The Power of Language Essay – Free Examples

Example #1

Of all possible human qualities, the one that wields the most power is the ability to use, understand and communicate effectively through language. Proficient use of language allows us to clearly communicate an exact idea from one person to another person or group of people.

This precise science of being able to convey exactly what you want equates to the acquisition of power. An important link between language and power is persuasion. The power of persuasion is so strong it allows certain individuals to influence, and therefore, control thousands, even millions, of people and bind them together in search of one common cause.

This tactic of persuasion is also called propaganda. Propaganda is the spreading of information in order to influence public opinion and to manipulate other people’s beliefs. The message of propaganda is primarily intended to serve the interests of the messenger, thereby increasing his power. All propaganda is a systematic effort to persuade.

The propagandist gives a one-sided message, accentuating the good points of one side and the bad points of the other position. Propaganda is most widely distributed through public speaking and the use of the mass media. The propagandist speaks in an attempt to persuade the audience to believe his way. With the support of the audience, the speaker gains power.

Propaganda as an art of persuasion has been used for thousands of years. In the fifth century BC, when Pericles addressed his fellow Athenians on the merits of their city compared to the tyranny of Sparta, he was making propaganda, even though much of what he was saying was true.  Many centuries later, Lenin, the Soviet revolutionary, realized the value of propaganda to indoctrinate educated people.  He employed another tactic toward the uneducated, called agitation.

This process involved the use of slogans, stories, half-truths, and even outright lies in order to avoid the need for complex arguments. The Nazi government of Germany from 1933 to 1945, was very adept at propaganda. In order to gain power,  Adolf Hitler used his ability to tell each audience what it wanted to hear.  He stirred fears of communism when talking to businessmen, and preached the values of socialism when talking to factory workers. After his party won control of the government office, he appointed Joseph Goebbels as head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Through Goebbels, Hitler gained power over the press, radio, theater, films, music, and literature.

People naturally have this feeling, or intuition, about something. They know how they feel and believe about a subject, but it is something that they don’t take the time to verbalize; they merely contain it in their minds as a belief. However, there are certain people who verbalize and put into words these internal feelings of the masses and gain the trust of the people. These certain people are our leaders.

By speaking about and placing importance on the beliefs and values that these people have never before heard articulated, the leaders gain the confidence of the people. Political leaders are the primary examples of the people we put our trust in.  In 1960,  John F. Kennedy was elected to the office of President after four nationally televised debates against vice-president Richard Nixon. It was generally conceded that these debates helped Kennedy more than Nixon.

In April of 1961, after Russia successfully launched the first man into outer space, John Kennedy asked for a greatly increased budget for space research.  Kennedy said, powerfully, I believe that this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning
him safely to the earth.  Kennedy is considered to have been a driving force behind the mission to the moon which was successful in 1969.  It was the power of his language that made the trip possible.  It was also Kennedy who coined the phrase, Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.  This became the battle cry for the capitalist, American way of life.

On January 26 and 27, 1830, the United States Senate heard one of the greatest speeches ever delivered before it.  Daniel Webster, a senator from Massachusetts, made the speech in answer to Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina. The issue was the nullification controversy. Hayne, a confederate of John C. Calhoun, has said that the federal government was a mere confederation of states and that the states could refuse to obey any laws passed by Congress. Webster refuted Hayne’s notion with the memorable words, Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!  It placed Webster in the front rank of American orators and won him enduring statesmanship.

There are other ways, besides public speaking that effective use of language can be used to gain power. Millions of people encounter written language every day.  Major novelists, such as John Grisham, have written several best sellers that are read and enjoyed by many people. Various novels of Grisham’s have been made into films that are seen at theaters.  It is in this way that John Grisham has gained power.

There are other examples that bear larger importance. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed to the door of the church in Wittenberg a list of 95 theses, or propositions. They denied the right of the pope to forgive sins through the sale of indulges, among other challenges. The theses were widely circulated in Germany and Europe and caused great controversy.  It was from this demonstration of written language that later spawned the Protestant Reformation.

On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that he later called the central act of my administration and the greatest event of the nineteenth century. This document, the Emancipation Proclamation, gave freedom to all of the slaves held in the rebelling Confederate states. This written document held a great deal of power and had an enormous impact on the history of the United States.  It serves as a further example of the power of language.

