La tensión entre los que deben defender ciertas normas, opiniones y valores, y los que luchan por otras nuevas, es el resultado sobre el que descansa la evolución de la sociedad.

Serge Moscovici

Everybody language (ALPE, 2010) (doc)

And from a certain point of view, they are right: Language is alive.

This does not mean that we should allow it to mould us at its whim like a wayward child, nor that the world must adapt to it, to all of its accumulated burden of tradition, of prejudice, of errors.Language reflects society. Does language reflect society or does it shape society? Let’s say that language works in both directions: It is the product of all of the concepts, dreams, fears, desires, and prejudices which circulate among and through us, emanating from us. But at the same time, language constitutes those same dreams, that same “social mind”. We can deduce the character or ideology of a person from the words that he or she uses to talk about the world, rather than the ideas that he or she claims to profess. All of us have at times noticed the surprising inconsistency between someone’s language and his or her theory. Therefore, whoever intends to change something, be it a person, a society or a group, or an entire culture, must first -before anything- face up to language. There is a contradiction between seeking change, progressing in one way or another, and accepting the impositions of language with all of its burden.If language indeed reflects what we want to change, why accept it without first questioning it? Even children realise that our insults are less shocking if we think about certain topics .Sometimes, it is not known whether or not we insult homosexuals by saying “faggot” to someone evil or immoral, even though it appears that we want to insult only that individual.And such is the case with many words, usually much more subtly than this vulgar and obvious example.Why is a black woman not “a beautiful woman” or even “a pretty black woman” but “a pretty little black one”? Why is a man (just like a certain politician recently), shorter than he who he wishes to insult, a “dwarf”? There are countless cases in which language dominates us and we do not control the connotations given by things which “we don’t want to say” but we say still. It’s not we who speak; it’s language.

An in-depth analysis of the majority of the messages coming from a person would reveal the mechanisms with which language disguises all of its complexity.Language is the product of history and even though, in theory, it has been passed down through history, many visions of that unfair world that has changed and we want to continue to change survive in the language we use every day, just like rooted remains of hidden plants.Language needs to change if we want to change reality.

And language changes daily without us realising it, so nobody must cry to the heavens because this occurs, as this is only a sign of its vitality.Making language change in one direction or another is a task for everybody.And that word “everybody” includes all who use it, all those who belong to our society; it also includes those who have traditionally lived away from it, as if they did not exist more than at its margin, as if they had no voice and didn’t use that language which is as much theirs as it is that of the people who, for having almost everything in common with the rest, are considered “normal”.Language is changed when we use it to talk, and the fact that these people who, until now, have been marginalised are using it is the clearest sign that language is changing, and the best way to do it. Using our voice is changing language. EVERYBODY’S language.

ALPE Foundation