sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Occasionally I wonder if maybe I *am* the language police! Maybe I *am* too sensitive and it's not my job to tell other people how to talk or write, etc.

A few things reassure me.

One, lots of other people pay just as close attention to language and its political uses as I do, and some of these people blog about it. Some people blog about things I've never thought about, so maybe the things I notice are worth writing about.

For example:
Dave Hingsburger: Non-traditional doesn't mean unimportant.

The term I use, I insist that others use when they are speaking with me about someone they support is: non-traditional communicator. (As opposed to "non-verbal".)

Lydia Brown: Why the term 'psychopath' is racist and ableist. (Note: this post contains some upsetting language.)

Antisocial Personality Disorder, the diagnostic category that comes closest to approximating the lay definition of psychopathy, is most often a tool for criminalizing poverty, blackness and brownness, and disability. It is the diagnostic label that legitimizes non-compliance as a mental health problem.

---

Two, I find language and its uses fascinating. I will think about it anyway, so I might as well write about it.

Three, there are some phrases I use that make sense to me because not only do they seem like more accurate metaphors, they make the world a little kinder to live in.

For instance, when we speak of "lowering barriers" or obstacles, that seems kinder and easier than "overcoming obstacles". Lowering barriers is a group effort, a structural accomplishment that is done by many and benefits many. It agrees with the idea of the social model of disability. Overcoming obstacles might take teamwork, but it tends to focus on one person's drive, ambition, and success, and falls in line with the "supercrip" stereotype.

The same is true of interdependence vs. independence.

Language is subtle and it influences the way we think about ourselves and our world.

Date: 2014-01-24 01:29 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Extreme closeup of dark red blood cells (Blood makes noise)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Ahhhh! Your insight into lowering barriers is wow! chocolate! velvet! birdsong!

Date: 2014-01-25 03:39 am (UTC)
darkemeralds: DarkEm self portrait in magenta cowl, left profile, against a black wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkemeralds
The difference between overcoming obstacles and lowering barriers reminds me of the stuff George Lakoff wrote about in Don't Think of An Elephant!--the way differing values are conveyed subliminally by framing.

I had never thought about these two phrases, but they align very nicely with conservative and progressive values as Lakoff writes about them. Very interesting! This is the kind of consciousness-raising that makes a huge difference for me: I will always now be aware of this type of language use.

I don't presume to know what your "job" is with regard to telling other people how to use language, but I'll say this: I'm pretty open to having my mind expanded in these ways, and I got a lot out of this post.

Date: 2014-01-27 12:30 am (UTC)
antarcticlust: Silhouette of a reclining figure in front of the moon. (Default)
From: [personal profile] antarcticlust
I'm always surprised when people cite a love of language as a reason to NOT want to eliminate problematic words or phrases. I think you make a great point that it makes language richer, not poorer!

re: "love of language"

Date: 2014-01-27 02:06 am (UTC)
bibliofile: Fan & papers in a stack (from my own photo) (Default)
From: [personal profile] bibliofile
Doesn't that touch on the descriptive/prescriptive approaches to language? The latter like having The Superior Knowledge of How It's Supposed to Be, and the former understand that language can be a living thing?

Excellent post! I would like to subscribe to the newsletter.

Signed,
Splitting infinitives is impossible in Latin (a dead language, mind) but that doesn't mean it's BAD

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