Relationship Between Power And Language

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Sociolinguistic anthropologists aim to study the use of languages by different peoples and how such uses form thought and social relationships between individuals. Hence, language can often be associated with power. That is to say that the use of a language differently amongst different individuals can establish a social hierarchy in which certain words become associated with gestures which are indicative of social status. Sociolinguistic anthropologists can study the relationship between power and language by studying the links between culture and language, by studying the links between certain words and gestures and by the relationships between individuals and the manner in which they speak with one another. Sociolinguistic anthropologists …show more content…
As the Shuar called it, Kakáram, which is a measure of a man’s power encompasses not only his vitality (i.e. his ability to produce offspring), physical strength and courage, but also of his ability to speak well (Hendricks, 1998, p. 219). Hendricks after immersing herself in the culture of the Shuar found that this link was due to an association between speech and spiritual strength (Hendricks, 1998, p. 223). That is, the success a young man in his mission to seek Arútam (the souls of his ancestors in a coming of age ceremony), is measured by how well-spoken he is as an individual (Hendricks, 1998, p. …show more content…
219). Culturally, the Shuar man is made by himself therefore. That is to say, through her study Hendricks was able to establish that the Shuar notion of power was intrinsic and did not come from others. That is, a man was self-made and his ability to obtain wives and children, to lead others into battle and to economically support himself were self-obtained through his own power (Kakáram) (Hendricks, 1998, p. 220). These values of power in Shuar culture closely coincide with one’s ability to use language effectively. In terms of economy, greater linguistic ability coincides with the ability to form better trading relationships and hence support a greater number of wives and children (Hendricks, 1998, p. 220). Hence, a holistic study of the Shuar culture is necessary to understand the power inequalities between

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