Essay Questions on Part I

Recognizing Linguistic Violence


Please answer the following questions.  Write in your own words (with few direct quotes and little paraphrasing) and aim for accuracy, relevancy, clarity, and incisiveness.  Ideally, exams are due the class following completion of Part I.  Students who wish to have additional time to complete the exam are expected to make arrangements with the instructor at the end of the class following the distribution of this exam.  Exams are to be printed on white paper with a staple or paper clip in the upper left corner and are not to be placed in folders.

Each of your three responses is to be approximately 500 words.  (At the end of each response, please provide a word count.)  In your double-spaced, typed exam of approximately 1,500 words (about 6 double-spaced pages if 12-point font is used), you are to draw on the primary sources discussed in class and on notes from lectures on these sources.  If you wish, you may also use secondary sources.  However, full citation of secondary sources is required and may be listed in notes at the end of the exam.  (Notes are not to be included in the word count.)
 

1. The Concept of Linguistic Violence

Background:
Garver distinguishes overt and covert occurrences of violence and personal and institutional responsibility for violence and develops a fourfold classification of violence.  Ross presents offense and oppression as paralleling Feinberg's distinction between hurt and harm and argues that, regardless of whether language can oppress, it can offend in ways that hurt.

Question:
How can Garver's category of covert institutional violence and Ross's comments on the connection between metaphors and attitudes be utilized to articulate a concept of linguistic violence?
 

2. Challenges to the Theory of Linguistic Violence

Background:
Saussure presents signs as both arbitrary and immutable within a synchronic linguistic context and orients the scientific, objective study of language to a linguistics of language (la langue).  Platt views the extension of the concept of violence as polemic and contends that its extension can obscure the meaning of  violence and augment the level of violence.

Question:
How do the determinism of Saussure's linguistics of language and the objectivism of Platt's criticism of extending the range of the concept of violence challenge the concept of linguistic violence?
 

3. Arguments for the Reality of Linguistic Violence

Background:
Thompson notes how Bourdieu emphasizes the social context of speaking by situating discourse into fields and relating speakers to their individual habitus, and Ross argues that, while sexist metaphors can convey oppressive attitudes toward women, metaphorical language does not only hurt and offend and, consequently, can also be used to praise or support.

Question:
How do Bourdieu's differentiations concerning the symbolic power provided by an individual's elevated habitus and Ross's illustrations of sexist language point to the reality of linguistic violence?