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Thread: Could the misuse of langauge be the fall of civilisation?

  1. #26
    Launchin' Nukes at Noobs Contributor palerider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phedrereine View Post
    Oh, if only the misuse of language was all we had to worry about in human relations... We have a host of other problems, though, not the least of which is a virulent tendency towards stereotyping and unhealthy nationalism/tribalism. Those things, I think, more than any others, often contribute to the misuse of words and the misunderstanding of them.
    Yeah I will concede finally to the element of politics....the will of one human competing against another until some common meaning is found...or not....of which there are different possible outcomes.

    But already we run into difficulties.....are you saying that this is language or communication or some other label? Surely language only conveys what a tribe or a community believes or idealises?? Does belief/idea choose the language or does language limit us in our meaning?
    "Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the Universe." -Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

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    Little Bird of Prey phedrereine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by palerider View Post
    Yeah I will concede finally to the element of politics....the will of one human competing against another until some common meaning is found...or not....of which there are different possible outcomes.

    But already we run into difficulties.....are you saying that this is language or communication or some other label? Surely language only conveys what a tribe or a community believes or idealises?? Does belief/idea choose the language or does language limit us in our meaning?
    I think they bolster each other, but at the end of the day I think it's usually innate belief and human nature that is the root cause of how we convey things and how we interpret them. Language is powerful, but people will purposely misunderstand the clearest, most effective explanations simply because they are so fixed in what they want to believe. And so it's not the words, but rather the mind set of that person that is the ultimate power. And sometimes you can understand something, or feel it deeply, but words are inadequate... And so you may not say it right, but your mannerisms and your actions communicate much more to the other person and will actually be more accurate and make the biggest impact. It's like our thoughts and feelings can shine through all on their own, more than words ever can, and they are the driving force. It's hard for me to admit that, because I always hope to explain myself precisely using just words, but I have to admit that there are so many experiences that language just can't quite capture.
    "But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean."

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    Launchin' Nukes at Noobs Contributor palerider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phedrereine View Post
    I think they bolster each other, but at the end of the day I think it's usually innate belief and human nature that is the root cause of how we convey things and how we interpret them. Language is powerful, but people will purposely misunderstand the clearest, most effective explanations simply because they are so fixed in what they want to believe. And so it's not the words, but rather the mind set of that person that is the ultimate power. And sometimes you can understand something, or feel it deeply, but words are inadequate... And so you may not say it right, but your mannerisms and your actions communicate much more to the other person and will actually be more accurate and make the biggest impact. It's like our thoughts and feelings can shine through all on their own, more than words ever can, and they are the driving force. It's hard for me to admit that, because I always hope to explain myself precisely using just words, but I have to admit that there are so many experiences that language just can't quite capture.
    Yes absolutely....I think belief in something is a powerful motivator for ignoring matters of fact or indeed objectivity itself. I think you explained well....and had the patience to articulate it :O)

    My biggest worry is always that our politicians the world over manage to whitewash issues of the day with a language that bypasses any answers at all.....and worse that the public fail to grasp that....but I suppose that moves us away from language into another world.
    "Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the Universe." -Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

  4. #29
    ### of all Things Nuclear Ningishiddza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by palerider View Post
    My biggest worry is always that our politicians the world over manage to whitewash issues of the day with a language that bypasses any answers at all.....and worse that the public fail to grasp that....but I suppose that moves us away from language into another world.
    Your premise is incorrect, but you could claim that the misuse of language leads to enslavement and other abuses.

    The German language is incredibly precise -- a word means this, and nothing else -- ever. Yet the National Socialists were able to employ propaganda on a wide scale.

    English is totally lacking in any precision. Worse than that, it is easily corruptible, subject to double intendre and rapid changes in meaning from one generation to the next, yet we don't really have anything comparable to the actions of the National Socialists in Germany.

