blogging gobbledygook and such

Remembered watching a movie in which a scene had a character saying something along the lines of: no one can make you inferior unless you allow them to. So in a sense, how you interpret what others say to you is your own reaction towards it. You could choose to react negatively or positively towards it.

Having learnt a little about discourse analysis, however, demonstrates that words can be manipulated in a way that provokes a certain reaction by the listener. That means the words uttered by a speaker is designed not to just to reflect the speaker’s ideology and mentality, but also to invoke the emotions of a listener. In this train of thought, a listener’s reaction to a speaker’s words is in most cases “dictated” by the way the speaker uses words.

Perhaps it’s a bit of both. You could on one hand choose to ignore or not react to a sneering jibe, therefore giving the impression that you are not emotionally responding. On the other hand, that boiling anger you felt from the jibe is not something that you “choose” to feel; the speaker through his scathing choice of words (it’s a jibe, after all) in some sense meant to invoke an emotional response from you as the listener.

So where do the power of words belong? To the user of the medium or the interpreter of the medium?

Note: WordPress.com turns 2 years old today.

Comments on: "Do the power of words belong to the speaker or the listener?" (11)

  1. perhaps both. The user has the power by choice of words, the listener by choice of reaction.

    sulz: so from your perspective, the power of words really belong to the speaker then, since the listener can only control his reaction…

  2. lovelyloey said:

    I’m taking discourse structure this semester!
    Yet even at a lower level, Pragmatics studies, there is perlocution on the listener’s part i.e. the listener can interpret and abstract information however he wishes. So when there’s a mismatch between the speaker is trying to say and what the listener understands out of the utterance, there is misunderstanding. (However, being “cooperative” listeners we usually only abstract the most “obvious” and socially coherent meaning.)

    sulz: but do you believe that other people’s words can have the power to evoke emotions in you, or that power belongs to you and you alone?

  3. Both listener and speaker have equal levels of interpretation, but it comes from understanding and experience to get them equal. It is the same when it comes to watching, reading or talking about philosophy and religion.

    sulz: but do you believe (at least the possibility of both options) that other people’s words can have the power to evoke emotions in you, or that power belongs to you and you alone?

  4. I think the speaker has the power. Because ever though you could say the listener chooses to ignore it, he knows inside he really can’t. When you hear something bad about yourself from somebody, you may pretend to ignore it but the fact of the matter is that you really can’t. It always hurts like hell but you just don’t show it so that the speaker thinks it didn’t have any effect. Now the speaker needs to be intelligent enough to figure that his words do have an effect on people and hence should mould his words carefully.

    And sorry for using his everywhere. I wanted to make it his/her everywhere but I’m too lazy. You know I’m not a gender person so don’t mind.

    sulz: yea, that’s what self thought as well, but there’ll always be two sides to a coin. don’t worry, am a bit lazy about that sometimes too. 😉

  5. well, I suppose so yes, like ish said, once we hear what the speaker says, it has already effected us; we, the listener, merely have power over our reaction. I believe everyone and anyone who speaks to someone in a hurtful manner knows that their words will have an effect on the listener.

    sulz: oh well, things like that really depends on context at the end, yea? 🙂

  6. discourse! *looks happy*

    both speaker and listener have power. the speaker has the power to encode; the listener, the power to decode. i’m quoting stuart hall, possibly one of the most brilliant minds out there. i could get all rhetorical and deep but i shan’t because i just had dinner and am feeling fat and lazy.

    *smug grins*

    sulz: like that mar a lot of power struggle lor! 😛 heh, actually this question also no right answer, all a matter of perspective.

    wah, how many times you want to grin so smugly? thought you’re feeling lazy…

  7. There is power for both. But the strongest power belongs to the individual that can manipulate the words in speech and writing. The power of speaking does not just lay in the words spoken. It lays in the ability to express and manipulate (yourself and others) emotion through tone and facial expression. It also lays in the speaker’s ability to recognize his audience and direct them towards accepting the message. That does not mean the individual who originally spoke the words has the most power. Some individuals can take the same words and message and create a much more powerful movement than the creator of the words. On of the strongest movements were created when the Nazis of Germany took the words of philosopher Nietzsche and reconstrued (they actually used his sister to rewrite some of his works) them to prop up their empire. The Christian movement did not experience its biggest growth by the speaking of the original apostles but instead found its major growth through the leadership and speaking of Paul. Songs and movies that are remade are also great examples. Sometimes a combination of singers or actors and the people behind the scene will take a particular song or movie to much greater acclaim than another production of the same material. The movie “You’ve Got Mail” is a great example of a remade movie that was a big success. There is almost unlimited power in the presentation of a message for a skilled speaker.

    sulz: wow, that was some wise chunk of text to digest. 😛 but what you say is pretty much true.

  8. lovelyloey said:

    Well, regarding the issue of invoking emotions in me, I think it does to a certain extent. (Can’t exactly think of an example now though). And it really depends on my mood; if I’m being nasty to the speaker, I can dig deep in his words and see all things negative. But most of the time I play nice (being cooperative) and take things at a socially acceptable value. So in this sense… the power still falls on the speakee huh? Whether she chooses to call upon perlocutionary understanding.

    sulz: from that perspective, it means that no matter how nice a speaker’s words are, the listener can just really twist words around to suit his perspective. that’s scary when you think about it because it’s almost like putting words into people’s mouth…

    the power of words! 😮

  9. hi,again ^_^!

    well thanks again for ur reply hahahaha
    anyway!i wanna send u back. do u want one?
    coz i wanna show a postcard of my country.

    p.s so sorry i’m not good at english T__T
    takw care

    sulz: of course would love a postcard from you! 🙂 will send address in the postcard sent to you soon. thank you!

  10. rockystar said:

    ok thanksss again.
    i’m looking forward to get it.
    i’ll send u back as soon as i can.

    P.s Neng is me,Rocky star hahahaha

  11. […] The 100 things to do before dying list Virtual relationships are no less real than real ones Power of words: speaker or listener? Perpetrator or victim: both to blame? Aristotle’s 3 kinds of […]

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