Culture, Communication, and Community: How Our Perceptions of Speech Can Unite or Divide Us

How we speak communicates far more to our audience than the words we use: the way we speak mingles with pervasive cultural attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes that almost invisibly communicate an identity—an assumption of the kind of person we are.  Listeners—those whom we speak to—automatically react to the words, phrases (cultural sayings), accents, and the degree of formality in our speech to form impressions of who we are.  This course is devoted to understanding how communication—especially intercultural communication—works. We will examine topics such as, why we hear some speech as accented (despite that everyone has an accent); whether we have a basic right to be understood—to be able to communicate effectively; how perceptions of peoples’ language use can distort our understanding of others; and how, as speaking beings, we can fashion an identity and sense of belonging. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

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