Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Commie Pinko Nazi Fascist Scum!

Well, this will get us a few hits. Apologies to any who came here because of the title. This post is really about emotionally charged language. This is the sort of language that causes the reader to stop thinking and begin feeling. Certain words have such emotional baggage attached to them that the use of them generates an immediate emotional response on the part of the reader. The rational mind takes a back seat and the emotions take over. The net effect is that discourse becomes impossible and the conversation is most emphatically finished.

There are any number of reasons for the use of emotionally charged language. Perhaps the most obvious is in politics where characterizing your opponents in a derogatory way is quite common. Another is the use of inclusive language in certain situations. Both propaganda and advertising make liberal use of emotionally charged language to manipulate readers.In some cases the use of emotionally charged language makes any debate on the subject impossible as we have seen in the recent Commons debate on the definition of life.

Unfortunately this tendency to invest words with emotional significance makes them unsuitable for use in normal conversation. C.S. Lewis made a point about the transformation of the word "christian" from a noun to an adjective meaning "nice". It makes the word unsuitable for its original purpose which was identifying the followers of a certain Galilean preacher in Antioch. There are any number of words that are in danger of such transformation, many of which have appeared in this blog. Perhaps greater care in the use of language might help resist this unfortunate trend.

No comments: