Spouse discussion

Jessie Strader (jes22@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Wed, 20 Dec 1995 19:46:53 -0500

On Tue, 19 Dec 1995, Thomas W. Rimkus wrote:

> Conscious political goals are being thrust on a language by a minority
> of the users of the language in an attempt to effect a change on the
> culture. This seems to be quite different from the normal changes a
> language goes thru as the majority of users adopt changes to reflect a
> changing culture.

This seems to imply that before politics there was some politically
neutral, i.e., apolitical, form of language. I don't think I can agree
with that.
First, it seems to me that all language is political--words,
especially those words under discussion here, bear semantic loads.
Second, I'm not certain what constitutes a "normal change." Can any
case of a change of meaning be cited that does not have some political
Finally, doesn't the fact that this discussion is taking place
constitute an instance of "changing culture?" Barring changes due
to catastrophe,don't most changes in culture take hold after discussion
and consensus?
Which comes first: change in language -- the way we
symbolically present ourselves -- or change in the selves that
make up the culture? If we are stumbling over words, it seems to me that
the culture has already changed and the confusion is caused by language
that no longer fits the culture. This is not political. This is a
crises of identity.