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    Macalester College
  Feb 23, 2018
College Catalog 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

SOCI 301 - Language and Alienation

We are living in the midst of an “irony epidemic,” where two of the most frequently used expressions in current American English are “like” and “whatever.” Both of these are literally advertisements that words are not the real thing (at best, they are “like” it), and that they don’t matter (since “whatever” you say is equally a matter of indifference). This course takes as its point of departure the sarcasm and irony in spoken American English, and proceeds to an investigation of how the peculiar message of sarcasm (“I don’t mean this”) is conveyed in other languages, and in the media. Not surprisingly, the study of cheap talk connects intimately with aspects of pop culture. More surprising, however, is the idea that the cheapness of talk is not only a currently recognized property of our language, but that it might serve to define the very essence of human language in general and offer insights into the origins and nature of our ability to speak at all. Prerequisite(s): one course in Linguistics. Two years in every three. (4 Credits)