The Power of Language

Essay by shaigHigh School, 10th grade November 2014

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Shaig Abduragimov

English HL L&L

October 6, 2014

The Power of Language

Language can be defined as a historically established system of verbal expression of thoughts, which has a specific lexical and grammatical structure and serves as a means of communication in human society. It holds many functions and has been proven to be critical to the development of mankind. In order to access to what extent language is used in our society, let's briefly expound some of its purposes and values.

To start with, language allows humans to communicate in a cultivated manner. As seen in religious and mythological writings of different cultures, language has been used to help people build up relationships and express their thoughts in an enlightened way conducive to reaching their goals. In the earth-diver creation myth of the Absarkoes, a Plains Indian tribe, Old Man Coyote, the Creator in this case, gives "the people different languages so they would misunderstand each other and use their weapons in wars."

This quote demonstrates the powerful effect language has over social intercourse, by suggesting that speaking different languages may result in misunderstanding and inability to communicate civilly. Similarly, the same idea is developed in a Bible story The Tower of Babel, "the people is one, and they have all one language… now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." The story indicates that speaking one tongue, humankind would be capable of sharing their thoughts clearly and achieving anything they put their minds to. Altogether, it is clear language serves as a means of social interaction and communication.

More importantly, language can be viewed as a medium through which power and control can be achieved. In his work How to Do Things with Words John L. Austin, a British philosopher and the...