Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 2 (3 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   10 comments

Life Arts

The Language of Our Country

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 3   Valuable 3   Must Read 2  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H4 11/25/11

Become a Fan
  (1 fan)
- Advertisement -

The Language of Our Country

by Peter Theis

If you had to choose just one of the following exclamations to hear all day long, which would you prefer, and what do you think the impact would be?

"You are such a jerk!"

"You are absolutely wonderful!"

Lera Boroditsky, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, named one of the 25 Visionaries Changing the World by Utne Reader, says:  "I set out to show that language didn't affect perception, but I found exactly the opposite.  It turns out that languages meddle in very low-level aspects of perception, and without our knowledge or consent shape the very nuts and bolts of how we see the world."
- Advertisement -

Science is confirming what we all know on a gut level is just common sense:  Words have a profound impact on how we think, how we perceive the world, and as a result how we behave and act. 

Recently, while paying for some items at a local grocery store, the young lady working there told me, "Wow, this is the healthiest stuff I've rung up in a long time!"  I smiled and responded, "Wow, what a concept!  Eating healthy stuff!"  But then I thought:  Isn't that kind of like her saying, "Wow, you're the first person in a long time I've met who doesn't hit himself in the head with a hammer!"?

So what is the dietary language of our country?  What words do we use most of the time, and what might be some healthier choices?  Here are some dynamics to consider:

Work <-->  Play
Competition <--> Cooperation
Our Leaders <--> We the People
Economy <-->  Ecology
Grades <-->  Growth
Symptoms <-->  Sources
Separation <--> Connection

Author and social critic Derrick Jensen often asks, "How do we make the US economy grow?"  And when those he asks usually go about immediately answering, he points out how most people don't stop to look at the language and the base assumptions built into that question:  Do we even want the US economy to "grow"?  If so, in what ways?  And who, exactly, is the "we" we're talking about here?

If you haven't already done this, the next time politicians speak of "democracy" and "freedom" and "security" and "justice," try looking at it as if they are not speaking about us, or even about our country, but about the elite class they serve.  Are we really bringing "freedom" to the countries we invade, or is it actually the "freedom" corporate and banking interests have to profit from war and the monopolization of markets and resources?  Is it really "justice" and "democracy" for all of us, or mostly just for the 1%? 

George Orwell called it "double-think."  Edward Bernays, the founding father of Public Relations, called it "propaganda."

In the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi looking for the best language to shape our world:  metaphors be with you.  Or rather, with all of us.

Peter Theis holds a PhD in Creative Writing & Literature from the Center for Writers at the University of Mississippi and teaches Humanities, English and Writing courses in North Carolina.

- Advertisement -


Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
The impact of language...

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

PhD in Creative Writing & Literature from the University of Southern Mississippi. CV online here:

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

All The Signs Are Here... Where We Go Is Up To Us

The Language of Our Country

Will Warren Buffet Join 'Occupy Wall Street'?

Occupy Together Movement Is Democracy At Its Best

Politics and Carbohydrates


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
8 people are discussing this page, with 10 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
George Orwell didn't call it "double-speak". ... by Jo M on Friday, Nov 25, 2011 at 11:59:01 AM
I had no intention of recommending the above comme... by Shirley Harned on Friday, Nov 25, 2011 at 2:52:56 PM
Ohhh, that's a likely story. Around here (OEN), we... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 8:16:46 PM
One of the most egregious examples of how words ca... by Philip Zack on Friday, Nov 25, 2011 at 2:10:15 PM
that Republican compromise, or more accurately, ri... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 7:31:18 AM
thanks for your input... by Peter Theis on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 9:14:12 PM
Rodulf Höss build gas chambers to kill because he... by Donnie McLeod on Friday, Nov 25, 2011 at 3:13:49 PM
A certain Julia Middleton institutionalized a proc... by Michael Rose on Saturday, Nov 26, 2011 at 10:36:51 PM
nice additional accompanying info, thanks... by Peter Theis on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011 at 10:46:46 AM
Science is confirming what we all know on a gut... by Peter Theis on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011 at 10:48:51 AM