Every day the area thousands of judicial trials going on in the world and for each of them, there is an attorney.  Attorneys wield a great deal of power through the language and ideas that they convey to the court.  The power of lawyers is priceless to some people, for in the language of their attorney lies their life. In the extremely popular criminal case of O.J. Simpson, we see the perfect example.  Mr. Simpson hired a dream team of lawyers to argue his case for him and they were successful.

Through the power of language, attorneys such as Johnnie Cochran overcame massive scientific evidence, such as DNA blood typing finding Mr. Simpson’s blood at the scene of the crime, to retrieve a non-guilty’ verdict. Mr. Cochran invented the phrase If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. This clever slogan is an example of how language can be used to persuade people to think a certain way.

Language is encountered every day, by everyone, in one form or another. Its power can be vast, unlimited, and far-reaching.  Proficient use of language can allow us to communicate an exact idea or to persuade others to one point of view.  Throughout history, leaders have used this fact to control their constituents and the gullible masses.’  Propaganda is one form of persuasion that is prevalent during wartime and revolution.  Famous politicians and orators have used language to get them elected into office.  Writers and authors have used written language to convey their specific messages as well.  Language is the basis for all knowledge and for all power.

 

Example #2

Language is one of the most important things in our world. It is used in many different ways, whether it be good or bad. Language is extremely powerful. It is, after all, how we communicate for the most part.

Language can be either empowering or disempowering depending on how it’s looked at. A perfect example would be for new students. I have had a handful of new students in my classes from a foreign country. So far, all of them have not been able to speak English. This is extremely disempowering to these people because English is our main language. If they want to communicate effectively, they will have to adapt to their surroundings and pick up a new language.

Now when I look at it from my standpoint, it can be empowering. I say this because it makes me feel powerful and at a higher level when I have to help someone with something, especially when it’s as important as learning a new language. I love taking a challenge that’s not only going to help me but more importantly another person.

I remember my freshman and sophomore year when I took a Spanish class. There were already a handful of students that could speak it fluently. This was very intimidating to me because I had no knowledge of that language, thus it was an extremely disempowering experience for me. Now when I look at it vice versa, it was empowering to those who already knew Spanish. They had a head start and knew almost everything about it.

Language is used by every age person out there, whether it be an infant or an elder person. Although, they do tend to use language and communication in a much different way. The biggest way I can tell if a baby wants something is when it either reaches for something or simply starts whining and crying. An elder person will communicate just like teens and middle age people do for the most part. The only real difference is that the elders have a broader range of knowledge, and therefore will use bigger and more complicated words.

 

Example #3

George Orwell, the writer of many highly regarded literary works, is extremely interested in the power of language, mainly how it is abused. By analyzing two of his works, 1984 and Politics, and The English Language, it is clear that Orwell is using his writing to bring awareness to the dangers of the manipulation, misuse, and decline of language.

In 1984 he demonstrates how language can be used to control thought and manipulate the past. This is proven throughout the novel by examining the language of Newspeak and how it is key to controlling the totalitarian state, and how using language to alter and manipulate history can shape reality.

In his essay Politics and the English Language Orwell once again demonstrates the ubiquitous power of language by exemplifying how bad English is making a less intelligent population, and how when it is used in politics it can play a huge role in influencing the truth. In 1984 Orwell warns of the manipulation of language in a totalitarian state.

He emphasizes the importance of language in the superstate of Oceania; and how its government, known as the Party, is able to control the state because of their control over the language. The Party’s main goal is to eliminate any opposition to their power, even if it just a thought of opposition. To achieve this goal the Party developed a new language called Newspeak, that will eventually replace modern English or Oldspeak.

The opposition that the Party aims to eliminate is often carried out through the act of Thoughtcrime, which is one of the worst offenses a person can commit and is punishable by death. Since the party can’t read people’s minds they analyze their facial expressions to tell if they are thinking anything against the norm. To solve the problem of thoughtcrime they developed the ultra-political language of Newspeak.

Newspeak’s main goal is to restrict vocabulary to the point where thoughtcrime is impossible. Syme, one of the newspeak engineers says “ We’re cutting the language down to the bone. . . Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year!” (Huxley, 55) By manipulating the language the Party aims to change the way people think. Since without language thought is nearly impossible the party believes that by altering the language they can impose their untrue reality. They will be able to restrict it to the point that even a person’s thoughts are manipulated; things such as individualism and imagination will cease to exist.

