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Language Society and Power
London: Routledge, ISBN X. In the preface to this second edition, the authors classify the text as an introduction to the myriad relationships between language and society. They break down this complex topic into digestible slices and then layer the slices to illustrate the elaborate and multiplex connections between how one speaks and how one is perceived by and located within society. In Ch. This idea recurs throughout the text.
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About the Authors
By Linda Thomas and Shan Wareing. The express purpose of the book is to provide students with an introduction to the ways in which language not only reflects but also empowers existing structures within society. To accomplish this goal, the authors take particular care to integrate relevant examples from British and American newspapers and magazines. Although a perusal of the sources reveals that only two of the twelve were in fact American, the book nevertheless succeeds in bringing to light many of the ways in which language reinforces already existing power structures within American and British society. In an effort to make their point however, the sometimes overtly cynical tone of writing is such that students might be tempted to believe that all politics is rubbish and propaganda—a point which may be argued among academics but which could lead to unnecessary complacency and defeatism rather than critical consumption of information among younger readers. Given the importance of the internet today, however, it would also have been interesting had this form of media been included as well.
This is the book for anyone who has ever wondered how language influences thought, how language impacts on our daily life, and how power is perpetuated through language. The book contains numerous exercises, end of chapter summaries and a glossary of key terms. The authors encourage the reader to look beyond language as a form of information exchange and to consider the wider issues of the relationship between language and culture. Highly interdisciplinary, it will be essential for students of English language and linguistics from introductory or A-level upward. It is also of great relevance to students of media, communication, cultural studies, sociology and psychology.