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Language and reality

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Level
General public
Study
modern history
School/University
Columbia...

About the document

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documents in English
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Type
term papers
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5 pages
Level
General public
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  1. Introduction
  2. The hierarchical authority governing the speech
  3. The humble style of the old Latin bible
  4. The democratic element to language
  5. Wickham: A social inferior
  6. Risk discussed in Don Quixote
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

It is common cynical knowledge that in this world of spin, our perceptions of reality cannot possibly be divorced from the language it is presented in. But the question remains as to whether language creates or distorts reality. At the crux of the issue is really our definition of ?reality.? Is it merely a societal construct, a product of what the majority agrees upon or is forced to accept? If so, it may well be dependent upon the language of those with power, wit or persuasion. But if reality is more of a monolithic force, an absolute truth that transcends time and culture, then it is perhaps more likely to survive the abuses of language.

It can be, however, almost unequivocally asserted that during a feudalistic era of serfs, lords and kings, ?reality? was very much determined by the language of powerful entities. In Hamlet, Claudius dribbles tired platitudes as truths but gets away with it. Arguing rather clinically that the loss of a father is a universal phenomenon and an inevitable stage in life, (?your father lost a father,/that father lost his?) Claudius chastises Hamlet's sullen disposition and mourning for the late king as ?impious stubbornness? and ?unmanly grief.?(1.2 ln95) In subsuming the particularity of what a father's death might feel like to an individual under general rhetoric, Claudius is attempting to abdicate responsibility for his crime. For to deny the specificity of an act is to also downplay its significance.

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