Words, language and importance

5 years 4 months ago #2708 by Wescli Wardest

How much meaning to we assign to words?

There are some “bad” words used in this post.
First, let me apologize for the inappropriate words used in this post. I do could not figure out how to imply a word without actually using the word and not have the whole thing just look stupid. This post is to raise questions about words, language and how we decide what meaning to assign what word. It is not to sling derogation terms or offend people. Even though, some of the words used will be offensive.

I have always held the position that words have meaning. This has been the topic of debate on other sites before… but I have not heard an argument to sway me the other way.

But how do we assign importance to the words rather they have meaning or not? I have been thinking about this for days. Some words are completely taboo and some are just “bad” words. Let’s look at slurs, derogative terms with insulting meanings to some group. What are the derogative slang for different ethnic groups? Some of these words are in somewhat common use and some not so much anymore.

I have recently noticed a stint of anti-Semite rhetoric being displayed by some prominent people. Yet I have not heard the derogative term for a Jew being used. That said, if I were to say the word Kike I would get much less opposition than if I were to use the word nigger. Or even chink or wetback, spick… the list goes on and on for derogative terms that have been slung at different ethnic groups over the years.

What about the word whore? In reference to a promiscuous female? Is that as bad as other words?
And how did the importance of these words get to where they are? What I mean is, why is it “SO” bad to use some words and not as bad or acceptable to use others that are clearly on the same level of being insulting or derogatory?

I do not ponder these questions because I want to make some kind of revival for bad language. In fact, I would prefer these words to not be used in polite society at all. And, I will be the first to admit that I have been upset and slung some of them around myself. Not because I’m racist or sexist or any other ‘ist but because my intent was to offend. We all have our moments we’re not proud of!

My ponderings brought me to question, are we sheeple following the crowd trying not to offend those that make the most noise? And if others complained or fought against word use would they not be just as taboo? Is it some kind of brain washing where we have let ourselves fear using words because of some kind of reprisal? Living in a country where freedom of speech is so protected and coveted, should we fear the use of a word? Should certain words be banned from polite society? And on and on…

In my opinion, words not only convey the meaning of the speaker, but also convey their state of mind at the time.

And another odd thought that crossed my mind, if there are words at one end of the spectrum that are so bad they shouldn’t be used, why is it there aren’t words at the other end of the spectrum that should be used less? Do we use Beautiful too often? Has it lost its intended meaning? Should we use pretty or handsome more instead?

I realize that language is fluid and ever changing. But should established words have their meaning or importance changed just to suit those that do not have enough of a grip on the language or should we create new words to better describe something and leave the existing ones alone? Why are some words so important that their meaning cannot evolve over time to be reinserted into common language if other words can be changed at a whim to suit the one using it even though the new use has nothing to do with the old meaning?

Questions, questions, questions… :P

PS, let’s try to keep this discussion civil ;)

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5 years 4 months ago #2709 by Serenity
( Pardon my French in advance )

Yeah i am really dissapointed with your last sentence :silly: haha no i am not , the thing is , words mean different things to different people , and as a Dutch person i can take offense to words that you dont take offense to , like Dude ,,,i dont like it when people use the word Dude , and when they find that out they keep calling me Dude , which is offensive , not because its a particularly nasty word but only and just because it does not mean to me what it means to them so they think they can use it ...harmless right ? No its not harmless , i dont have to toughen up so others can use the word Dude , its offensive to me , so dont call me Dude ... I dont ow anyone an explanation why i dont want to hear it used to refer to me , if you dont respect me , or my words , that is a sign as such ;) right? Well partly , its complicated , its a 2 way street ... and the key is respect , a black person who sees another black person as his equal can call him nigger , a friend who is dear to your heart can call you a right out Ho and you laugh your ass off , well , booty, behind , derriere ...language is a wonderful thing ....is not it? Well mostly it is hehe

Jesse Lee Alexander wrote an interesting piece on the subject , i dont agree with all of it , but that is not the point , words have power , great ancient power :)

Words are your key to programming your self Matrix
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5 years 4 months ago - 5 years 4 months ago #2710 by MadHatter
An interesting topic. I am going to try to break this down into a few key thoughts.

