Words are powerful!
I love language and am a self-confessed punctuation vigilante. As humans we are fortunate to be able to convey meaning, emotion, or subtlety through the words we choose and the way in which we say or write them.
Our obsession with words means that speeches and sound bites by the good and the great are quickly dissected by the media and commentators. Therefore with the power of words, comes great responsibility. Recently, I have observed a number of social media posts about the use of language by in government, politics, and the media.
Who would have thought that "hashtag", "selfie", or "jeggings" would ever have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Our vocabulary reflects our society. And if we want an inclusive and tolerant society we need to choose our words to reflect this.
Several years ago, we saw the "It's so gay" campaign in the US, trying to discourage the use of the word "gay" as a substitute for bad, ugly, or ridiculous. This conversation continues in the UK through the great work of charities like Diversity Role Models and Stonewall, going into schools and discussing issues around terminology.
In all areas of society we have a duty to use words accurately as a way of steering the sort of society we desire.
Recently discussions have focused on other areas of society:
- Honour-based violence: A term which actually refers to assault and murder.
- Islamic State: Not a state at all. They are terrorists.
- Child pornography: Nope. Pornography can be enjoyable. This is simply child sexual exploitation and child abuse.
Let's stop using words which misrepresent what we are describing, simply because it makes us feel better, or means we don't have to "see" the real issue.
Let's start being honest with our words and use the power of words to make society better.