The Hypnosis of Language

mandellaonlanguage

Language itself is one of the greatest foundations of society. The structure of society often reflects the structure of the language and syntax. Foucault argues that sociologically, language determines how society forms itself based on the chosen words a legal or political system uses to communicate with the general populous. Lukaszewski argues that positive words gets better results than negative ones – or at least faster and lasting results. Hogan did a lecture on how using certain phrases causes others to believe you perceive their ideas as important, and thus the language communication is more effective in getting what you want.

Various scientists have analysed the theories, and over the last decade or two, diverse results can be seen. Many of us limit our perception of societies and cultures to politics and law, but to go one step deeper, the basis for everything is what humans have in common – language. Whether it be English, Chinese, French, German, or even body language and sign language, each system has a structure, and that is: how the ideas are communicated through words.

It is arguable that many people read body language more than words, but people respond to words more than body language. However, systems are created based on language structure. Generally speaking, English is a diverse language – it is split into formal and colloquial, British and American, conversational and technological. (Refer to my 2013 article on The Evolution of The English Language for a brief breakdown). American English uses active voice and heavy diction, therefore the American culture is perceived to be more assertive and aggressive when communicating. British English uses passive voice and is heavily derived from Classic English Literature, and the culture is thusly more reserved and private. The Chinese language, in terms of writing, is based on stroke order, prefixes, and suffixes. When a child, at the age of three, learns to write his or her name in Chinese, he or she first learns stroke order. The brain slowly conditions itself to memorise structure and order, combined with breaking down the characters and reconstructing a new word. The Chinese education system, therefore, stresses memorisation and breakdown-construct. French is a philosophical and artistic language, and the culture is quite aesthetic and philosophical in their thinking. German language is structured and complex, hence historical Germany were militarily strong.

One thing every language has in common though, is positive versus negative. Human nature is defiant and rebellious: we are innately programmed to do what we shouldn’t do. Schools create rebels because they often say “Don’t do this” or “don’t do that” instead of “If you do this, a consequence will happen”. When communicating with children and youth, telling them not to eat junk food will make them want to eat junk food. However, if a young child is told that vegetables are junk, and McDonald’s is healthy, the child will naturally opt for vegetables after a period of time. Legal language has succeed in this area for the phrasing itself is as simple as “if you commit this crime, you will serve this maximum punishment”. It offers people a choice, not an absolute. Humans need choices because people want recognition: recognition for making a good choice rather than just robotically doing as told (Fukuyama).

When communicating, it is suggested that we use relate words so as to maximize the greatest outcome for both sides, primarily ourselves. If children hate homework, call it a “mission”, “task”, or “project”. They will feel a sense of accomplishment. If teenagers believe that rules are made to be broken, give them “guidelines” and “suggestions”. If you want someone to help you, ask for it, don’t demand it. If you want to persuade someone, simply say “don’t  you think this would be a good idea?” instead of “I think this is a good idea”. People care more about what they think than what you think, so make them believe that it was their idea.

In sum, language is a large basis for the way our world works, and if used correctly, we can maximise the greatest outcomes for ourselves.

Thinking it is nothing, knowing it is something, and doing it is everything.

Mikavelli

References:
1. Foucault – The Archeology of Knowledge
2. Bacal – Using Positive Language
3. Lukaszewski – The Strategic Power of Positive Language
4. Mikavelli – The Evolution of The English Language

Symbols of Perspective

perception

Perspective is everything, and we are taught to interpret symbols in images as well as words. When you see a blue box with an “F”, we associate it with Facebook. A large green “M” represents a can of Monster. But symbols are not just images, they are also words. When you hear the word “success”, you automatically think money, grades, and suits before we think happiness and long-term progress. When we hear “work”, we think of tedious, endless tasks of working for long hours with bare minimum appreciation instead of the long-term outcome of “no pain no gain”.

But what if everything were as simple as a syntactic reversal to naturally, not conditionally, achieve results?

When someone says “I was thinking of doing this,” we automatically assume they mean they’ve changed their mind now. When they say “I am thinking about doing this,” we interpret it as they haven’t done it yet.

People have associations with words – both positive and negative. Children don’t like homework, but they like missions, adventures, and projects. We can condition them to work, but that takes effort on both parties. Teenagers don’t like rules, but they respond more positively to suggestions and guidelines as they feel they have a choice. Adults don’t like work, but what if work were called “time killers”, “money makers”, or “a level in a game”?

