Having recently started teaching Theory of Knowledge for the first time this academic year, the links between Language A and TOK are even clearer. Recently while working through the language way of knowing, the class of year 1 diploma students and I watched RSA Animate’s 2011 video essay ‘Language as a window into human nature’ with “renowned experimental psychologist Steven Pinker”. In it, he details a useful way of students could categorise verbal communication. Quoting anthropologist Alan Fiske, there are three major types of human relationships; that of dominance, communality and reciprocity. Language is the way in which we negotiate between these spheres. Higgins in ‘Pygmalion’ is dominating in his dialogue to the flower girl, using communality with Pickering and able to use reciprocity as he conducts business with Doolittle the dustman. Showing perhaps Bernard Shaw to be an anthropologist as well as one of the greatest writers of the English speaking world. Teachers can use the same framework with their own students into the function and power of language.

Pinker, Steve (2011) Language as a window into human nature. RSA Animate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-son3EJTrU&feature=youtu.be