Heroism and the power of language
I’m sorry to hear about your ‘heroic’ queuing experience! It sounds exhausting.
Toni (from Barcelona) mentions how the internet has reduced the need for long queues in Spain. The same thing has happened here; a lot of applications and payments can now be made online. I think that the only queues I have to join these days are: at the bus stop, in the York St John University dining room and (sometimes) at the supermarket. So, I’m lucky!
Most people don’t have to have an ID card in the UK (though, of course lots of people have driving licences and passports etc.). The government seems keen on ID cards, however, and has just introduced a trial voluntary sign-up scheme in Manchester. There are details of the scheme here, a sample ID card and a link called Have your Say which shows how some people feel about ID cards:
Manchester launch for ID cards
The BBC News article above mentions that, in future, we will be able to get an ID card at our local post office or pharmacy. So, your British colleagues will be asked to take on this extra job, in addition to carrying out their regular services!
We’ve have been talking about how language changes to cope with new ideas; I mentioned the new phrase flu friend in the leaflet giving us information about swine flu. You mentioned the very interesting and important example of pre-emptive (as in pre-emptive strike – meaning I hit you first, but implying that my reason for doing so was only to prevent something worse happening).
I think that noticing changes in the meaning of words and noticing how certain words, and not others, are selected is important. Not only do changes in meaningrespond to new ideas, they also create and maintain new ideas. For example, the idea that there is a moral justification for hitting someone before she hits you (when many people may feel that there is, in fact, no moral justification).
I was recently looking for internet sites to help Rian and Clara with their school work and found this useful one for A-level English Language students (who are usually 18 years old):
Language and Power
The section on Influential power - media (broadcast, print, new technologies) is interesting. You have to scroll down to about the middle of the page to find it. This section contains one of the examples you mention: guerrillas/freedom fighters/terrorists, as well others such as: refugees/economic migrants/asylum seekers.
In the BBC News report on ID cards I mentioned earlier, the Home Secretary is quoted as saying, "ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists".
Imagine how this sentence would sound if the Home Secretary had used different words for these three 'categories' of people, for example, "increased protection against people who challenge the law, refugees and freedom fighters". Perhaps these three categories of people would not sound so frightening......and perhaps the Home Secretary's case for ID cards as 'protection' against them would be much less convincing...
The power of language!
OK, after that very serious point, I hope that tomorrow does not require you to perform any further heroic acts!
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