Language Manipulation In Deborah Tannen's But What Do You Mean

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Language Unit Comparison Essay: Manipulation

To analyze the English language is to rediscover how to speak. When scrutinizing every word or sentence, one’s whole perspective changes. How language affects a speaker, reader or writer is a complex maze of tone, diction and meaning. But, all these things tie into the concept of language manipulation. Language can manipulate one’s thoughts or actions. Through rhetoric strategies, language choice or deliverance, every word has a point to make and an action it hopes to cause. Examples of language manipulation are everywhere. In almost any everyday conversation you can detect it’s usage. Such uses of manipulation in speech are analyzed in an essay called, “When Words Don’t Mean What They Mean.” By
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In her essay “But What Do You Mean” Deborah Tannen delves into the speech patterns of men and women in the workplace, and how the way they speak manipulates their thoughts and actions. She opens the essay with the statement that “Conversation is a ritual.” And continues to elaborate on this point by going through each part of said “ritual” between men and women. She begins with the concept that women apologize too much, and explains why they do. She states that the apologies are “an automatic way of keeping both speakers on an equal footing.” Which, is a way to manipulate the conversation. The apologies are used as “a mutual face-saving device” according to Tannen, and that is just another way to explain language manipulation. Like the usage of indirect language, profuse apologies or thank yous women often use, are used as manipulation to make the other party understand that they are not superior to them. It may be unneeded in most situations as Tannen explains, but it represents how these words manipulate the actions of the women using them, and the thoughts of the people who view them speaking this
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