Our Language Defines Us … or does it?


How many times have you heard it said that our language defines us. First it was anthropology courses, as the idea of communication emerged. If you were like me, you wondered why you never heard it in English and writing classes, and then slowly, over late night deep soul discussions with a side of imbibeables, realized it so totally did.

Then it was in leadership courses and coaching sessions, and in at least half of the business articles you reach about emotional intelligence and communication skills.

Over and over and over again, HOW to communicate, when no one is doing it anyway. We’re focusing entirely on HOW we say something and end up not saying it at all.

Writers are always told to write as you speak. But when we’re told how to speak, we lose our voice.

Enter the anti-politically correct movement.
Wait, no. No. That’s not right.

Our language, as it turns out, does NOT define us.
If it did, politically correct language would have worked.

It was a Hot Summer Night ….

On a sticky, sweaty August night in New Orleans in 1988, the era of true political correctness was ushered in during the Republican National Convention, when George H. Bush uttered the phrase:

I want a kinder, gentler nation.

Truth be told, political correctness had been around for a long time, as parents told their kids not to stare at the person in the wheel chair, taught not to call people stupid, ugly, or fat. In the 70s we had All in the Family to point out how stupid the inner biases and thoughts appeared to others, so the concept was out there. But it took a different importance then.

Politcal Correctness is defined by Merriam Webster as follows:

conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated
political correctness {noun}

Not using the premise of political correctness to define it, it means not saying racist, bigoted, assinine, nasty comments that show your inner soul and hatred.

So by the idea that language defines us, one would then reach the conclusion that after so long in our lexicon, that the language of kindness, equality, and political correctness would have, at least, by now, defined us, and changed us.

It hasn’t. As we can all see now.

It only makes it less obvious, more difficult to prove and call out.

It didn’t stop the bigotry, racism, or hate.

It just hid it.

Removing the requirement in civilization is ugly, but honest, in that we can now truly see people for their beliefs.
It’s not pretty. And it’s confusing, as those who throw the first stones cry when hit.

Hate wasn’t an outcome of political correctness, neither was divisiveness.

Integrity and respect define us more than our words do.


About Laurissa Doonan

I'm a marketer. I've been a professional marketer for over 25 years, but in reality, I have always been one. Marketing to me is about communicating effectively, regardless of platform, regardless of channel. Marketing is understanding both your objectives and your audience, and finding the right method and message for your customers to reach them where they are. Now I dedicate my efforts to helping very small and small companies pursue their passions and grow their businesses through marketing; providing agency trained expertise without the overhead. www.Charter-Marketing.com www.CharterMarketing.wordpress.com
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