Monthly Archives: February 2012

The language paradox

Language can either work for you, or against you. Because it’s not just some “words”, it’s the mental and cultural architecture that frames the way we think and the way we are able to express ourselves. And it’s not necessarily all about the grammar and the punctuation, it’s also about the meaning and the effect we let words have over us.

For example, when a military power accidentally slaughters innocent bystanders, it’s not military incompetence resulting in the senseless death of innocent civilians anymore. No, it’s, as the media calls it, just “collateral damage”. The last time I checked, “collateral” is a type of payment somebody puts down when applying for a loan or a similar service. And I don’t think that there’s any  dead civilians out there who ever  agreed to have their lives put up as an insurance for a morally questionable military intervention. But that’s just an example of one party using  the power of language and making it work for them.

With the english language, all numbers between 12 and 20 have a “teen” suffix added to them. So as a result, anyone that’s under 20  can be referred to as being a “teenager”, which in my opinion can explain the higher age of majority in certain anglophone jurisdictions. As far as the law, and as far as anyone else  is concerned, any 18 year-old in Quebec is an adult, not a teenager. Because there’s no ” teen” related suffix for numerals in french. But all the other 18 to 19 year olds in all the other anglophone provinces of Canada will always be referred to as being quite up to the level of an adult, because they’re still “teenagers”. That’s what happens when language works against you.

As some of you might have noticed, I keep  going back to my  point that  “a representative democracy” isn’t the same as “a democracy”. That’s because I refuse to let the politico media establishment hijack the way we think just like that. Information is power. And propaganda has always been less effective on an educated populace.

Ideally, everyone should be vigilant and skeptical about everything that’s being said by politicians and the mainstream media, and about the way they say it. But the reality is that we live in the age of infotainment, objectivity flew out the window a long time ago…