Language and social power Essay

Published: 2021-07-25 14:15:06
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The context of that play is about the issue of witches being burnt during the Middle Ages, which Thatcher is implying has parallels with the way the British people viewed her at the time. Her mixture of imagery and wordplay through language send a powerful message to the audience, and her use of powerful speech influences the way people think about her – hence her nickname “Iron Lady”. Advertisements use similar techniques in having the power to make a person stop and pay attention to the product that they are trying to promote.
An example is an advert for the brand French Connection UK, which only contains the words “fcuk off” in the centre of a billboard. The obvious pun is striking and makes the reader think about and remember the brand name. Another example of language and power in relation to advertising is the following text from the back of a sandwich container from the shop Pret a Manger: “Alchemy – Passion Fact – Other than washing and basic preparation, we don’t interfere with nature.
Nowadays, scientists make mass-produced food last longer, look nicer and have improved “mouth feel”. This alchemy often appears on packaging as E numbers and long unpronounceable chemical names. Basically, it helps make money along the way. The damage these additives do to our bodies is the source of tremendous debate and research. If you would like more info about Pret ingredients, please do visit our website or call us. We may refer your enquiry to one of our food nutritionists. ”
The colloquial style of language (with the use of contractions, adverbials at the beginning of sentences and pronouns like “our” to create closeness with the reader) almost brings the company’s “status” to the level of the reader, and in doing so, separating us from the higher-status “scientists” and big companies who are messing with alchemy and defying nature. With the phrase “basically, it helps make money along the way”, Pret is also implying that it is unique – its sandwiches are not concerned with making money as much as companies who mass-produce their sandwiches.
Pret want to give the impression that it cares deeply about the consumer’s welfare and health. In doing so, the customer is more likely to buy products from Pret, or continue buying products from Pret. Another example of this is an advert by Burger King: “Have it your way – You have the right to have what you want, exactly when you want it. Because on the menu of life, you are “Today’s Special”. And tomorrow’s. And the day after that. And.. well, you get the drift. Yes, that’s right. We may be the King, but you my friend, are the almighty ruler. ”
The language is a lot more exaggerated in its use of colloquialisms, which almost makes it look like casual speech. The power through advertising is achieved by creating the illusion of putting the consumer in a place where they feel they have power, when in fact; the company is manipulating that illusion to their advantage; the audience is ultimately a consumer. In conclusion, the use of language to exert power is evident within many areas. The examples discussed in this essay illustrated this in four areas: gender, the legal field, politics and advertisements, with analyses.
The examples have illustrated how males use language to achieve power amongst each other in casual conversation, how status is retained in the legal field through legal jargon, how political speeches use language to evoke powerful connotations, and how advertisements gain power and connect with the consumer through colloquial language.
References Wardhaugh, R. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Wiley-Blackwell; 6 edition (Oct 2 2009) Montgomery, M. An Introduction to Language and Society, Routledge 3rd Edition (2008).

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