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semantics and censorship...seduction..

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posted on Jun, 18 2007 @ 07:19 PM
Orangetom, I have come late into this thread and there is much to read about but I want to keep it simple and state that IMHO, language is the medium for thought. If you can restrict the language, you do not restrict the richness of experience and expression. However, there are subtleties oin the use and misuse of language by the media that is a deliberate use of propaganda by the Government that were well described by Hermann and Chomsky so I will not reiterate them here. Suffice to say that the demise of working class newspapers and the rise of the Capitalist pyramidal economic structure has led to most of the world's Press and Media being owned by a relatively few people.

Moreover, there are a restricted number of news agencies to supply the news so that newspapers across the board tend to have homologous reports IMO. You can question me and say that four or five newspapers will give you an overall representation of reality but I would argue that the relatively few news agencies represent exactly what they are supposed to, from the viewpoint of Government. As an example, I can imagine that there have been few images, if any. of dead people from the Iraq war. There woould be fewer images of dead American bodies being shipped home to their native soil. Most images of Muslims would be accompanied by black masks, or of men marching with swords held aloft or chanting. In other words propaganda and censorship rule the world...

Finally, orangetom, I have to mention problems closer to home in the field of language. Bernstein referred to the 'restricted code' spoken by lower socioeconomic classes, in contrast to the elaborated code spoken by higher classes. He referred to the both codes in the following terms:

(i) syntax is more formally correct in the elaborated code, but looser in the restricted code. There are, for example, more subordinate clauses in the elaborated code, and fewer unfinished sentences.
(ii) There are more logical connectives like if and unless in the elaborated code, whereas the restricted code uses more words of simple coordination like and and but.
(iii) There is more originality in the elaborated code; there are more clichés in the restricted code.
(iv) Reference is more explicit in the elaborated code, more implicit in the restricted code: so the restricted code uses a greater number of pronouns than the elaborated code (see the example quoted at length below).
(v) The elaborated code is used to convey facts and abstract ideas, the restricted code attitude and feeling.


I grew up in a tough area which probably used restricted code as the common currency of spoken language. I probably grew up as a 'street' boy. However, my moment of turnaround came from visiting the Public Library for the first time at the age of 8. It was an eye-opening. mind-blowing experience to be trusted to borrow 6 books for 3 weeks. I never looked back and got a good education.

However, I find that, as an educator of 10 years now, the children in my school in a tough district use restricted code and it actually hinders examination performance. The variety of expressions use can adequately describe scientific phenomena, but their restricted code does not allow them to perform well in examinations that involve extended writing. They write as they speak. What is the cause? Even though they come from working class backgrounds, many exclude themselves from use of elaborated code by using video games and televised programmes as a sole source of learning, thereby excluding themselves from the pleasure of reading a book at their own paece and using their imaginations. They are exposed to 'quick fix' language and it shows. The demise of book-reading is one factor, amongst many, which has led to the demise of education. I would appreciate your views.

posted on Jun, 19 2007 @ 01:23 AM

My thanks for your post and the article by Bernstein. I agree with the basic premise of that article and your viewpoint.

I work in a local shipyard and very much notice the format described by you and Bernstein seems to fit that pattern.
I will also state that even among people of degrees and letters their language abilitys seem to be restricted. I often and perhapsed erroneously surmise that this is because they watch to much television. Television seems to me to have become a type of seduction ..across the board both in lowest common denominator of language and values systems which accompany.
Our language abilitys seem to have been hijacked somewhere along the line...substituted...without many even being aware.

I also agree that in lieu of deep thought and ability to expression by language we have come down to cliches or cheap words or phrases to decribe what we feel or emote...not necessarily depth and variety or ability in what we think.

As to news and information ..I agree. You are getting me started here now!! As I have stated in other posts..years ago before home computers I listened to alot of shortwave radio and tuned into many foreign broadcasts when they would send out thier signals in English. It was here that I began to grasp what a heavy paper curtain we have here in this country.
Having somewhat of an electronic background it was not difficult for me to discern that this could also continue with on line services.
It most certainly is occuring with television formats...programming/brainwashing. And I mean this no matter from where one gets thier information through the "Boob tube." I am careful what I buy into from this source.
Most of my news and information now days is from this computer but I also know that alot of discretion is required here too. What I get here is a larger variety from which to decide...but ...the buyer beware as the olde folks taught me.

As to reading HeroNumber0...much of this skill has been replaced by watching. People have become watchers rather than doers and thinkers. It is very easy to let television and movies do our thinking and emoting for us. To live second hand so to speak....vicarious.

