Do we mean what we say? The title of this post is a sentence used by many politicians when there is a leadership speculation. It is often proven to be false. In fact, when the statement is made, we can be sure that a leadership spill is imminent. It was unusual then that Julie Bishop as deputy leader of the liberal party, did not use that term when she spoke yesterday. She distanced herself from Tony Abbott, stating that the deputy position is not deputy to the person, but deputy to the position.
Also Malcolm Turnbull had been silent on issues of leadership of late. He chose not to cause division in the party by not saying anything at all. If he indeed said that the leader had his full support, we would know that he was thinking about a leadership challenge.
Political speak these days had been prophesied by George Orwell in his book 1984 as well as in his essay “Politics and the English Language”. Orwell says that the use of language can corrupt thought.What the government does in promoting a certain dialogue in the media, is direct the way that people ought to think.
Stanley Cohen in the 60’s coined the term “moral panic”. That is the use of media by politicians and other public figures to shape the thoughts of the people. It is often used to promote an agenda of the government such as asylum seekers; creating an us and them mentality.
The corruption of the English language means that the common use of a word is no longer what the dictionary definition is. For example ‘Homophobia’ The word is comprised of two parts, originating from the Greek. Homo meaning the same and phobia meaning an intense fear. Put together, Homophobia means the fear of the same ( sex if we are taking the word Homo being as short for homosexual). The word Homophobia has come to mean not an intense fear of homosexuals, but rather a hatred and comtempt for those who are same sex attracted.
As George Orwell says in his essay, There is a solution. The solution is to get back to the basics.
Pauline Hanson was very right to ask for the definition of the word xenophobia. Before it was used in the 60 minutes interview with Pauline Hanson, this word was hardly ever used in conversational English. The word Xenos is Greek meaning stranger or alien or indeed foreign. Xenophobia has come to mean something totally different… that is racist.
Getting back to basics involves no thought really. It is saying it as it is. Saying what you really mean instead of trying to hide your views or disguise them using ‘politically correct’ language. War is NOT peace, black is NOT white, wrong is NOT right. An invasion of a country these days is termed as troop advancement into occupied territory. Please… its called invasion.
How does one start a move to combat this movement of language abuse? It starts with you. The writer of tomorrow. These days it is so simple to have an opinion, and it is so simple to share it. Get on your blog, get on facebook or twitter, or whatever platform you use to express your views and say what you really mean. Of course in academic writing a certain level of language skills is desired to be shown, but cut out the rhetoric. Use words that can be commonly understood by the level of scholar that you would like to reach. If you arent sure what that is, then go for the lowest common denominator. Use the KISS principle of language; that is Keep it Simple Stupid.
Have a nice day.