In her essay Arts of the Contact Zone, Mary Louise Pratt addresses a fairly linguistically conservative audience, and so makes as extensive use of lexical sets as possible. The initial paragraph of the “Contact and Community” section illustrates this well with its socio-political lexis. Here is a fairly detailed list of the words Pratt uses:

contact zone, community, communication, utopian, social, speech community, discrete, self-defined, coherent, homogeneous, identically, equally, members, Benedict Anderson (Woot!), “imagined communities,” “primordial villages,” human, entities, communion, distinguished, features, characterize, nation, boundaries, sovereign, fraternal, nation-community, citizen-soldier.

Even by this list alone, one gets a pretty good grasp of what Pratt wants to communicate. Of course, the meaning is all in the grammatical relations of these words, but they form a coherent star belt around the socio-political nucleus. This helps draw in Pratt’s audience, creating a semantic framework on which to reconstruct her argument. Pratt could, perhaps, convey the same idea without adhering to such a set, but it would be far less effective, and the audience would have to do far more work to relate her ideas to one another.

To Shirey, I hope you feel well enough to come in tomorrow; it’s becoming lonesome out here.

Advertisements