Language’s Power


Language as a Place of Struggle

What does it mean to say that “language is a place of struggle”? Do you ever stop to reflect upon the energetic themes of implicit meaning – the subtext of language – within the words you speak? In other words, there is a lot more within the words we are speaking than just the words we are speaking. Words reflect cognitions (thinking), and cognitions reflect social conditioning (cultural attitudes and beliefs). The language we share is reflective of the power-dynamics we also share; the language we share reveals the internal cultural structures that support our behaviors; the language we share points to the deeper meanings of our relationships. What are you really saying, and what does your speaking say about how you view and relate to this world, to other people, to all life on Earth, and to the Earth? Are you aware of the struggle for power within your words?

We live in a world where the dominant way of relating comes from a dominant way of being; we live in a world where the social dynamics are usually in the form of a power-over relationship. It is easy to not even realize this power-over dynamic is a social construction. In other words, relating through a power-over dynamic is not necessarily our “natural” way of being. Our language is a powerful mechanism of our social conditioning; the language we share is a powerful way of making the way we relate with one another seem “normal.” The language we share is a powerful element of the social process of normalization.

“In the culture of patriarchy (whether overt or hidden), the different voice with its ethic of care sounds feminine. Heard in its own right and on its own terms, it is a human voice” (Gilligan, 2011, p. 25).

Reference

Gilligan, C. (2011). Joining the resistance. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

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