Language conflict is a topic that is dealt with in linguistic literature. Several researchers have made significant contributions to secure a place for language conflict within linguistic research. Language conflict can emanate from using language in interaction. It is no doubt that language conflict can result in negative outcomes. This paper, therefore, seeks to explore, analyze and explain a scenario whereby a language conflict arose.
Examples of language conflict can be found in the work of (Benesch, 2012) who illustrates how words can be used as weapons in turn leading to language conflict. She illustrates this particular situation by highlighting a circumstance whereby a speaker uses inciting words when delivering his/her speech. (Orwell, 2001) outlines ways in which English language use results in language conflict. The author outlines four ways in which an author/speaker can avoid language conflict. Orwell urges English authors not to use a metaphor, simile, or any other figure of speech which he/she is used to seeing in print, not to use a long word where a short one can do, to always cut out a word if it is possible to do so, not to use passive where he/she can use active, and finally not to use a foreign phrase, scientific word, or a jargon word. By doing all these, the authors will be able to avoid language conflict.
According to (Borodidtsky, 2009), language shapes the way people think. The author uses some illustrations to prove that indeed language influences the way individuals think and do their activities. The way persons think and the choices of words individuals use determine the extent of occurrence of language conflict. (Kenneally, 2007) likens language to the information highway (World Wide Web) in that everyone is logged in. A language conflict will result in individuals logging out of the system.
Language conflict is evident in our day to day lives. Many speakers do not use effective language strategies as they deliver their speeches. There is an example of a motivational speaker who was delivering a talk to university students. Language conflict was evident as he delivered the speech. Many factors indeed show that there was a language conflict. Firstly, the motivational speaker was not clear at all. The clarity of his speech was distorted by the words he used. The audience also had different connotative definitions for words that were used by the speaker. The audience was unable to understand the ideas conveyed by the speaker in the way the speaker intended. The message could not be understood.
The distance between the speaker and the audience was too far. To avoid language conflict speaker should be close to the audience. The long-distance between the speaker and the audience had some negative impacts. It resulted in the audience not paying attention to the words spoken by the speaker. It also led the audience to struggle a lot trying to hear what the speaker was saying. The intended message from the speaker could not be conveyed well to the target audience. The speaker was supposed to use a microphone or stand near the audience as he delivered the speech.
The speaker thought that it was good to use more words when delivering the speech. The speaker was rambling on and on without actually making a valid point. This resulted in the audience become bored and distracted. Since the audience was distracted others started doing their things. Unnecessary movements out of the hall increased. Other individuals were paying more attention to their phones. These are indicators of language conflict. The outcome became undesirable and not recommended. The speaker was supposed to minimize the words used. He could have opted to use only those words that are necessary to accurately express his idea.
Another action that resulted in language conflict was that the speaker used a very basic language that turned off the audience. The choice of vocabulary used was not appropriate for university students. He used vocabulary words that are appropriate for high school students. This offended the university students such that they were no longer willing to hear what the speaker was saying.
Obscenity or indecent language used by the speaker also caused language conflict. It may be okay to use obscene language in casual conversations with friends; however, it is not recommended to use obscene language while delivering a speech. In this particular manner, the motivational speaker erred in doing so. This resulted in the audience focusing on the obscenity and not on the message from the speaker.
The speaker used obscure language. He also used political jargons which other members of the audience could not understand. Example of such jargons which he used included left wing, right wing, getting on a soapbox, POTUS and SCOTUS. This language choice made the audience not to get to understand the message. The audience had no idea about some of these words. He was not supposed to assume that the audience knew the meaning of such words.
The following actions also led to language conflict. The speaker used a language that made him sound unprepared or uncertain. The speaker was also overemphasizing all aspects of the speech. The speaker at many times tried to downplay his qualifications and competence about the topic he was talking about. He was also adding a question to the end of a phrase seeking the audience’s consent for what was said. He downplayed his abilities. This made the audience to lack confidence in him. He used the modifiers that indicated that he was not completely sure of the statement he was making. Most of his utterances were used to fill space while speaking i.e. filler words. All these aspects finally resulted in language conflict.
Language conflict indeed has undesired outcomes as discussed above. Every speaker should avoid actions that can lead to language conflict. In many instances, language conflict is caused by the writer/speaker.
Language conflict will hinder the speaker from achieving his objectives. Each speaker usually intends to pass a particular message to his/her audience. However, if a language conflict arises during the time of giving a speech, the message may not be understood or it may even go to a point of information being understood. If a speaker does not succeed in passing the intended message to the audience, then it will be like the speaker has wasted his time and energy giving the speech.
Another key consequence of language conflict is a lack of confidence and trust in the speaker. Language conflict causes a wide rift between the audience and the speaker. The audience may not trust the words from the speaker. This is manifested when the audience no longer concentrates on what the speaker is saying. The audience shifts the concentration to other things such as mobile phones and talking as the speaker gives the speech.
As highlighted above, language conflict has negative impacts. Therefore, any speaker/author must avoid actions that lead to language conflict. The choice of words and vocabulary should be appropriate to the audience. The speaker should ensure that he stands close to the audience. The speaker should avoid the use of obscure and obscene language. The speaker/author should avoid making bad rhetorical choices. There are also some questions which the audience may find it not pleasing to be asked. The speaker should also avoid asking such kind of actions. By doing all these, then an author/speaker will avoid language conflict.
Benesch, S. (2012). Words as weapons. World Policy Journal, 29(1), 7-13.
Boroditsky, L. (2009). How does our language shape the way we think. What’s next, 116-129.
Kenneally, C. (2007). The first word: The search for the origins of language. Penguin.
Orwell, G. (2001). Politics and the English language. (21).