Which ultimately will give the Party total control over society. The newspeak engineer also goes on to state “ In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.” (55) This quote proves how vital control of language is to the party, it is the key to becoming a controlled state. By creating the element of Newspeak in 1984 Orwell is warning against the potential consequences of manipulating language to benefit people in power and how this can eventually lead to a totalitarian state.

In 1984 Orwell also warns of the misuse of language and how it can shape reality. He demonstrates how the Party is extremely skilled at changing reality through language, especially when it is related to the past. The Party has the ability to alter any piece of literature or writing that doesn’t coincide with their desired robotic society. This constant altering of the past makes finding a true reality impossible because reality is undergoing constant change. Winston, the protagonist of the book, worked at the Ministry of Truth and his job was, ironically, to rewrite the past to make the Party look best in the present.

He was told to rewrite papers, books, and posters and to change them to something that would better suit the Party’s interests at the time. Orwell described this process “ Day by day almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment ever allowed to stay on record.” (42)

In this quote, Orwell demonstrates the dangers associated with the abuse of language. Writing is a tool that is supposed to open and clear the mind, but when the language is used to do the opposite the consequences can be severe. Using language as a tool to secure power is a scary thought, especially when it blurs the lines between reality and fiction.

By getting the Party to alter the past in 1984 Orwell is warning of the potential consequences that could arise when language is misused to alter consciousness and shape reality. In Politics and the English Language Orwell warns of the potential danger of a more dense population due to the decline of language.

He claims that English is currently being “abused” and forgetting that all people are different and that everything changes with time, even language itself. Orwell goes onto state “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. 1. What am I trying to say?
  2. 2. What words will express it?
  3. 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect…But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble.

You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in.” (Orwell, George. Politics and the English language: an essay.

New York: Typophiles, 1947) In this quote, Orwell is showing the modern trend of laziness when it comes to language. Instead of people asking themselves the four questions listed above and coming with their own powerful statements they are relying on phrases and sayings that are overused to describe how they feel.

Orwell uses words like “decline,” “ugly,” “inaccurate,” “foolish” and “slovenliness” to describe the English language in its current state. This laziness when it comes to language is making our generation thought capacity smaller compared to our predecessors and therefore less intelligent.

Orwell noticed this trend in modern language and used his writing to warn against this inevitable progression. He realized Everything changes with time, the phrases that are repeatedly used over and over to describe our thoughts and feelings will expire. Once they are no longer relative the population will have lost so much mental capacity from not thinking thoroughly with their own language that they will no longer be able to come up with ones to replace them.

Throughout Politics and the English Language Orwell is warning people that if they do not stop this declining trend in language that the population will start to become less and less intelligent with each generation, therefore making them more vulnerable to all sorts of dangers. In Politics and the English Language Orwell also warns of the potential danger of eliminating truth due to manipulative political language. Governments since the beginning of time have been able to manipulate and gain the support of the population through numerous tactics, all of which are directly related to language.

Throughout his essay Orwell exemplifies the dangers that can occur when language is in the hands of the government; he states that “One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language.” This statement shows how the decline of language is making people more vulnerable to political extortion and therefore less aware of the truth. Orwell goes onto state that “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”(Orwell, Politics and the English Language)

In this quote, Orwell is clearly warning about the true amount of power that political language possesses. He demonstrates how something completely morally wrong such as murder can be justified if a politician knows how to manipulate the language to make it appear right. This is a clear warning about the extent to which the government will go to secure its power. This manipulation of the truth and justification for lies makes the truth very hard to distinguish. Since the English language is declining people are becoming more vulnerable to the government’s proposed propaganda and falsifications, the truth will become more and more scare.

Throughout his essay Politics and the English Language Orwell is trying to bring to attention that the manipulation of language by the government will eventually make truth an irrelevant idea. Orwell’s literary works carry a well-founded warning about the potential dangers associated with the manipulation, misuse, and decline of language.

