The Garifuna people of Belize and Guatemala have a very special culture and a very special language. In fact, the men have a language for speaking to men, and the women have a language for speaking to women. Specifically
One interesting feature of Garifuna is a vocabulary split between terms used only by men and terms used only by women. This does not however affect the entire vocabulary but when it does, the terms used by men generally come from Carib and those used by women come from Arawak.
When Garifuna people speak to each other, they are consciously aware of whom they are speaking with and they know what language is appropriate.
Which brings me to the US and the separate languages used in the US in political discourse. The right and its media refer to “harsh interrogation” techniques. The left should refer to “torture.” The right and its media refer to “extraordinary renditions”. The left should refer to “kidnappings” and “illegal extraditions.” The right wing refers to “illegal immigrants.” The left should say “undocumented workers.” You get the idea. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that the traditional media almost always use the right wing language. The left wing language can be found in some places in Leftblogistan, but even there the right wing language frequently infiltrates the discussion.
So I have made a late 2007 early 2008 resolution. When discussing the political issues surrounding the abridgment of the US Constitution and US policy, I am no longer going to use any of the right wing vocabulary. In fact, I am going to ferret out all right wing language and substitute other, clearer, more precise words in my writing and discourse.
I am convinced that when I drop right wing language it will immediately make it clear that I am no longer indulging in the same incorrect assumptions as those who speak the right wing language. And my new choice of words will, I hope, cut through all of the pernicious verbal forms our traditional media persist in serving up. This can only lead to increased clarity and precision. And it can only end the prevalence of that fuzzy code the right wing speaks to us to subvert our own expressions.
Want to join me in this? I hope so.