Date of Award

Summer 8-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jan Osborn

Second Advisor

Ian Barnard

Third Advisor

Morgan Read-Davidson


Language acts as either a bridge or a barrier to social groups dependent upon the individual’s effective use of a social group’s language. The individual uses the language of the group in order to join the group and to be understood by the group. This suggests that language is behavioral in part and can be treated as a form of social norms which delegate who is a part of the group and who is not. By utilizing the language of the group effectively, an individual is able to join the group. This group language may be temporary, and the dynamics of the group’s language can be held only within specific situations, such as with inside jokes, or can be more lasting, such as the language of a discourse. Examples of group language include the use of academic jargon in the academy, key terms specific to an academic field, and the standardization of the English language. To formulate an interdisciplinary study of social epistemic rhetoric, this thesis looks at the crossovers between two fields of study through a comparative analysis of social epistemic rhetorical theory and psychological research concerning language production and perception, the effect language has on understanding, and social mirroring processes that may be generalized to language production. This rhetorical theory now grounded in psychological science calls for experimental testing to find the limitations of group dynamics involving language.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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