    I'm not sure why that it. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Germans are a Nation and that Germany was (and still is) a nation-State -- extremely homogenous, while Americans are not a Nation and the US was never a nation-State no -- the US was always a country -- extremely heterogeneous.

    English is very susceptible to obfuscating euphemisms like WMD - "Weapons of Mass Destruction" -- an incredibly vague and ambiguous term without substance that means absolutely nothing, and even that wouldn't be so bad, except that it's open to wide-spread interpretation.

    I don't know. Maybe your premise would be correct, if such abuses led to an international conflict on a global scale, or perhaps the use of nuclear weapons solely to induce electromagnetic pulse (although that would only affect 1st World States -- to a much lesser extent 2nd World States and only a negligible effect on 3rd World States). Maybe not lead to the fall of civilization, rather lead to an extreme level of destruction.
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  5. #30
    Launchin' Nukes at Noobs Contributor palerider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ningishiddza View Post
    Your premise is incorrect, but you could claim that the misuse of language leads to enslavement and other abuses.

    The German language is incredibly precise -- a word means this, and nothing else -- ever. Yet the National Socialists were able to employ propaganda on a wide scale.

    English is totally lacking in any precision. Worse than that, it is easily corruptible, subject to double intendre and rapid changes in meaning from one generation to the next, yet we don't really have anything comparable to the actions of the National Socialists in Germany.

    I'm not sure why that it. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Germans are a Nation and that Germany was (and still is) a nation-State -- extremely homogenous, while Americans are not a Nation and the US was never a nation-State no -- the US was always a country -- extremely heterogeneous.

    English is very susceptible to obfuscating euphemisms like WMD - "Weapons of Mass Destruction" -- an incredibly vague and ambiguous term without substance that means absolutely nothing, and even that wouldn't be so bad, except that it's open to wide-spread interpretation.

    I don't know. Maybe your premise would be correct, if such abuses led to an international conflict on a global scale, or perhaps the use of nuclear weapons solely to induce electromagnetic pulse (although that would only affect 1st World States -- to a much lesser extent 2nd World States and only a negligible effect on 3rd World States). Maybe not lead to the fall of civilization, rather lead to an extreme level of destruction.

    Yes I take your points Ning...useful stuff to consider. Not sure I was formulating a formal premise/conclusion....more a matter of personal discernment...should have made that clear.

    I'm not in agreement with the idea that the term WMD is absolutely meaningless (used as an example). I would agree that a WMD containing VZ (nerve agent) might not commit to the term 'mass' in the same way as current nuclear warhead would (as VZ would be more dependant on mode of dispersal than a nuclear weapon).....ok I know I'm splitting hairs.....but words do have some reference to a 'thing'. ....the interpretation of which all depends on the person interpretating it.....oh dear I can see this is going to get complicated....

    The end result whatever the indifferences has a potential to be destructive.....yes granted the logical possibilities are dependent on the conditions.
    "Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the Universe." -Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

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    Iam puppy, hear me yap. Contributor lycanox's Avatar
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    Well there is always the famous Von Bismarck telegram that baited the French into a war. Which in turn lead to the unification of Germany. Which in turn lead to 2 world wars.
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    Launchin' Nukes at Noobs Contributor palerider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lycanox View Post
    Well there is always the famous Von Bismarck telegram that baited the French into a war. Which in turn lead to the unification of Germany. Which in turn lead to 2 world wars.
    Ah yes of course forgot about that :O)
    "Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the Universe." -Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

  8. #33
    Survivalist! Traveler's Avatar
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    Yes the misuse of language in modern times is proving destructive.

