Language

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Concept.png Language 
(communication technology)Rdf-icon.png

Human language is a method of communication. This article will focus on spoken language using words and phrases, although languages are not exclusively verbal[1].

National languages

Most modern nation states have single "national language" in which the government operates, although some have two or more. This is a modern development, started in the 15th century by Queen Isabella of Spain.[2]

Standardisation

A few people compiled dictionaries and wrote grammars which the technologies of printing and mass production then allowed to reach a wide audience. Combined with mass compulsion schooling, this effectively standardised written language. The process was repeated for spoken languages in the 19th century by television and radio. The ubiquity of a few dialects (e.g. the "Queen's English") on mass media was often associated with the view of local, unbroadcast forms as less "correct" or "proper" than others.

While facilitating communication, this standardisation process arguably slowed the natural evolution of languages at the same time as it opened up opportunities for language development to be manipulated by the select few with the means to broadcast.

Deceptive language

Deceptive language is understood to be an important part of advertisement, public relations and propaganda in general. This can include the deliberate insertion of words or phrases into a language (often from another language). Language deliberately crafted to deceive or even to terrorise is referred to as "weaponised".

The film Orwell Rolls In His Grave, for example, tells how the a PR company used this strategy to reduce popular opposition to abolition of the wealth tax; it was first renamed the "death tax", to misdirect people about its applicability. Similarly, "tar sands" were renamed "oil sands" to increase public appetite for their exploitation.[3]

Orwellian language

Full article: Stub class article Orwellian language

George Orwell's work is widely praised for its illustration of the power of language to shape thinking. In particular his dystopian novel 1984 features many examples of weaponised language used to obstruct clear thinking and otherwise serve the interests of the ruling elite. This has lead to a common vocabulary with which to express objections to modern ideas (for example, labelling new criminal offences as "thoughtcrimes").

Names

Frames

George Lakoff has done pioneering research on the area of framing. People's reactions are influenced not only by the words used to express policies, but also the bigger ideas which underlie those words (the frame).<ref><ref> Tax "relief", for example, is view

Definitions

Definitions can blur the distinction between fact and falsehood, can suggest misleading frames. The Integrity Initiative leak offers an illustrative example of projection.

"Disinformation"

Full article: “Countering disinformation”

A leaked report of the Integrity Initiative defines "disinformation" as follows:

“In this report, ‘disinformation’ refers to Kremlin influence operations within the communications environment, delivered through overt and covert promotion of intentionally false, distorting or distracting narratives.”
' [4]

Integrity Initiative, by this definition cannot engage in "disinformation", even when it is "combating disinformation" this is "factually true". As an example if mentions that one of Serbia's "most prominent pro-Kremlin narratives relates to Russia’s ongoing support for Belgrade in the Kosovo dispute, which is true." It does not explain what is distorting or distracting about this, wryly commenting only that "Responding to inconvenient truths, as opposed to pure propaganda, is naturally more problematic."

"Terrorism"

Full articles: “Terrorism”, “Counter-terrorism”

 

Examples

Page nameDescription
Arabic
French
German
Russian

 

Related Quotation

PageQuoteAuthorDate
Plastic word“Words strain - Crack and sometimes break, under the burden - Under the tension, slip, slide, perish - Will not stay still... For last year's words belong to last year's language - And next year's words await another voice.”T. S. Elliot1943

 

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Hijacking the word 'Islam' for Mantra Creationwebpage31 May 2009Zahir Ebrahim
Document:Overthrow Incarticle6 August 2009Stephen Gowans
Document:Politics and the English Languageessay1946George Orwell


References

  1. For example sign language, which is a formalisation of facial expressions and other gestures than accompany all human face to face communication
  2. Ivan Illich
  3. Such modifications are fairly easy to detect by looking
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named iil7


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