Vigilance

Valeria Maltoni is the author of one of my favourite blogs - The Conversation Agent - she left a comment here that I thought was an interesting take in language said...

I too believe that language can be a powerful ally in helping us articulate what we feel and move/inspire to action; at the same time I am conscious of how it can be manipulated and massaged to drive to a specific outcome.

The difference, as you point out here, is humanity -- candor, awareness, willingness to enter the messiness of potential misunderstandings so we can mix it up with each other. My own mother used to say that there are people who get it, no matter how you say it... and others who will never get it, no matter how hard you try.


Valerie is right. One of the fundamental concepts that I try to drill into my students at Massey University School of Design is: just because you say something clearly it doesn't mean it will be received as you intended. Static takes many forms and corrupts even the purest of messages.

The lesson is to understand the language (in all its forms) of your audience, don't assume that what you understand as truth is true for all.

When it comes to Unspeak…distorting perceptions by cynically violating what is generally understood in seemingly benign ways… I'd ask you to remember that The Final Solution was a cynically detached way of saying: exterminate Jewish people (and other groups who didn't conform to the Nazi's perverted ideology).

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