Monday, February 13, 2012

We Are What We (Don't) Say

Our language betrays us to each other. 

You can tell a lot about what is behind someone’s thoughts or actions based on their language.  Body language is the most obvious.  If I think that something hurling towards me is going to hit me, I will jump out of the way, or shield my face with my arms.  Nobody has to say “I think I’m going to move now so this object doesn’t impact my skull.”  There is no need, your body’s language gives away what you’re thinking.

I’m fascinated with “new” language.  We have new terminology just popping up all the time.  What this new language tells us about what we really think about ourselves is telling.  One of my personal favourites is “Socially Responsible Investing”.  What does this say about all the other ways we invest?  How about “Sustainable Growth”.  As compared to what?  “Environmentally Sensitive Building Practices”.    Here’s a good one:  “Non Genetically Modified”.  That last one is food.  A church one:  “Welcoming Congregation”. 

Wrapped in our language are the mirror images of the words we use.  As we race to rescind the errors of our ways, our language can tell us a lot about what we knew and refused to look at – or maybe when we still choose convenience over total impact.

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