When you’re young, you rely on what you are told. When you become an adult, you make your own choices based on what you’re taught versus what you’ve experienced. If you want someone to respond positively to use, find words they associate positively. Negative words result in negative results, positive words have positive outcomes. If you want to get what you want, communicate in the syntax they use – speaking to children means using “kid-words”, speaking to teenagers means making analogies with music and movies they like. When communicating with academics, they will automatically respect you more when you use good vocabulary and good grammar. When communicating with the general populous, use simple and concise words.

We are taught to exert a certain level of respect so that others will respect us, but the truest form of respect is when we are willing to choose words according to their responses. Fearful people respond to intimidation; fighters respond to perceived victory.

Often, we become frustrated and angry that people “just don’t listen”, but it’s usually because they’ve heard a word they associate negatively. When someone is told to “wake up earlier”, they see that as a constraint on their freedom. Rather, say “if you wake up early you could get more done” comes across as a suggestion rather than a demand. When someone is told to “go to sleep early”, they associate it with “punishments” because in our childhoods, “staying up late” was perceived as a luxury, a reward.

When you offer people choices and positive associations, they will personally feel that they have made good choices. This builds their confidence and self-respect, which in turns builds their respect for you. People who respect themselves will respect others – but it is not up to us to decide whether or not the person is respectful simply based on appearance. Most of the time, people appear to be disrespectful simply because they haven’t learned to communicate.

Let people hear what you want to say by saying it in ways they will listen.

~Mikavelli~

Colonialism in The Mask of Globalisation

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In this era, colonialism is understood as a historical paradigm, almost non-existent today. Or is it?

By definition, colonialism is the the increase, imposition and support of one country (predominantly Western – in history) that influences culture and language. Globalisation, however, is defined as having the spread and assimilation of combined cultures and languages. By these definitions, colonialism may not be seen in principle, but if one culture has leverage and advantage over another – measured by scales which are understood by the modern world, such as economic power, military strength and academic advancement – does this entail an underlying essence of colonialism?

One example would be that of Hong Kong, a former British colony, handed over to China in 1997. Near the end of the twentieth century, many foreigners still remained in Hong Kong, which evidentially influenced the city’s international relations as well as English (language) education. In this globalised era and society, English is undoubtedly a vital language to learn, but the method of enforcing its education in Hong Kong can – and in many ways, has – lead to the following social and psychological dilemma.

The method of teaching often requires students to use only English during NET (Native English Teacher) lessons, and students (or even teachers) are penalized for speaking Chinese during these classes. Though immersion is necessary when learning a second language, this is only effective if the student is immersed for at least a few hours a day, every day of the week. However, granted that in local Chinese schools NETs are floaters with no fixed class, students don’t experience the immersion necessary to bring their English to a standard demanded by parents and required by companies.

The mentality and methodology provokes the following predicament: having no Chinese (or their mother tongue) in the classroom psychologically eradicates students’ sense of identity as their feel that during those lessons, their own native language is inferior.

This underlying psychological embellishment results in the following:

  1. Kids, especially young learners, form the impression that NETs feel their own language – English – is more important than the students’
  2.  This ideology is supported by the majority of Hong Kong parents  who push and drill their kids to learn English fluently, which gives children the impression that everyone believes the English language is more important
  3. This impression then carries into adulthood: the formation of society and continuation of “traditional values”
  4. As follows, parents of forthcoming generations will perpetuate this mentality
  5. The example is evidenced by learning centres and educational companies in Hong Kong that refuse to include or use Chinese in their notes as parents believe it looks “cheap” and “tarnishes the companies’ reputation.” Bilingual textbooks – which is more productive for young learners and those with a weaker English background – are sold at a much lower cost, sometimes up to ten times less than English-only textbooks

Thus, is it necessary for students under the age of ten – without immersion- to use ONLY English during lessons?

By definition and historical examples, this form of Western domination is still controlling former colonies, both First World and Third World. Though the sociological argument can be made that the spread of the English language is a stepping stone towards globalisation, the psychological impact slowly abolishing students’ perception of the West is essentially a form of cultural suppression through linguistics: is this not cultural colonialism wearing the mask of globalisation?