He demonstrates how language can be manipulated by the government to make way for a totalitarian society, how it can be used to alter reality, how the decline of language is making a less intelligent population, and how political language is making truth an irrelevant idea. Language is one of the greatest tools mankind possesses and throughout 1984 and Politics and the English Language Orwell shows that when the reverence for language fades, it can easily become the downfall to human consciousness.

 

Example #4

Language plays an important role in communication by bringing people together and enriching their relationships. Language can also alienate those who do not speak it properly, or at all, from those who do. The essays, Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan, best known for her book, The Joy Luck Club, and Se Habla Espanol, by Tanya Barrientos, delve into the many powers that language holds.

These essays reflect how by not speaking a language in proper form and by not speaking a language at all, affects the lives of the subjects of the stories. People who can speak a certain language, but only in ‘broken’ form, are generally looked down upon by native language speakers.

However, many Hispanic families were and in some cases, still are viewed as lower-class citizens. According to Barrientos, “To me, speaking Spanish translated into being poor. It meant waiting tables and cleaning hotel rooms. It meant being left off the cheerleading squad and receiving a condescending smile from the guidance counselor when you said you planned on becoming a lawyer or a doctor” (561).

They are not respected in a lot of communities, they live dirty, and they have bad jobs. These stereotypes are reasons why Barrientos did not want to be called Mexican and never wanted to learn Spanish. If diversity had been celebrated when Barrientos was a child, as it is celebrated and honored now, she would have grown up speaking Spanish and being proud of her heritage.

Children are very impressionable and tend to take on others’ opinions as their own, but as they grow older, they develop a greater understanding and perspective of the way things are and the way they should be. As adults, both Tan and Barrientos learned to accept and embrace the languages that previously embarrassed them. Barrientos immersed herself in her Mexican heritage and enrolled in many Spanish classes.

With each enrollment, she faced yet another stereotype that came with being of Mexican ethnicity; her instructors thought she should already know Spanish since she was Latina. Barrientos is now determined to learn her native language.

 

Example #5

American society is blending a variety of cultures, races, and languages. To live in the United States does not mean that someone is a natural American or a perfect British. Many immigrants to the United States are facing discrimination because they can not speak English. In her “mother tongue” article, writer Amy Tan is exploring the various struggles confronted through the language of Asian American immigrants and the views of American society. Throughout this article, Tan studied various English developments used in various environments.

The relationship between language and country or nationality is very strong and powerful. Language and various identities, community and society, and domestic connections are also very strong. The languages, languages, or languages ​​we speak constitute an integral part of our own and the population trying to impose one or more languages ​​on the country is often associated with power and ideological issues It is. The reason why language and language are associated with specific countries varies depending on the combination of historical change and social change. Throughout history, the offensive power of other countries was initially imposed on people conquered in their language, especially with political, economic, and educational institutions.

But the problem of power is actually more complicated. Especially in the case of the “power of language”, the problem is multilayered. “The power of words” is not only the word that demonstrates power, but also the destruction of power. Most importantly, as a language, it has a very special power. The relationship between language and power is contradictory.

We call the “power of language” the “language of power”. The general meaning here is that all power must ultimately use the language in which it is conveyed and expressed. In other words, others just listen and obey. In a narrow sense, understanding of this “power of language” is a tool of language for exercising power. Instruction of the language itself becomes a means of power. Like political rhetorical and confusing people, like “ideology and corruption,” through “linguistic temptation” to be “convincing”.

Everyone speaks in different languages. Even the most proficient speakers can not monopolize the power of the language. After all, the “power of language” is not in the speaker but in the language itself. The power of language belongs to the language itself. Therefore, this power belongs to everyone who owns that language. People who have acquired language skills have power.

Language is not only a tool that hands over to power, but it is also a reaction force that can not be restricted and suppressed. Power, such as having weapons and money, depends on many factors. These are missing; some are those who have them and others are not. This shortage establishes human power for people. It shows a ubiquitous social relationship between power and inequality.

 

Example #6

Language is the way people speak or communicate with each other. For instance, language can help us to describe a thing, and we can use our language to change the way we behave toward people. Does language shape our personality and thoughts? Language can shape our personality and thoughts by learning new languages and reading literature. People’s personalities can change and become better by reading literature and learning new languages. Literature means any kind of story, such as fiction. Fiction can change our behavior towards people (Paul 322).

