Ethics Question and Answer – Ethics Course
1.Do you think our society minimizes the power language holds?
Actually I refuse to think that our society minimizes the power language holds! On the contrary, we take as much advantage as we can by choosing very appropriate words. For example, in the speech that Abraham Lincoln held at the Gettysburg Address, as we examine its language we realize that every word was very carefully chosen, and another
arrangement of words may not have had such a big impact as this one had.
In many fields such as politics, law, constitution, teaching, our society is very aware of choosing the right words that best express its intentions. Using the wrong words between two big nations in a treatment of peace could trigger a world war, and we all are very aware of that. Sometimes words hurt more than actions…
2. Do you believe that racist and sexist language has decreased in our society?
There is still some racist and sexist language that is used every day in our society. But compared to a few decades ago, this usage has decreased from being subject of the society to being used only in small groups.
For example, when the Negro was still considered legitimately as a slave, it was because the white man considered himself superior to the black man, thus racism. Nowadays, legally the black man has the same civil rights as the white man. But there are still some groups of people that do not accept this condition of equality, such as the Ku Klux Klan, or the Black Panther Party.
According to sexism, we have also made a big effort to consider sexes, masculine and feminine, equal. When before, the woman was destined only to work at home and take care of the children, nowadays we can see women leading big companies. But just like racism, a woman with the same job position as a man might get a little less salary than him. It is so, because the man still considers the woman as the weak sex and it hurts his ego to see a woman have more power than him.
So sexism, such as racism is not yet completely eradicated, but we can heavily affirm that both have decreased considerably in the past decades.
3. Describe the difference between connotative and denotative meanings of words. Explain how our different cultures and backgrounds affect this.
Connotation is the suggestion of a meaning by a word beyond what it explicitly denotes or describes. The word, home, for example, means the place where one lives, but by connotation, also suggests security, family, love and comfort.
Denotation on the other hand describes the literal dictionary meaning of a word, such as it is described in the dictionary.
We have to know how to carefully choose the right words when we converse. A word or expression, such as “nigger” for example, refers to the black man. But it has different connotation, depending on who is using the word. If a black man says “nigger”, it is ok since we understand that he is referring to the black man. But if a white man uses “nigger”, automatically this is considered as a racist depreciation of the black man, and that person would most likely have serious confrontation with other black people.
4. Select three and briefly report the results:
Monitor a conversation you have with a friend…
My body or non-verbal language slightly differs whether I’m talking to a friend, or someone I know and feel comfortable with, and a person I just met and I want to give a good impression of myself.
When I am talking to a friend, I feel free to express myself the most naturally as possible. This implies constant describing movement with my arms. I try to be as descriptive and dramatic as possible, knowing that whatever emblems I use, my friend won’t find it exaggerated or weird and run away because he or she knows me already and accepts it. If I am sad, you would see it in my facial expression because I would like somebody to ask me about how I feel and give me his or her affection. I would not pay that much attention to regulators and sometimes interrupt my friend even if he or she is not done with his or her sentence.
When I was having an interview for a summer job though, my body expression was totally different. I tried to give a nice and smiley facial expression to show a good impression of myself. My arms were leaning together in front of my pelvis, and I remember having my hands in constant tension and rubbing one with the other. I paid much more attention to regulators and only talked when I recognized that it was my turn to talk.
In a conversation where you would normally give eye contact to a friend, stop giving it…
Since I am used to looking the other person directly in the eyes, the first sensation I encountered was that I could no longer talk naturally. Since my eyes were naturally trying to go back to their usual position, keeping them down needed extra concentration and I constantly had to think about it. Therefore I couldn’t get 100% into the conversation and I used more vocal non-fluencies than I usually do.
It did make me feel very uncomfortable because I could not control the situation anymore: I could not see the expressions of the person I was talking to, I couldn’t see whether he or she agreed with my opinion, whether he or she was listening to me or even if he or she was making a dubitative facial expression showing that he or she was totally lost in the conversation, or wasn’t paying attention to my words. All this lack of visual contact concluded in a lost of regulation and a lack of control, which made me feel very insecure and uncomfortable.
Also, after not even a minute had passed, the other person already asked me if something was wrong or what I was doing starring at the ground, and I had to tell him or her what was going on so that he or she would not think I had gone crazy.
Exploring touch can be a dangerous activity as other people can completely misunderstand our intentions.
After thinking of the different touch interactions I have monitored, I think I can categorize myself as a touch closed person. My interactions with other people through touching differs from talking to a close friend to someone I know, and it is also different if I am talking to a girl or to a boy. Of course, if I am talking to someone that is not a friend or somebody I know well, I will only have a hand shake with him or her, avoiding any further touch. If I am talking to someone I know well, my touching depends on whether I am talking to a boy or a girl. If it is a boy, I might have touch interactions such as shaking hands, touching his shoulder, his back or sometimes his stomach as a joke. If it is a girl on the other hand, any touch that goes beyond the hand shake I consider it as flirting. For example, when a girl-friend wanted me to take and feel her hand because there was something she wanted me to see, I couldn’t avoid flirting with her and looking at her in a sensual way.
I guess this is because I have only had boy-friends for the past eight years and I don’t remember anymore how it is to be with a girl without thinking of her as the opposite sex, but only as a friend.
5. Is it possible for us not to communicate verbally or nonverbally? Why or why not?
Communication can be done either verbally or nonverbally. Therefore, in order to being able to communicate we must use at least one of the two ways. The natural way to communicate is using both at the same time, so if you avoid one of them it is either because you have any kind of disabilities or because you are forcing yourself not to use it. Either way, we can say that it is possible for us not no communicate verbally and nonverbally at the same time, thus using only one of both ways.
It is sufficient to talk in order to communicate our message to another person. The only problem is that words can not always exactly express what we want to communicate. On the other hand, it is also possible, but especially in this case very limitative as far as transmitting with exactitude our message, to communicate only with use of the body. For example this is a very common way deaf people use to communicate. The only problem is that only a very few number of people know dominate this language.
If you are a normal person, without hearing problems, and you want to communicate with another person that speaks a completely different language that you don’t understand, you use body language. The problem is that both of you are limited in using only very basic language, not being able to have complicated conversations.
6. Which do you believe is more accurate, nonverbal or verbal messages?
As I have just stated in question 5, the best way to communicate is using both, nonverbal and verbal messages at the same time. But clearly, if we have to separate them, it is much more exact to use verbal communication unless we dominate the sign language that deaf people use. This is because we have a very bigger variety of words in our language that lets us express what we want to communicate in a much more exact way than our knowledge in signs does.
For example, if you want to discuss the essence of existence and our mission in life, you would most likely not get very far using only nonverbal language (we consider writing also as a verbal message), only because you don’t know enough signs to express all your ideas and feelings.
Another example would be a baby crying. Baby’s cry for different reasons: they are hungry, they feel pain, they want to be held by their mother, they are cold, they have poop, they are sick, etc. Sometimes it is difficult even for its mother to find out why her baby is crying. If the baby was able to talk and tell his or her mother the reason of why he or she was crying, it would be much easier and faster for her to help the baby.