Language

For humans, language is the entrance to the symbolic order. Through the „mother tongue” children learn the names of things that surround them. Since children usually rely on their mothers, fathers, and other trusted figures, language is learned in relation to them and as part of the relationship with them. Being able to speak or sign is the precondition of being able to negotiate one’s own wishes.

There is a strong inherent force in language, sometimes not well observed by adults. While living in the world, they adapt their language and use of language to the reigning conventions. Pausing for thought and thinking about seemingly everyday words can give impetus for new ways of thinking.

For instance, we could rethink terms like: welfare recipient, job holder, unemployed person. Since we all depend on the welfare of others, what is the sense of applying these words only to a certain group of people? If we talk about a „welfare taker” instead of „recipient”—would that change our way of thinking about the person we are addressing? This „taking” as a part of the term could illustrate that accepting a gift is an equally active part of the transaction. The word „receiving”, however, conjures an image of being given alms, suggesting passivity. Another example: in everyday language work also involves „taking on a job” and not receiving one. And what exactly is the person we call „unemployed” lacking? Is it work in the sense of activity? Or is it just the income that is missing? In thinking about notions and words and by introducing new and self-made ones, we can slowly influence how we speak about the world and ultimately, influence the world itself.

Our language has a crucial influence on the way we see the world and ourselves. If we start to bring new, different words into the world (not all at once, but slowly, hardly noticeable in the beginning), we will change our and others’ perceptions. The words do not need to be completely new, new interpretations of already existing words can be equally interesting.

Learning other, so-called „foreign languages,” can be of great help. These languages have other words expressing different ways of thinking. Being attentive to this can provide ideas for one’s own use of language.

This ABC is, as a whole, an attempt to think about well-known words in a different way and find new words. These words and their new meanings will only become commonly used as the result of a different practice of speaking. Over time, thinking will change. And the world itself. 

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