If you know me, you know I read a lot ( I also write a lot hence the blog). As someone who writes and reads and also speaks three languages fluently and has a basic understanding of several other ones, I notice a lot of people don’t pay much attention to how they say things.
This does not only mean the syntax of a language but also just different words saying the same thing on the surface but having a broader connotation. This is especially true in our modern western society with its vast fight about self-determination and reproductive rights, especially female ones.
A language in itself has a connotation, German in the example is very technical and precise, while English though closely related is much more poetic and compared simplified. Did you know the English “You” is the German “Sie”? Meaning the English dropped the informal pronoun “Thou” which would be the German “Du”. Technically they should speak formal, but instead in the English Language, we use the informal first name with the formal pronoun. Language-wise this now feels natural, and most people assume English is a very casual language, not realizing it is a very weird mix. Now if your learning German you’ll know the pronouns are much more precise and we have male-female and neutral ones who switch around if you’re talking singular or plural on top of it. This is how Germans know your foreign. You will never get this right.
Regarding single words meaning the same on first impression a good example would be “Childfree” vs. “~Childless”. Childfree are people who by choice stay childfree and have for whatever reason decided to consciously not have children (yours truly among these people). There is an excellent reddit for people like this and mainly it’s us complaining about relatives, co-workers, and friends pushing the so-called life script, but there are some useful tips there and a great and helpful community. Even some parents who regret their choice or want to stay people parents instead of becoming Mombies and Daddicts. However, in the media we’re thrown a lot of times together with the childless. This could be not more wrong. Childless are people who want but don’t have children. These are people who suffer, and it is actually for both insulting.
Then there is the example where words are used as political weapon, like the so-called “pro-life” Movement. If you’re familiar with these people, you know they are not pro-life, but much rather against self-determination and forced birth for women. The other side calls these people pro-birthers or pro-breeders, which I think is a way to harmless. However here you can see how language and words are used to develop and brand a political and ethical cause.
You might now say, but what does that have to do with me I’m intelligent, and I see this. Yes, you probably are, after all, you’re reading this post. However, language is not only that it is also the Operating System our Brain uses (mainly the grammar being the programming structure) so what words you use in what context will influence your thoughts, hence you need to take control.
There are some excellent science fiction books by Jack Vance who deal with the influence language has on culture. That is if you never read 1984 and never noticed that the primary job the protagonist has is controlling language.
This is also why right-wing populists use words like Fake news, they re are artificial easy, and everybody knows what it means, but it also carries the connotation that the traditional journalism isn’t trusted worthy (it never was read my last post if you want to know more). And that is precisely how this works.
Therefore we must take control of language and not leave it to politics and right-wing and religious nutjobs, at least if we want a genuinely self-determined and liberal society.