    The progressive powers only incurred a select amount of collateral damage in their operations to prevent the spread of WMD by the terrorist state

    It makes this action sound so clinically clean and positive but the real translation in real english is;

    The Liberals and neopagan forces solved the problem of the Mormons defending the second amendment by blowing up the entire state of Utah while the tea party was having its annual convention there. In one fell swoop the oath keepers and Christians and leadership of the Republicans were all killed along with the rest of the local population. Problem solved. Wiccans rule!
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    Survivalist! Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phedrereine View Post
    Oh, if only the misuse of language was all we had to worry about in human relations... We have a host of other problems, though, not the least of which is a virulent tendency towards stereotyping and unhealthy nationalism/tribalism. Those things, I think, more than any others, often contribute to the misuse of words and the misunderstanding of them.
    Oh you anti-stereotypists are all the same, if only you were an American, born in Michigan of french and italian descent, then you'd understand that the cromulent purtussion of grandtuity cannot be agmatated!
    "The problem with the world is the intelligent are full of doubts while the stupid are full of confidence." - Bukowski

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    Survivalist! Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Yes the misuse of language in modern times is proving destructive.

    The progressive powers only incurred a select amount of collateral damage in their operations to prevent the spread of WMD by the terrorist state

    It makes this action sound so clinically clean and positive but the real translation in real english is;

    The Liberals and neopagan forces solved the problem of the Mormons defending the second amendment by blowing up the entire state of Utah while the tea party was having its annual convention there. In one fell swoop the oath keepers and Christians and leadership of the Republicans were all killed along with the rest of the local population. Problem solved. Wiccans rule!
    Thank you for illustrating an important point. Damage from language is directly proportional to the stupidity of the people who are interpreting the words. Traveler has found a connection to christians and mormons in a paragraph where no actual referrence is made or implied. So the language is innocent, and the stupidity is guilty.
    Problem detected... christians drool!
    "The problem with the world is the intelligent are full of doubts while the stupid are full of confidence." - Bukowski

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    Little Bird of Prey phedrereine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by palerider View Post
    Yes absolutely....I think belief in something is a powerful motivator for ignoring matters of fact or indeed objectivity itself. I think you explained well....and had the patience to articulate it :O)

    My biggest worry is always that our politicians the world over manage to whitewash issues of the day with a language that bypasses any answers at all.....and worse that the public fail to grasp that....but I suppose that moves us away from language into another world.
    Yes, that's true, and I suppose that world encompasses "manipulation" through obfuscation. There may be plenty of people in a population who are open to the truth and objectivity, but as you say the politician does everything they can to confuse or hide the cold hard truth. I think that even then it is a situation that can eventually right itself, however, because people who have strong beliefs that go against the political lies or half-truths, will do whatever they can to counter them and bring the truth to light. But it's true a politician can cause significant damage for a certain amount of time. It's definitely true that such slippery words can add fuel to the fire of those who fall in line with what that politician is dealing out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Oh you anti-stereotypists are all the same, if only you were an American, born in Michigan of french and italian descent, then you'd understand that the cromulent purtussion of grandtuity cannot be agmatated!
    I'm sure I have no clue what you're saying here... More than one of the words you used in that last clause does not exist in the English language... So I'm at a total loss there...
    "But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean."

  12. #37
    Survivalist! Bob's Avatar
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    actually 4 of those word are totally fabricated by me( cromulant courtesey of The Simpsons), my point is if prostitution is the worlds 2nd oldest profession then lying preachers and politicans are the first. Believe half of what they tell you and even less of what they show you.
    "The problem with the world is the intelligent are full of doubts while the stupid are full of confidence." - Bukowski

  13. #38
    Launchin' Nukes at Noobs Contributor palerider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    actually 4 of those word are totally fabricated by me( cromulant courtesey of The Simpsons), my point is if prostitution is the worlds 2nd oldest profession then lying preachers and politicans are the first. Believe half of what they tell you and even less of what they show you.
    I thought it was a good example of mis-using or perhaps abusing language. Of course you're foiled if your opponent knows their dictionary or has the common sense to check it out...:O), not forgetting the attempt at humour which for me did work and no disrespect to Phedrereine who also raises a rather more useful point in terms of the committment that some people have in belief...no matter how poisoned their words may be......
    "Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the Universe." -Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

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