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The Place of Language in an Individual’s Life

Language is the fabric that supports and sustains social relationships through communication and interaction, enabling individuals to share their perceptions, feelings, and experiences. It is an essential tool in self-expression as it enables individuals to package their thoughts and deliver them effectively according to their audience. Sociocultural diversity crafts language as a multidimensional aspect because different cultural groups perceive and package it distinctively. As such, language is contextual because the speaker must make appropriate word choices and deliver their message acceptably and understandably among their audience to make a meaningful conversation. In Toni Cade Bambara’s short story, “The Lesson,” it is easy to identify how an individual’s cultural background affects their language and ability to use it contextually. An individual’s intelligence significantly impacts their capacity to package and use language in different social settings, driving their efficiency in communication and social interaction.

The ability to effectively make the appropriate language selection and deliver the intended message, either verbally or nonverbally, is a critical marker of intelligence. Individuals must be informed and reasonable enough to choose the right words, give them the correct order, and package their message in a reasonable style. Although intelligence is multidimensional and factors critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which might only sometimes relate to diction and fluency, highly educated and informed persons often make influential and great orators who understand how to use language to drive their points and influence crowds wittily. Such political figures as Barack Obama and Franklin Lincoln are perfect examples. Therefore, while one cannot measure intelligence with efficacy in language use, a remarkable correlation exists between the two aspects.

In “The Lesson,” Miss Moore, who has a college degree and more substantive exposure than her neighbors and the children, uses language in a manner that reflects her intelligence. The author writes that Miss Moore is always planning things for the children, engaging them in reasonable conversations about inequality and money, and teaching them how they can advance themselves to become better people in the future (Bambara 2). However, other uneducated grownups in the block are idle, making irrelevant observations concerning her grooming and presentation (Bambara 1). Furthermore, the children’s use of language in the high-end store reflects their lack of exposure and lower intelligence, always inquiring from Miss Moore about the purpose of different goods. For instance, Miss Moore has to explain that no one can outgrow learning instruments like a microscope (Bambara 2). Generally, Miss Moore’s language use reflects a well-informed character who is knowledgeable and understands what needs to be done, where, and why.

Language use is contextual and requires modifying wording, packaging, and delivery to fit different social settings. Intelligent people have crafted this schema and are always efficient in communications and social interactions. To use language effectively, we must understand the message recipient’s customs, attitudes, and perceptions to avoid delivering contradictory statements that might create disagreements and conflicts. This requires analyzing the social setting, the audience’s mood, and their knowledge to make informed decisions on what to say and how. Some social settings require informal language, while others require formal language. For instance, language choice in a professional meeting significantly differs from wording and message delivery in a family meeting. Language is a pivotal aspect of social mobility as individuals must be able to adapt to different settings for easy exploration of different spheres. Therefore, individuals must learn to adapt to different environmental settings for their language choice to be impactful.

In “The Lesson,” the children’s visit to high-end departmental stores while coming from disadvantaged neighborhoods presents them with vital challenges in language use. The children cannot switch their slums-based communication style to a reasonable language that fits their new environment. They cannot communicate in fluent, understandable English. For instance, Rosie Giraffe describes the store as “White folks crazy,” which is not a clear and formal way of describing an expensive store (Bambara 5). Conversely, Miss Moore effectively adapts to the environment, engaging the children on such vital and contextual aspects as the prevailing inequality and the theoretical democracy in the country (Bambara 5). Her ability to change language prepares her for social mobility, and the children’s stagnation reflects their inability to transcend different social settings without hindrances effectively. Therefore, the author portrays the importance of adaptability in supporting the efficient usage of language.

The universality of language use is arguable since effective communication requires focusing on the specific environment rather than adhering to certain requirements. Although clarity and empathy are indispensable regardless of the social setting, language requires appropriate use of tone and wording in a manner that fits the concept and the context. Addressing subordinates in an official meeting will require a different approach than engaging teammates in a team-building session. In “The Lesson,” Miss Moore fails in this aspect and addresses such hefty concepts as democracy and economic inequality to children who cannot comprehend her message (Bambara 5). She is so professional and academic in instances that she needs to create moments with the children and teach them without academic and technical jargon.

Besides, language is constantly evolving, with the introduction of new wordings and the integration of different cultures that normalize certain practices. For instance, a multicultural workplace is likely to normalize some communication routines that are unacceptable in other settings as a way of accommodating and embracing diversity. Technology has also interrupted how people use language, with significant alteration of formal communication characterized by using short forms in written messages and new words in verbal communication. Therefore, understanding language requires appreciating these differences and knowing that the rightfulness and inappropriateness of a particular language are contextual and conceptual.

In a nutshell, language and intelligence have a strong relationship, with intelligent persons who can adapt to different environments, select the right words for their message, and communicate effectively in diverse settings. In “The Lesson,” Miss Moore reflects an informed and educated individual who can use language effectively in different environments but fails by educating children on issues they cannot comprehend. However, the children represent less informed individuals who need help to adjust their language to fit different social settings, hence, are unable to exercise social mobility. Effective language use requires informed individuals who can analyze their audience and tailor their concept and communication style appropriately and design. Therefore, it is imperative to adopt a learn-relearn system in language use to fit in different settings while continually adopting an analytical approach for audience understanding.

Work Cited

Bambara, Toni Cade. The Lesson – WordPress.Com, 1972,


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