Why dose language play such important part in the concept of the noble?

1 Answer | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

In regard to Oryx and Crake, language is central to the concept of the noble in literature because it is the medium that has historically captured and preserved some of the world's greatest and most noble thoughts and conceptual ideas. Language is equally important to the concept of the noble because of its sociopolitical importance.

Societies and individuals within societies unconsciously as well as, later, intentionally, assign prestige, or value, to the language that an individual employs. For instance, in the British Isles, the pronunciation of /r/ is dropped from the end of words when preceding a word beginning in a vowel: "fo Amy" and not "for Amy." In the British Isles, this constitutes a mark of prestige. Consequently, a person from Scotland who uses a heavy /r/ sound (called retroflexive) in all word instances is usually seen as having a lower social and academic standing, which often translates into lower career achievement opportunities, which equates to lower worth. In other words, this individual has lower language related prestige.

This holds true in regard to all languages that have established a prestige language standard. Since prestige influence is equated with personal, social, academic and career standing, or value, language becomes inextricably bound up in the concept of who and what is noble. This concept is manifest in literature in a fashion that reflects the reality in society.

Additionally, while there are fallacies attendant upon judging worth, value and prestige by language, there is a self-confirming truth to the prestige language ideology in that better educated people tend to use language more expertly and then attain better higher education, move in better social circles, engage more readily in governmental concerns, and have better career opportunities, all of which are preconceived as equated with higher integrity, ethics, compassion and moral values: the noble. (Enron will always remind us that this is not necessarily true.)

We’ve answered 317,881 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question