that all Muslims are terrorists. Fredrick as he is usually called in school rants about how Muslims are dangerous and violent and have caused many deaths around the world. He continues about how all Muslims should not be trusted. All this while I am very uncomfortable and dismayed by his sudden hateful outbursts. In the evening while browsing the internet I encounter someone on facebook who uses profanity by calling Latin Americans dogs who deserve to die. The person, a high school student, expresses his hate for Latin Americans by posting the abuses on his wall. Even though I am not Latin American, the post really offended me.
In the morning at the gym, I bumped into someone who suddenly raises their voice and hurls abusive words at me. I accidentally elbowed him as I walked in and he was walking out. In the evening while hanging out with my friends, talking about the days events. One of them suddenly changes the topic and tells us many humorous stories about a trip to Brazil. He engages us with his stories the whole trip home. We even forgot about our previous topic. His stories about Brazil are however humorous and funny and they leave all of us in stitches.
As I arrived for my lectures in the mid-morning I used slang to describe a car when I exclaimed at how some of my colleagues owned ‘cool’ cars. When with my peers we used cool to describe fancy and beautiful. Slang was our replacement of Standard English. In the afternoon, an intoxicated senior abuses some sophomores for driving for not stepping their car to let him cross to the other side of the street. This is an example of profanity.
Language is arbitrary in nature because its words and the ideas or things those words represent show no relationship. Words therefore mean whatever the users of language want them to mean. Language is also arbitrary because sentences and ideas vary from one language to the other such that different language may use a completely different set of words or characters to explain the same idea (Finegan p.8). The arbitrary nature of language as expressed in my log above is quite clear. For example, my use of the word ‘cool’ to describe a fancy car does not depict any relationship between the word and the fancy car. In fact, ‘cool’ means something different in English compared to how it is used in slang.
Slang is an informal language used in communication. It involves the use of certain words accepted in some social settings. Slang exists in many different cultures around the world (Floyd 2011). The use of slang among peers is a source of identity. When people converse in slang, they identify themselves with some particular group of people. Slang represents some sort of ambiguous language. Cool for example can mean something entirely different in normal English but is acceptable among the youth as a word used in describing fancy things.
Hate speech is a form of language that derogates or vilifies a certain community, race or gender. Hate speech degrades a certain person or group of people. Calling all Muslims terrorists for example is a form of hate speech. Such a statement is an infringement of the rights and lowers the dignity of Muslims. Humor is a funny way of expressing ideas. The speaker in this case expresses ideas in a way that contravenes the expectations of his audience. For instance, my colleague who was narrating stories about his Brazilian trip shared about his funny encounters in Brazil. The talk was beyond our expectations hence we could not help laughing all the way home.
I used slang while hanging out with my friends in college. My peers accept the use of slang and we prefer to have conversations in slang than Standard English. My friend used hate speech because he had a negative perception of Muslims. Living in America, he has cultivated the hate due to the frequent terrorist attacks perceivably carried out by Muslims. The use of hate speech against Muslims is only acceptable among people who hate Muslims I however detest any form of hate. People are less accepting to certain language forms because either they do not identify with such language types or such languages represent ideas or notions that go against their moral values. In addition, individuals perceive some language forms as more acceptable than other forms (Floyd 2011).
Shared opinion errors occur when a speaker assumes that his/her listeners share the same opinion even though the listeners have contrary views. In my log shared opinion error occurred when my best friend used hate speech against Muslims. He probably thought that like him, I also hated Muslims and that is why he shared this information with me. His thoughts were misinformed and inaccurate. The information was intended to interest me but it had the effect of leaving the opposite impression. Monopolization errors occur when the speaker controls the entire conversation. Monopolization error in the log occurs when one of my colleagues takes control of the conversation as we go home and insists on telling us about his trip to Brazil. He takes over the conversation for the entire trip home and ensures we talk about nothing else for the entire evening. He is the only one who contributes even though we were supposed to have a different conversation initially.
Finegan, E. (2008). Language: Its structure and use. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Floyd, K. (2011). Interpersonal communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hartley, P. (2005). Interpersonal communication. Abingdon: Routledge.