Language as a regulator of the social

As Nietzsche said: “There’s nothing less innocent than words, the deadliest guns that can exist“.

The philosopher did not try to make us imagine a scene in which the use of certain linguistic signs triggers an outright drama (which is why we already have many serials as an example). Rather, he was referring in more generic terms to the global repercussions that a certain use of language can have, beyond the pure transmission of information between coolly analytical and perfectly coordinated minds. If we add to this prescientific intuition certain conclusions which have been drawn from the psycholinguistics, We obtain a principle for our social relations: a linguistic sign is not a packet of information, ready to be analyzed coldly, that someone sends us … but a perceptual unit which produces in us patterns of action, reasoning or language, whether we like it or not.

For this reason, as much as the language can seem to claim neutrality as a code understandable and assimilable by all, the meaning of all the signs of which it is composed is subject to a continuous consent. A consensus which, like any form of negotiation between agents, is entirely shaped by the subjectivity, experience and expectations of each of them. Neutrality is evident in his absence.

Words make possible the emergence of culturally consensual concepts, and from these meanings derive, in relation to the context, values ​​which are ultimately those which accompany our behavior, both individually and collectively. As an example, I will save some personal experiences.

The liberal language in the United Kingdom

During one of my stays at London, I have seen how the use of language that is styled there (and I am not talking about language, but about the way to agree on meanings forming typical expressions) is full of connotations linked to the liberal thinking. This ideology is characterized by the importance of the individual as opposed to the limits imposed by the social fabric. It must be remembered that Margaret Thatcher said at 1:00 am on several occasions that society does not exist, that only the individual exists separately. These are therefore symptoms of the privacy of life in general., Consumption, the business world and its unilaterally sought-after profits, etc.

As for placing the emphasis on the individual above the social – or even arguing that society does not exist, as Thatcher argued – it can be seen in that, in the UK, When questions are asked about the causes or explanation of certain events, the question that opens the curtain of debate is always: does it depend on the individual or is it a matter of luck? (It depends on the individual or it is a matter of luck), ignoring that the origin may be due to something of a structural nature which transcends the individual (remember, there, society does not exist ).

Another example in which we can observe how strongly liberal ideology is rooted in English society is with the typical expression it’s not your business, Which is used to express “it is not your problem”, but what would literally translate as “it is not your business”. This expression suggests an explicit parallel between the business world – or the world of economic activity by extension – and the thread that gives coherence to one’s life. But what is more, the fact that the company is his own, indicates an underestimation of the idea that the foreigner, an uninteresting concept from a point of view where the company as such does not exist, but there are only a few individuals with their own interests and no common interests that support them beyond the collective protection of property. In that sense, it’s funny, for example, how the verb “to share”, which could mean “to share something because there is something in common”, is to share, which are the actions of a company. In other words, even the act of sharing loses here a social connotation and is again framed in the field of business and economic profitability.

As for consumption, I found the phrase “obsolete” particularly curious, which means “outdated” but also “outdated”. Any consumer society is interested in promoting the world of fashion because it is a transcendent tool to be able to produce and generate great profits by constantly renewing articles and creating the need for permanent consumption. That’s why it’s important to say that something is trending as something inherently positive. When a shirt purchased in 2011 ceases to be valid for the fashion world, it means that it has expired and therefore needs to be renewed, that is, a wide variety of products must be constantly consumed. under an imperative that practically refers to the field of health. This idea, of course, brings huge benefits to large companies.

Right right; left left

Finally, I would like to cite a very obvious example, but perhaps the most enlightening, and which would perhaps better summarize the central idea of ​​this article. word law. On the one hand, it means “right” and on the other “right”. The truth is that when we use this word in politics we are referring to the political or ideological (neo) liberal or Thatcherian position, the worldview that reads the excellences of the free market in the economy and conservatism in the social, indicating how the path naturally given to man for his own progress.

However, before thinking that this polysemy may have something to do with a certain legitimacy of privatizations and adjustments understood in this case as the right way, we must not forget that this link between “right” and “right” does not is that of form: the same word, but perhaps not the same meaning. It should not be forgotten either that historically certain political positions are said to be “right” because of a very particular historical reality (the disposition of conservative deputies to the National Constituent Assembly during the French Revolution).

However, the meaning of words, when negotiated, is not fixed. Precisely because of this, paradoxically, this continuous negotiation of meanings can make possible a dynamic of maintaining meaning despite the changing circumstances. This polysemous relationship between the two “rights” can be reinforced by a long tradition of associating positive properties with the concept of law, common to many cultures and, to a certain extent, all-terrain. Think, for example, of the idea of ​​being good at something, or the phrase “get up with your left foot”. Both seem to refer to the better disposition to doing things with the right side of the body that most people have. Likewise, in Arab culture, the left hand is considered unclean. It is all part of a dimension which, although taking shape in language, transcends language itself and affects us unconsciously.

Of course, neither more nor less innocent than words.

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