Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Nebraska Educator, Volume 5 (2020), pp. 177-193.

ISSN 2375-6853

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.ne009


© 2020 University of Nebraska


The following is a conceptual paper consisting of a series of short, critical essays written for the “Language and Power” course taught by Professor Loukia K. Sarroub at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln during Fall 2019. The purpose of these essays is to understand the power of language, communication, and discourse in society and in education. Each essay is itself unique and connected to the others and explores the role of language in community and institutional settings. Language is intrinsically connected to culture, and most societies show their hierarchal power through it. For example, the short essay “‘Ketchup’ with Social Norms” explicitly shows how a relationship between a man and a woman could be compromised because of possible misunderstandings resulting from the different ways women and men use language in a contextualized situation. The essays in this paper draw on the work of social theorists and major thinkers such as Ahmed, Bourdieu, Butler, Cameron, Dewey, Foucault, R. Lakoff, and Tannen, among others, in connection to a range of topics centered on language as symbolic power and symbolic capital and its semiotic meanings.