Linguistic exploitation

Linguistic exploitation JONATHAN POOL "Not the gun but the word is the symbol of authority. The most frequent governmental activities are talking, writing, listening, and reading" (Lindblom 1977: 52). If Lindblom is right about what governments do, then the word is not merely a symbol but also a tool of authority. If words are tools of authority, then language, which allows people to produce words, must be a tool for making tools of authority. And, if language is a machine tool in the authority industry, then we should also expect people to compete for control over language. As expected, we find struggles over language taking place every day. Political activists devote much of their energy to such struggles. And the nature of politics may be influenced by the fact that linguistic competition is one of the determinants of political success. According to one Interpretation, suggested by Edelman (1977), those who have political power use it to get power over language, and those who have power over language use it to get political power, with the result that the ideal of democratic government is never achieved. Myers-Scotton (1989) has offered a variant of this argument, under the heading of "elite closure," http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of the Sociology of Language de Gruyter

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 1993 by the
ISSN
0165-2516
eISSN
1613-3668
DOI
10.1515/ijsl.1993.103.31
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

JONATHAN POOL "Not the gun but the word is the symbol of authority. The most frequent governmental activities are talking, writing, listening, and reading" (Lindblom 1977: 52). If Lindblom is right about what governments do, then the word is not merely a symbol but also a tool of authority. If words are tools of authority, then language, which allows people to produce words, must be a tool for making tools of authority. And, if language is a machine tool in the authority industry, then we should also expect people to compete for control over language. As expected, we find struggles over language taking place every day. Political activists devote much of their energy to such struggles. And the nature of politics may be influenced by the fact that linguistic competition is one of the determinants of political success. According to one Interpretation, suggested by Edelman (1977), those who have political power use it to get power over language, and those who have power over language use it to get political power, with the result that the ideal of democratic government is never achieved. Myers-Scotton (1989) has offered a variant of this argument, under the heading of "elite closure,"

Journal

International Journal of the Sociology of Languagede Gruyter

Published: Jan 1, 1993

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