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A History of Words

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by

david mason

on 5 January 2016

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Transcript of A History of Words

Words
What words mean to you in everyday life...
Jiahu Script
7,000 years ago
China
Carved on tortoise shell
Some controversy: is this writing or decoration?
"Language is an artifact of the collective mind of history. It has imperfections and odd quirks, and makes peculiar demands of its speakers [and writers]. Its textures and patterns have been created over a long period of time as it has been dragged through millions mouths..."
Cuneiform
3,000 years ago in the Middle East
Earliest confirmed form of writing
1,000 symbols representing words were formed by pressing a wedge into clay
"A study of more than 100 large American corporations, which together employ 8 million people, suggests that writing is more important than it ever has been."
Writing is a "threshold skill" you need to even get hired
75% need say their employees need "strong writing skills in their daily work..."
s
Greek
Germanic
Languages
English
800 B.C.
Letters represent sounds instead of words
Latin
700 B.C.
Language of Science
Adopted by the Catholic Church
Spread across Europe by the Roman Empire
Spanish
French
"The development of complex societies, with social hierarchies, private property, economies that supported tax-funded authorities, and trade, all combined to create a need for written records. The increasingly sophisticated system of writing that developed also helped the civilization develop further, facilitating the management of complex commercial, religious, political, and military systems."
http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/cuneiform-writing-system-ancient-mesopotamia-emergence-and-evolution#sect-background
The First Word by Christine Kenneally
Words can create oppressive identities or can create freedom and change

Language is power spread by economic, cultural and military forces

In Summary:
Spanish
Identity
http://udel.edu/~dlarsen/ling101/slides/humananimalhandout.pdf
Words define us:
Socially
Individually
Language is political
markers of identity
conduits of power
How does your use of language create
your personal identity?
Do you say "pop" or "soda"?
Do you say...
"Ya'll"
"Like..."
"Dude..."
"Yo..."
Individual
The words you use lead to:
1) Construction of identity
2) Being categorized by others
Socially
How does culture use language to define you?
Undocumented workers
vs
Illegal immigrants
Climate change
vs
Global Warming
Obamacare
vs
Affordable Care Act
Full transcript