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Thursday, 5 December 2013


There is language and langwedge. Language is talking to people or with them. Talking to them is good; talking with them is best. Making wedges between them is bad. Driving foul wedges into them is worst.

Talking with people not only strives to communicate--to be heard and listened to and understood--it also strives to please. It strives to use language in a way that gives pleasure, and therefore uses it with care, and
thus shows that the speaker cares about the listener.

That is the heights. The worst depths are what Tolkien called Black Speech. English is the greatest language that has ever existed on Earth. It has hundreds of thousands of good words. Filling one's mouth and other people's ears with constant repetitions of a few foul ones says to the hearers, 'I care nothing for you, you are only a toilet, I want to fill you with verbal sewage. You are only worth being psychologically abused, I am the one to do it, and I shall do it. For I am superior to you, I am worth more than you, I have the right to make a toilet of you, I have the right to violate you with my excrement, and you have no right to deny me.'

It is regrettable that although using such language in or within hearing of a public place has long been illegal in New Zealand, it is a law hardly ever invoked, and that the abuse remains rampant. Most of it is psychological sexual abuse, because the words are black words for the parts of our bodies that make us male and female and and mark us such. Denigrating them in the most vile way is the same under the heading of gender as calling an African a nigger under the heading of race. 'Nigger' is psychological racial abuse; four-letter words are psychological sexual abuse.

Unfortunately most of that abuse is hurled at men. Even the word that on the surface applies only to women is usually used of men by men; for it is the ultimate abuse: it says that a man does not have the mark of manhood. When used of a woman it says that that is all she is, that it is has only the value of abuse, and that she should be treated accordingly.

'Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.' Small wonder that there is so much retaliatory abuse in visual and physical forms.