Teacher Me

Words

I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
~Drew Tabor~

Words. A thesaurus in front of you, and yet you can’t find that one word that accurately emulates exactly what needs to be conveyed.

Often lyrics play a bigger role in our lives than we give them credit for, but are they truly the lyrics on its own, or is it the style of music that reminds us of what one is really feeling? At times, one can simply read through a set of lyrics, and the words on an empty page depict the true essence of one’s thoughts; but if the melody doesn’t match up with the lyrics, the song would not have the same effect.

However, if the lyrics really are a genuine mirror, then we learn to love the melody regardless.

One often speaks cryptically to mask the actual fact so badly needed to be expressed; but cryptic speech can misconstrue the truth. Perhaps this is why we find the need to disguise the true meaning because hidden language leaves the audience at liberty to interpret. 

Thus, if one were to “interpret” a cryptic message a certain way, the fact that the truth is hidden makes it that much more justifiable: if not all the facts are clear, a dispute is subjective. And subjective truth is one’s own version of reality.

So show me how to fight for now. 

I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am. 
~Imagine Dragons~

The Evolution of The English Language

The Evolution of the English Language. 

In this day and age of modernised language and linguistic evolution, the meaning of words has either been diminished, or altered. There are only so many words in the dictionary, and for whatever reason, society has deemed it acceptable to create additional vocabulary so to easily express what one is trying to convey.

However, before the “invention of colloquialisms,” man seemed to have little trouble with self-expression in the first place. Perhaps it’s the development of technology, the creation of agriculture and the progression of human industry that have rendered it necessary to construct a language separate from the formal – soon to be “former” – English language. Technological language masquerades as the sole evolution of language, but in reality, there are other aspects which have been evolving long before the rise of technology.

Legal language: when society began to establish a legal system, outside of religion (see the Age of Enlightenment), language had to be amended so to incorporate “commoners” who did not have the luxury of elite education. For if legal language was not simplified, it would defeat the purpose of justice: those without sufficient knowledge of formal “Legal Language” would suffer due to a lack of education. In other words, they would be punished for ignorance over the actual crime.

Corporate language: a language used with simple and direct definitions, but with varied contexts, and consequentially, almost a language of its own. Most of the vocabulary in the corporate world can be clearly defined, yet it is the content of what these “words” entail that eludes the average man.

Technological language: a fundamental example of technological language can be reduced to the creation of computers. This, in itself, created a whole new dictionary of words, such as “bytes, megabytes, gigabytes” and so forth. As technology advanced, this brought forth a simplified version of such terms. SMSs required shortened versions of words, due to a limit of characters; Instant Messengers and chat rooms became the cutting-edge version of socialising, and to save a few seconds, “chatters” deemed it “necessary” to shorten their diction and even generate new terminology, such as “LOL,” “OMG,” “Aite” and so forth.

Musical language: originally derived from French, German, Latin, and in rare cases, Spanish. This language too, evolved. In classical music, one often notices the presence of such nomenclature. However, with modern music, unless one has studied music profusely, it is rare to encounter the fundamental denotation of the language.

The English language on its own is ever-changing: considering the fact that it is the most widely taught (not necessarily spoken) language in the world, it is impossible to fully comprehend the actual meaning of words. Not only are new dictionaries being created (see Urban Dictionary), but cultures with different languages have also adopted the use of English words into its everyday language.

English is derived, predominantly, from Latin and Greek; Cantonese colloquialisms from English et cetera.

As human industry continues its transformative journey of change and progression, the English language will furthermore change with it.

This analysis is merely the tip of the iceberg: one can ponder the wonders of the language for a lifetime and still be in awe of its metamorphosis.

That said, here are words or phrases which many often confuse.

– You’re and your
– Effect and affect
– Figuratively and literally
– The use of the word “ironic”
– The use of the word “iconoclast”
– Would have / could have (it is NOT would of / could of)
– Using “Me and Bob” instead of “Bob and I” (see Everything Language and Grammar)
– Using the verb as an adjective, such as “It’s being done”

In sum, the English language is a perpetual process of alteration and transfiguration. In order to reduce the amount of confusion and misunderstanding between individuals, one must be on the same page of the same dictionary!

That is all.

Enjoy!

Gordan.

You got the world on its knees
You’re taking all that you please
You want more…
But you’ll get nothing from me
You’re like the burden we bear…
~Shinedown~