"The Language War" by Robin Tolmach Lakoff LO25073

From: John Zavacki (systhinc@msn.com)
Date: 07/17/00

Replying to LO25070 --

Ray Harrell asks:

> Timely yes and could you explain how this operates in a
> practical social
> situation at the office? I've consigned this post to my LO folder as
> being useful conceptually but would be interested in the way
> that you use
> the information practically.

Although we can't see the kinesic context of the messages on the list (I'd
love to sit in a circle with this group, watching faces and body language
as one of our complex threads unfold) it is a reminder to all of us that
language is not always what it says. Words and phrases used to punctuate
meaning ("My dear Ray", "my distinguished colleague", "as you have so
elegantly stated", " as you are surely aware", etc. etc. etc.) point to
motivations other than teaching and learning, they "mark" the writers'
full content as being truer, purer, more authentic, by means of suggesting
alliance, friendship, etc.

In the same way that some of the subjects of Robin's studies defend their
"politically incorrect" language, we often defend our own stance here on
the list my marking our sentences with the scent of authority (albeit
sometimes coming from the bottle of "Uncle Joe's Famous Fox Urine Scent"
rather than the experience of successful experiental applications). The
lesson in it, at least for me, is to listen carefully to all of the words,
not just the formulae and mantras, and in particular, the words we tend to
process as saluational or peripheral to content. They are the closest
thing to wholistic lingustic context (the mind-body externalities which
operate together both consciously and un- to give a broader mean than the
words in the solitary context of the computer screen).

John F. Zavacki


"John Zavacki" <systhinc@msn.com>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.