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HannaH Jane

Professor, I think we have two problems at work here.

1) People who are bullies, who believe that if a person does not agree with their viewpoints, it gives them the right to result to childish name calling.

2) People who believe that words don't really matter that much...and this group is actually the one that scares me the most because of the power that their words really do have.

I'm rereading "Metaphors We Live By" (Lakoff & Johnson). It's a linguistic book I got in college. These two linguist propose that not only are words powerful but that they actually profoundly effect how we perceive the world around us - especially when we are referring to abstract concepts. When we talk about love, we have to frame it in terms of something more concrete. For example, take the notion "Love is fire". We can see this at work in our normal language. "I'm consumed by him.", "She's hot.", "My heart burns for you." (even though that last one is a little hokey). Of course there are many, many concepts in our culture that are defined in terms of something more physical or concrete. The funny thing is that we ACT like love is fire. We try to get close the one we love, but not too close, or we'll "get burned". So we do this little dance with each other trying to get close enough for comfort but not close enough to get hurt.

My point is - language IS powerful, and it DOES matter what we say because we are constantly adding to the discourse and culture with our language.

I wish more people considered what they say before opening their mouths. Bullying and belittling is never okay or acceptable. Period. I'm glad that these folks are bringing this to attention. We need more of that. Recognition that there is a problem is the first step to solving it.



You are so correct that words and language have power and we have to take some accountability in how we use those words and power. Whether it is homophobic, sexist or racial slurs or even attempting to co opt terms like the N word we have to recognize the power and intent behind their use. Thank you for adding some significant points of discussion on this topic.

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