Write a Note on Language and Power

When we think of “power,” the first thing that comes to mind is how it is used to stifle free will through orders and submission. This is how “power” has enabled several vices in human society. In sociopolitical and socioeconomic contexts, “power” has been linked to the dominance of one group over another or the authority of one individual over another. Language takes on the function of a tool to exert control over the dominated people since language is the primary means through which this power is articulated and communicated. However, in terms of linguistics, the “power of language” refers to the way a specific language or dialect comes to be seen as significant due to its elite usage, particularly in education, and its reputation in the community as a standard language.

This common version of the language is used in all dictionaries, newspapers, magazines, radio and television news, and all grammars. Latin was forced upon the students as the only standard language (together with Greek) during the prescriptive years of language learning and education, and its grammar evolved into a standard for authors. English was described as “vile,” “base,” “primitive,” “vulgar,” “substandard,” and so on in compared to Latin and Greek.

The King’s or Queen’s English was regarded as a prestigious dialect among the well-educated. Which language must be selected as the official language and/or the medium of instruction depends on sociopolitical and economic factors. English was imposed on India during the British era, where it quickly took over as the primary language and the main means of communication between the monarch and the subject population.

The local languages were strongly influenced by it as it became the language of education, government, and the judiciary. Because of this “power” of English, significant scientific and technological research began, and several colleges that taught English literature were formed in an effort to open doors to other cultures. Acknowledging the existence of a body of writing that is much more standard than other literature is all that is meant by the term “Canonical Literature.”

Today, we designate a particular type of writing that is published outside of Britain using names like “New Literatures.” The British model was meant to be followed when it came to teaching English as a subject in schools. The languages spoken by the lower classes, known as vernacular languages, differed from this standard form. For instance, many African Americans in America use African American Vernacular English. English spoken and written outside of the British Isles and by non-native speakers have overtaken Eurocentric English in today’s globe.

Since Hindi is the language of the Brahmin power and is chosen above other native languages as a medium of communication in India, it is being promoted as the country’s official language. The northern Indian states feel privileged to be using and promoting this language as an alternative to, say, English, which is currently the most dominant language, despite the South’s resistance and rejection of its hegemony.