Language and Reality
Human beings exist in a world blessed and fraught with various disparate meanings. Meanings translate differently from one individual to the next; the rifts in culture, gender, ideology, age, and so on, dictate how these meanings will be shaped and come to be. But these are concepts and ideas which exist in the abstract. Language exists to give form and structure to these abstract meanings, in order for people to communicate them.
Reality is said to be shaped by these said structures by which individuals communicate their meaning. Our perceptions reflect the means by which we communicate and vice versa. In the largely male centered backdrop that is the English or American language for instance, women can be found on the receiving end of a certain type of oppresion, perhaps not in the most potent of forms, but is nonetheless tangible and very much real in the world today.
Various disparaging terms are used to define women who are climbing career ladders and excelling outside of the usual homes they are traditionally confined to. The term ‘bitch,’ has been thoroughly dragged on and overused in colloquial terms that its initial and original meaning refuses to be given much notice anymore. Similar disparaging terms are used to describe women, referring to the idea of their success as an evil prospect that will render them ‘cold’ and neglecting, as opposed to the male dominated world’s idea of a nurturing woman; while few scathing terms exist to regard a man in similar point of success, instead being referred to as ‘hardworking,’ and generally viewed as a good person. The term ‘woman’ in itself connotes a feeling of inferiority and lesser significance, seeing as how a couple of letters were merely added to its original term, ‘man.’
Language can be employed as a tool to confine and reduce people to specific labels and stereotypes, because it exists as an avenue where meanings are communicated, it can also restrict and expand on people’s forms of expression. Such is evident in the existence of words which are used to define people’s feelings and sentiments. Words are used to refer to sentiments and realizations already in existence, but they are also capable of largely dictating what sentiments and realizations will take form. The availabilty of certain words permit people to create ideologies, meanings, and persuasions around it.
These few instances reflect a considerable part of reality as it is happening in society today. Language shapes a huge part of our culture and society. It directly affects each and every individual in the way they define themselves and communicate or interact with the rest of the world.
Language and the perception of reality co-exist hand in hand; it is difficult to regard the existence of the latter without the actuality of the former. People should pay more attention to the meanings they communicate and how they choose to communicate them, to create a healthy avenue and traffic of thoughts and sentiments in the shaping of a better world.