According to Annie Murphy Paul, researchers found out that people who love read fiction are good at handling other people’s emotions (Paul 322). In real life, people may struggle on how to interact with other people, but when we read fiction about a character who knows how to deal with and react to people, we can interpret it into our life. Not only reading can improve our personality, but also learning new languages can change our behavior toward people.

In Catherine de Lange’s article “My Two Minds”, she states that people who have a second language not only can change their ability to solve the problem, but also it can change our personality too (de Lange par.3). People who are bilingual act differently according to the language they speak (de Lange par.22). For example, in a study from Susan Ervin-Tripp, she tried to ask Japanese-English speakers to complete a sentence in English or Japanese, and it showed the speaker kept using a variety of endings depending on the language (de Lange par.23).

To illustrate, when she was asked to complete the sentence “Real friends should” in Japanese the speaker said, “help each other out”, while in English the speaker said, “be very frank” (de Lange par.23). This shows that bilinguals have different personalities when they try to finish the sentence and they think differently (de Lange par.23). The language also shapes people on how they think of reality by learning a new language and reading literature. People who learn two languages can interpret differences in the reality base on an event.

In Lera Boroditsky’s video, she states that language can guide reason about an event (Boroditsky par.18). For example, there is an event about a man who broke a vase (Boroditsky par.18). An English speaker will think the event as, “the man broke the vase”, but a Spanish speaker will say, “the vase broke” (Boroditksy par.18).

This is unique because the punishment for the man in each society will be different, as English speakers will punish the person more because he broke the vase, unlike Spanish speaker m who sees an accident (Boroditsky par.19). So, when people have more language can think differently about an event. As people speak differently can change our thinking, reading also can change our thinking, such as reading literature. For example, a poem can change the way we think.

In Tanya M. White-Davis’ article, she states about racism and uses the power of a language like the poem “Say Their Names” by Sandra Wijayaratne to speak equality for all colored people’s rights (Tanya M., White-Davis et al. par.1). When people read the poems, it makes people think about what their role is in healthcare systems for justice especially the role of healers’ role (White-Davis et al. par.1). Thus, reading literature can help people to react to society, and they can think differently to society. To sum up, when we read literature and learn a new language, it can change our behavior towards people. By knowing these two things, we can change our behavior to become a better person.

 

Example #7

Language is one of the most important things in our world. It is used in many different ways, whether it be good or bad. Language is extremely powerful. It is, after all, how we communicate for the most part.

Language can be either empowering or disempowering depending on how it’s looked at. A perfect example would be for new students. I have had a handful of new students in my classes from a foreign country. So far, all of them have not been able to speak English. This is extremely disempowering to these people because English is our main language. If they want to communicate effectively, they will have to adapt to their surroundings and pick up a new language.

Now when I look at it from my standpoint, it can be empowering. I say this because it makes me feel powerful and at a higher level when I have to help someone with something, especially when it’s as important as learning a new language. I love taking a challenge that’s not only going to help me but more importantly another person.

I remember my freshman and sophomore year when I took a Spanish class. There were already a handful of students that could speak it fluently. This was very intimidating to me because I had no knowledge of that language, thus it was an extremely disempowering experience for me. Now when I look at it vice versa, it was empowering to those who already knew Spanish. They had a head start and knew almost everything about it.

Language is used by every age person out there, whether it be an infant or an elder person. Although, they do tend to use language and communication in a much different way. The biggest way I can tell if a baby wants something is when it either reaches for something or simply starts whining and crying. An elder person will communicate just like teens and middle age people do for the most part. The only real difference is that the elders have a broader range of knowledge, and therefore will use bigger and more complicated words.

Another type of communication is done through body language. Body language is another type of communication that is used every day whether you realize it or not. This is a very important type of communication, especially for those who are either deaf or can’t speak the same language. I use this for communicating with those students who don’t speak English. I will use hand signals and try to point at certain objects to either get my point across or to try to figure out what they’re trying to tell me.

It would be great if everybody’s knowledge of the language was equal, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Every person has to strive to be the best they can be. I know that the harder I study in a language, the better I will become, just as it is for anyone else. I have been through years and years of English classes so I know this from personal experience.

The language will always be one of the most important forms of communication. We will continue to use it for centuries and probably millenniums to come. I guess we won’t be here to find out, but I believe as time goes on the different types of language and communication will become more advanced.

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