Our group decided to contextualize the many different topics of discussion brought up in class today both in and out of the reading. The reading which we will be referring to will be Bressler’s Structuralism. Language is a bridge between nations, a tool often needed for the development of a successful connection, whether it is with the self, others, states, and different administrative or social groups formed in the global community. In today’s group discussion we touched upon semiology and structuralism, which is the relationship of language seen as a system of signs and these signs acting as arbitrators interconnecting the relational meanings based on the person.
In terms of semiology and structuralism we discussed diachronic and synchronic terms. Diachronic being the approach to tracing language over time and looking at the phenomenon of its change across time, as well as its meaning and weight. In terms of synchronic, it is fully dependent on the meaning of the word or language defined by that exact moment. For us, during discussion we believe that attention focused on is the functioning of the parts of language and not the historical development as a whole. In a way it is more analyzing the objectivity of language within a time and not taking into account the historical influences that may lead up to structural change the language the language or specific word went through.
What we as a group understood is that some may not fully catch the underlying meaning of a word often used. For example, the use of the nigger in pop culture and contemporary life is often overlooked in its historical context. It was first used as a indicator of a group of people, then as dehumanizing term, and eventually a negative view of African American society during the civil rights period. However, now the word holds multiple meaning across the nation, one which is used as a way to “own it” and own their race and history. Another, as a derogatory term often devaluing a person of color. Lastly, it is use in music and pop culture as space fillers, and as pointers of important context. In addition, it has become a way of expression. Some that say it, understand the meaning the word hold, others are following through with a common cultural slang term. For us, its not about looking too closely at the past meaning of the word, but at the actual meaning of it in contemporary culture, whether it is negative or positive, depending on the context it appears. Its a mixture of diachronic and synchronic small doses.
Another point of discussion is the point of perception brought forth in the beginning of the reading, the story about applicant A and B. We discussed the idea that we live in a global society that chooses to judge a book by its cover rather than its content, which is why the society of blue collar workers is growing and the white collar workers are actually getting smaller. The author introduced the story of how the applicant well dressed got the job versus the applicant who came in late and was not dressed properly did not get the job. Although both were equally qualified applicants for the job. Only one was given a better treatment due to their appearance. We as the readers failed to receive more background on the underdressed applicant but came to the conclusion that perhaps he came from a lower class and could not afford to get a expensive suit or was unaware of the code of the workplace context regarding higher social circumstances.
In sum, throughout the discussion held we came to the conclusion that things nee to be looked beyond on; whether it is language or a person we come into contact with. As global studies students we must always look for development of theories regarding the cultures we come into contact with.
Scribe: Mishell M
Emotional support and Creative Design: Adam Seaton and Rinzin Sonam