It is amazing to me the number of people I know who cannot describe some kind of thought pattern in terms of thier own thinking. Instead they substitute a movie or television show they have watched..for real experience. I do not believe some of them are even aware of such in themselves. They are second hand people.

I suppose one could say this about reading books ....but books have taught me many things. Manuals and how to read them I got from from my Father. How to do, how to fix,and how to make your own. This to me is not second hand...especially if you are sufficiently gifted to customize further in what you learn from books.

Now just reading for pleasure..I got from my mother. When I have time ,which is not often anymore, I like to read books on history, politics, economics, philosophy, and just plain fiction if it appears of intrest to me.
A good book and some peace and quiet I can literally camp out and ignore the world surrounding me.

From my early formative years of Edgar Rice Borroughs and Louis a more sophisticated...pallate of James Clavell, Pearl Buck, and others.

But through all of this..somewhere along the line I began to notice words themselves. Meanings ...and eventually the etymology of words. I learned with Edgar Rice Borroughs ,so many years ago, that my basic vocabularly was sorely lacking. I found myself often devouring his writing style and keeping a dictionary close. This was where I discovered that women were described as "handsome", a use of language for which one might today be slapped. Also as I recall a "hansom" was a horse drawn carriage or a cab back in those days.
Today I still recall with fondness the lessons in langauge and words taught to me by the storys of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

But I must also tell you, HeroNumber, that English in public school was never my strong point. I hated most of what they fed us in school though I can appreciate it more today. I still recall disliking the reading of Beowulf. I thought it was awful back then. And English this I was horrible.
I suppose my appreciation of history late in life helped with reading and great authors. They are connected..history and language.. in how one is able to digest and appreciate what one reads.

My limited language abilitys dont allow me to describe sufficiently how poor language abilitys limit our skills in appreciating the world around us and our ability to express such to others outside of some four letter words for a base emotion.

When you know certain traits of can see things or ideas in three dimensions instead of only two. You can see in colours instead of just black and white. You can even see and grasp that which is not ordinarily visible to most. A fourth dimension... Subtilty, radar seeing in the dark, or having the ability to see in ones mind the necessary steps to work that rubik's cube which drove so many of us to madness some years back. The ability to see and describe to others that which is not seen by the naked eye.

Language has the ability to bridge this gap for those skilled in its usage. It is beautiful the manner and workings of language to those who appreciate thus.

All of us have the ability to do this for ourselves. It is a gift a blessing which must be properly nourished and fed. It is not a skill or trait which comes naturally but it is very very valuable.

Heronumber0, thanks for your post,

posted on Jun, 19 2007 @ 10:05 AM
I learned to read at the age of three. My favourite books when I was a child were a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and a college-level book about dinosaurs.

As long as I can remember, I have had a better vocabulary than most people of my age. My fellow teenagers took a long time to grasp concepts I was already comfortable with, and could not explain -- it would have been like asking a child to explain why two and two make four. That is just the way it is.

I believe that my early exposure to complicated text left me with an easier understanding of complex concepts -- I already knew the words to express the concepts, and only needed to learn the concepts themselves.

My easy understanding of more complex words set me apart from my peers, but has prepared me for the outside world. Out in the real world, things do not come in simple terms most of the time. They require longer, more detailed words to describe them adequately.

From coming into early contact with complex writing and long words, I have been taught to "see the world in colour", as it were. Because I have a larger vocabulary, I can see things closer to how they truly are.

That is a gift that children should receive; however, many modern children do not receive that gift. They see the television (where rich description is replaced by images) and the computer monitor (where things move quickly and with little detail) and think they're getting the whole story. They are not.

It's time to wake up.

posted on Jun, 19 2007 @ 11:28 AM
Nathan P,

Very intresting point you have made here.

That is a gift that children should receive; however, many modern children do not receive that gift. They see the television (where rich description is replaced by images) and the computer monitor (where things move quickly and with little detail) and think they're getting the whole story. They are not.

I discription being replaced by images. Emphasis here on "Rich Discriiption."

The first movie I recall watching which was also a book I had read was Bridge over the river Kwai.
I recall being let down by the images on the screen when the book was so rich in colour and depth. What a revalation to discover such a contrast between the pages of the book and the big screen.

I have had a number of other movies make this contrast quite clear over the ensuing years. A big let down when contrasted to letting your imagination run through the pages of a book.


Post Script: I too, loved to read Arthur Conan Doyle in my youth.

[edit on 19-6-2007 by orangetom1999]

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