Language is a medium of communication, but the words, sounds, and grammar of it do not simply put labels on experience for an easy transfer between interlocutors. Rather, such language features allow for systematic variations that help speakers to signal attitudes about the ideas they communicate. Listeners and readers attend to these embedded social signals as they negotiate how much of a given communication to understand and whether to block or fi lter some of it. In other words, human language contains multiple possibilities for interlocutors to shape their communications in accordance with their values. The constant negotiation of meaning between interlocutors complicates communication, and it complicates any description of language. Linguists often use the word “discourse” as a term to indicate language in use – as a tool that includes social and affective signals. Discourse analysis examines what people say or write in order to understand how people are using language to accomplish social and emotional goals along with communicating ideas.