This is our regular and fairly informal monthly meeting. Our presenter is
A. Charles Catania
We tend to think of language as an instrument of reason or a conveyor of information. A more fundamental function, however, is that it is an efficient way for one person to get another to do something. Everything else about language derives from this irreducible function. This functional approach focuses on what we do with words and not on their grammatical structure. Let us see where it takes us to think of language simply as behavior, shaped by its consequences. When we attend to people mostly when they say some things and rarely when they say others, what they say comes to conform to what gets attention. This is verbal shaping. It happens in the natural course of social interactions but can also be deployed deliberately. We’ve also learned to behave in ways consistent with what we say. That means that when we shape what people say about what they do, we also may change what they do. This isn’t theory; these phenomena are common features of language. Research data and examples will illustrate these ubiquitous properties of language and suggest how they underlie many features of human culture, including politics and religion.
The talk will be followed by a snack break where people can socialize and merge into a Q &A with the speaker.
Handouts about WASH and other secular, scientific and humanist topics will be available.
All are welcome.