So I was listening to the Cracked podcast again because its enjoyable and good for little factoids, but they were talking about history in an interesting way and turned to language history and said the following: It is not that words form your thoughts, they are your thoughts. No, they absolutely are not: this mixture of Lacanian and Sapir-Whorf is endemic particularly to left-liberals and educated leftists and its been debunked in both cognitive psyche and linguistics for nigh 20 years, and yet people still function as if all symbolic thought was words. 90% of daily expressions are pre-verbal.
I am a poet who is interested in anthropology and philosophy and have some formal training in both. I deal with language all the time, and what I have learned as a poet is what language can’t do, what it doesn’t it change, what it can’t shape. Yet I constantly deal with people who operate in the realm of “criticism” that assume almost exactly the opposite. Then it occurred to me: language policing as a means to change, instead, you know, actually changing social conditions first stems from this basic misunderstanding about people and history. When you don’t change social conditions the term of respect used to replace the prior slur JUST becomes the next slur. It’s a Red Queen game that goes no where. Furthermore, just because people couldn’t leave record of a concept doesn’t mean they didn’t have it in some nascent sense–otherwise changes in language themselves would never happen.
It’s not that we should respect people’s vocabulary wishes, but it is definitely ahistorical and, frankly, anthropologically incorrect, to think that this itself indicates social change. Yet it is assumed in way most political pundits address media and we people talk about the past and its use of language.
Why is this so hard to understand? Is just something that Humanities and social science majors are given to because they study ideas often removed from material history and then presume that bias in psychology?
Even if the “subconsciousness is structured like a language” that doesn’t mean it is the same thing.