1) Offensive language and why we pander to outrage.
Well this is generally because I believe people want to be good and civil despite failing at it often. People do not want to hurt others and want to feel like they are helping. So that is an easy thing to latch on to and an easy talking point for what LeVay called a good guy badge. The reality is that people these days are increasingly decent ( crime has been going down for 20 plus years in every first world nation.) So we have less and less to complain about and the easier it is for the outrage to be manufactured instead of actual vile behavior having taken place. Worse some people have arisen who are so sure that they can bully the world into a utopia that they will use any and all means to do so even false statements and excusing abusive tactics against " the enemy "

2) What should we do about it? Well in my opinion Knightly behavior does not lend itself to stooping to degrading language. So there should be a personal ban on the practice. Which is a fancy way of saying we are adults and should be civil and polite about things including our language when engaging the general public.
However, that does not mean we will be perfect with it. Further, that does not mean we can't have in-jokes amongst friends. I mean the military-bred rough humor into me and I drop F-bombs in private convos like a punctuation mark. But there is a time and place for that sort of thing and we would all be better if that was taught early and often.
On the public scale, this mass shaming and ruining of lives or attempting to make particular words illegal is just vile and dangerous. The law is always backed by a gun. So unless it picks your pocket or breaks your leg it is not something worthy of justifying force against it. So hurt feelings should not land someone in front of the judge or in a set of cuffs. On the flip side, I hold little pity for an individual that chooses drop a hard R n-bomb to a black mans face intending offense if they get smacked in the mouth. Should that be legal eeeeeh dont get me started that is a whole different topic I think.

3) We need to grow a thicker skin as a whole. So many times people assume malice or disrespect rather than an unintended insult. Serenity I hope you do not mind my using you as an example here. But I use dude for well everyone. Never even knew that it could bother someone. If I hung out with you in person it would take me a bit of time to get used to not using that word in reference to you. So while I totally get that people should not use a term, word, name with a person that has asked them not to, I would also have to ask for some leeway to halt the use of a term I use almost reflexively. Thus I would have to ask for you to understand that you are going to hear a bit of " dude did you see that.... f**k sorry ". Until I get used to dropping that word when speaking with you. Hope that made sense

4) Overuse of words is an interesting one. I do think that we overuse words out of lazy language and wanting to play up our statements. I really have no idea how to handle that one. I dont think changing words is the way to go. The only thing I can think of is that on a personal level we should mind our langauge and be precise when we can.. Further we can instill that value in furture generations thus giving words power again where they got watered down.
Last edit: 5 years 4 months ago by MadHatter. Reason: grammar error spotted.
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5 years 4 months ago #2713 by Serenity
Know what you mean Hatter and i was refering to malicious intend and not force of habit i hope you see the difference. We use words to shape the people around us , apologizing and then still calling them what they dont want to be called is careless. People can call eachother pretty much anything with good intentions, its when a self righteous idea sets in that we mean well and other people should toughen up as you say that the spoken to start to question your intentions. I ask : What would you like to be called ?

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5 years 4 months ago #2717 by Serenity
I found this article on why we should choose our words wisely , i understand cultural differences and language barriers but putting these aside and presuming good intend, its still important that the need to communicate supersedes the need to be heard ;)

Why words hurt ...

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5 years 4 months ago #2736 by Acanthos
Colourful language? If one thinks about colour as hazard signalling, then perhaps red means imminent danger, green means risk of injury but good intentions, and blue means friendly, sorta thing.... then it allows energy and focus to be more effectively engineered through time and space, which enables more accurate engagement in successful interactions which of course allow a greater output/experience. People are complex though, so sometimes the waters are rather muddy. At the end of the day they are going to be somewhat representative of intention, and to me the difference between good language and bad language in this regard is how much they are engineered to obscure ones real intentions or truth, ie lie. Then its just a question of it its done appropriately for connection or inappropriately for attack - because some things are more private then others obviously!

極代 ~ per ardua ad astra
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