I’ve already learned that I really have to finish what I start at least in the same 24 hours or so because my mind will be somewhere totally different after that. So, I might polish this but it is what it is.
I love language, I love the English language in all its permutations. I love its complexity, its tones and shades. Of all the brushes of art it is the broadest to me. German is a neat language but it is cumbersome. They make new words by stringing old words together or adopting words from other languages. English usually grows from the streets, occasionally adopting something usually encountered in music or from the web. Those words my mother though of as disgusting slang words spread and a few are finally accepted into formal communications, like using the word selfie for a picture taken of yourself. Or the misuse of an existing word like opinionated to mean having a lot of opinions instead of “conceitedly assertive and dogmatic in one’s opinions,” as Google has it still. I will bristle when called that until I’m reassured the user didn’t know its real meaning.
The thing about English is that it is so easy to weave words into the most amazing images. The gradations available in English are limited only by our own linguistic sense. When a word doesn’t exist we can make it without the gargantuan constructions of German. I don’t know how other languages make new words. In this globalized world it seems adoption is so common. But taking language as we used it in our daily lives and reweaving it is so attractive. Rap music is really poetry to music. Listen to the language in it (beeping out the cursing and obscenity) and how words are layered to make more than a picture but a relief sculpture with great depth and detailed where desired.
We play with language. It really does mould our view of the world. Examples from Addicting Info that just popped up on my Facebook:
“Government spending?” No, we’re “investing in America.”
“They’re not ‘entitlements.’ Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment are “earned benefits” that we PAY for.”
“’Gun Control?’ How about “gun safety?”
I really became aware of it when I was reading fairy tales in the German. English really changes the tone. The word choice really matters. I found the children’s stories really scary in German. Some are in English but I was horrified as an American reading what they told children in the 1800s. It has an impact that can last a lifetime. The art of writing to me is to take words and refocus or to extend focus. The narratives we write are to give context to concepts, to explore how our conceptual framework structures our lives. Ultimately I want to answer the question, how do we build a community that supports all of its members in the ways they need? So I write to address all the subsets of that question.
Who are members? What needs can community fill? Where does the individual start and stop and where does the individual fit into a community? Does the community really address everyone’s needs or are there those who don’t belong in that community? If there are those who don’t fit, where do they go and then how do communities with different needs coexist in a global setting? How can we build a world where conflicts don’t become wars? Most conflicts are over relative things like religion, laws, economic systems, scarce resources. Can we move the conversation through changing our point of view? I believe so and I believe that change comes through how we talk about them. Language matters so much. There are so many examples from advertising slogans to the way laws are being made about how we talk about science. Politics is the first and final place where we recognize manipulation. We have called it propaganda. It has to do with who is the good guy and who is the bad, who is taking and who is giving, who is working and who is mooching.
I want to steer clear of overt politics in speaking of language but it is such a rich pot of examples of the use/misuse of language. It is the most typical place you find language used to lead or mislead.