September 5, 2006

The Elite Take On The Effete

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguistics professor and lexicographer, has written a new book titled Talking Right in which he puts forth an interesting theory about political power. He espouses that whichever party controls the language of an issue will inevitably hold power over that issue. This is because the opposition is unable to speak except in terms already created by the party in power.

While politicking has commonly become known as a marketing exercise, Dr. Nunberg's theory is impressive because he brings to attention the fact that language is the singularly most powerful resource we have as human beings. It is a tool of influence and a weapon of insight. Used well, your loves swoon and your enemies cower.

Phrases such as the inflammatory "death tax" offered in place of its more modest cousin the "estate tax" leave permanent images in the minds of decision making voters. Do you want to be the one who supports the "death tax" in an election year?

In this age of technology and instant information (which is frequently incorrect, or worse, half correct, because it is compiled for expediency instead of accuracy), words are still used to persuade and discuss. They will be for a long time.

Until all the bugs are worked out of that telepathy thing, you should consider what your words are telling people - on your website, in your correspondence, coming out of your mouth, or better yet, coming out of the mouths of others for which you are responsible.

Words are the currency of the persuasion economy, so you had better manage your money well and especially watch that exchange rate when you cross over the border.