Language as a regulator of the social
As Nietzsche said: "There is nothing less innocent than words, the deadliest weapons that can exist ”.
The philosopher did not try to make us imagine a scene in which the use of certain linguistic signs triggers purely and simply drama (for that we already have as an example many soap operas). Rather, he referred in more generic terms to the global repercussions that a certain use of language can have, beyond the pure transmission of information between coldly analytical and perfectly coordinated minds. If we add to this pre-scientific intuition certain conclusions that have been drawn from the psycholinguistics , we obtain a principle for our social relations: a linguistic sign is not a package of information, ready to be analyzed coldly, that someone sends us ... but a perceptive unit that produces in us action, reasoning or language schemes, whether we want it or not .
Hence, as much as the language can pretend to have neutrality pretensions as a comprehensible and assimilable code for all, the meaning of all the signs of which it is composed is subject to a continuous consensus . Consensus that, like any form of negotiation between agents, is completely shaped by the subjectivity, experience and expectations of each of these. Neutrality is conspicuous by its absence.
The words allow the appearance of culturally consensual concepts, and from these meanings derive, in relation to the context, values that are finally those that accompany our behaviors, both individually and collectively. As an example, I will rescue some personal experiences.
The liberal language in the United Kingdom
During one of my stays in London , I noticed how the use of the language that is used there (and I do not mean the language, but in the way of agreeing meanings forming typical expressions) is full of connotations linked to liberal thought. This ideology is characterized by the importance of the individual as opposed to the limits imposed by the social fabric. It is necessary to remember that Margaret Thatcher asserted multiple times that society does not exist, that only the individual exists separately. They are symptoms, then, of the private character of life in general , of consumption, of the business world and its benefits sought unilaterally, etcetera.
Regarding the fact of highlighting the individual over the social - or even argue that society does not exist, as Thatcher said - you can perceive that, in the United Kingdom, when you ask the causes or the explanation of some event, the question that opens the curtain of the debate is always: It depends on the individual or is it a question of luck? (depends on the individual or is a matter of luck), obviating that the origin may be due to something structural nature that transcends the individual (remember, there society does not exist).
Another example in which we can observe how liberal ideology is strongly rooted in English society is with the typical expression is none of your business , which is used to express "is not your problem", but which literally translated would be "is not your business". This expression suggests an explicit parallel between the world of business -or the world of economic activity by extension- and the thread that gives coherence to life itself. But it is more, the fact of stressing that the business is its own, indicates a devaluation of the idea that alien, concept not interesting from a point of view in which society as such does not exist, but there are only individuals with interests own and without interests in common that the vertebre beyond the collective protection of the property. In this sense it is comical, for example, how the verb "share", which could indicate "share something because there is something in common", is share, which are the actions of a company. That is to say, that even the action of sharing here loses a social connotation and is framed again within the scope of business and economic profitability.
As regards consumption, I found the phrase made out of date, which means "outdated" but also "outdated" particularly curious. A consumer society is interested in promoting the world of fashion because it is a transcendental tool to produce and generate great benefits by constantly renewing the articles and creating the need for permanent consumption. That is why it is important to say that something is fashionable as something intrinsically positive.When a shirt bought in 2011 ceases to be valid for the world of fashion, that means that it is outdated and that, therefore, it has to be renewed, that is, a large variety of products must be constantly consumed under an imperative that it practically refers to the field of health. This idea, of course, brings huge profits to large companies.
The right right; the left sinister
Finally, I would like to cite a very obvious example, but perhaps the most clarifying, and that possibly summarizes better the central idea of this article. The word right . On the one hand it means "correct", and on the other hand "right". The truth is that when we use this word in politics, we refer to the political or ideological position (neo) liberal or thatcheriana, the worldview that praises the excellence of the free market in the economic and conservatism in the social, indicating it as the path naturally given to man for his own progress.
However, before thinking that this polysemy may have something to do with some legitimization of the privatizations and adjustments understood in this case as the correct route, it must not be forgotten that this link between "right" and "correct" is only in As for the form: the same word, but perhaps not the same meaning. Nor should we forget that historically certain political positions have been called "right" because of a very specific historical reality (the disposition of the Conservative deputies in the National Constituent Assembly during the French Revolution).
However, the meaning of the words, when negotiated, is not fixed. Precisely for that, paradoxically, this continuous negotiation of meanings can make possible a dynamic of maintenance of the meaning despite the changing circumstances. This polysemic relationship between both "rights" can be reinforced by a long tradition of associating positive properties with the right concept, common to many cultures and, to some extent, off-road. Think, for example, of the idea of being right-handed in something, or of the expression "getting up with the left foot". Both seem to refer to the best disposition to do things with the right side of the body that most people have. Similarly, in Arab culture the left hand is considered impure. All this is part of a dimension that, despite taking shape in the language, transcends the language itself and affects us subconsciously.
Of course, nothing less innocent than words .