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benbradley
11-29-2007, 10:04 AM
Out of self-defense and from a couple of "close encouters," about 15 years ago I read many books on cults (the word cult originally had a neutral meaning, describing a religious group, similar to the word sect, but a few decades ago it became a pejorative meaning a "coercive, high-demand" group, often but not always religious, which survives and gains members through decietful means) - one cult technique is "loading the language" - using ordinary words with meanings other than their ordinary uses. Most members aren't even aware that this happens (very few see themselves as being in a cult), as no one ever comes out and says "The way we use this word is different from ordinary uses." One learns the new meanings by hearing examples of its use, and may only be vaguely aware that the meaning applies only within the group, or that the word is being used in a new way.

But the loading (adding extra meanings which are not in the dictionary) of words is an integral part of such groups, and is an aspect of language I find quite interesting. The word overloading is also used to mean loading in this sense. In the thread "Privileged language, Register, and Humor (split from "A Little Support" in TIO)" (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=82442) someone mentions loaded words (as in epithets), and in this sense loaded may mean "emotionally charged," but as the thread demonstrates, epithets are also loaded in that they mean something different if the speaker is "in" the described group versus "out" of the group.

Here's a short but good description of how the language can be loaded, with a few examples (Caution, discusses controversial political topics):
http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?LoadTheLanguage

Have you (before this thread) recognized such use (or abuse) of the language? Please discuss...

Homewrecker
11-29-2007, 07:40 PM
Would this fall into the arena of language games?

It seems that some religious language is interpreted not only by syntax but also cultural context and I think that would be considered loading language. May be a cult loads language as it is difficult to describe other-worldly experience in other ways that might be easily shared?

Higgins
11-29-2007, 10:03 PM
Out of self-defense and from a couple of "close encouters," about 15 years ago I read many books on cults (the word cult originally had a neutral meaning, describing a religious group, similar to the word sect, but a few decades ago it became a pejorative meaning a "coercive, high-demand" group, often but not always religious, which survives and gains members through decietful means) - one cult technique is "loading the language" - using ordinary words with meanings other than their ordinary uses. Most members aren't even aware that this happens (very few see themselves as being in a cult), as no one ever comes out and says "The way we use this word is different from ordinary uses." One learns the new meanings by hearing examples of its use, and may only be vaguely aware that the meaning applies only within the group, or that the word is being used in a new way.

But the loading (adding extra meanings which are not in the dictionary) of words is an integral part of such groups, and is an aspect of language I find quite interesting. The word overloading is also used to mean loading in this sense. In the thread "Privileged language, Register, and Humor (split from "A Little Support" in TIO)" (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=82442) someone mentions loaded words (as in epithets), and in this sense loaded may mean "emotionally charged," but as the thread demonstrates, epithets are also loaded in that they mean something different if the speaker is "in" the described group versus "out" of the group.

Here's a short but good description of how the language can be loaded, with a few examples (Caution, discusses controversial political topics):
http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?LoadTheLanguage

Have you (before this thread) recognized such use (or abuse) of the language? Please discuss...

I think any out-of-immediate-context use of language that uses the full potential of language is always loaded to some degree. Users of language use it for a reason: it has a (loaded) impact on other users of language.

Hence the "always already" that pomo-theorists can use to suggest why there is no innocent use of language...you're always picking up somebody else's loaded terms.

And just try to unload them. Try to show linguistic and cultural terms and objects as they move in and out of charged usages. Basically for most people most of the time the uncharged or unloaded instance is simply unimaginable, invisible, veiled, lost, shrouded, shadowed, distant, antique, fragmentary, meaningless, academic, devoid of passion or interest.

Not only is uncharged, unloaded language or culture rare...but even if it can be found, it is found strange, remote, lost, incomprehensible, needlessly esoteric and so on.

benbradley
11-29-2007, 10:13 PM
Would this fall into the arena of language games?
It depends on exactly what you mean by "language games." It's not in the sense of how we might consciously play around with words for fun and recreation, as we do in "Writing Exercises, Prompts, and Games," but rather this meaning of game taken from m-w.com (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/game):

2 a: a procedure or strategy for gaining an end : tactic (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/tactic) b: an illegal or shady scheme or maneuver : racket (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/racket)

Or at least, that tends to be the effect. Often people repeating various phrases don't see any negative connotations to what they're saying (or if they do, they see it as justified because of a higher calling, as Moonies justify lying to new recruits to "save" them and get them into Heaven, calling this practice Heavenly Deception).

Here's a rather common example of of such "wordplay" I've seen in several contexts, from "New Age" writings to the signs in front of mainstream Protestant (and perhaps also Catholic) churches:

"Today is a gift. That's why it's called The Present."

This uses a pun on the word present, meaning both the current point in time, and a gift. It's not used as a "groaner" pun in the humorous sense, but rather to tie the two otherwise-unrelated meanings together so that when you think of one meaning you also think of the other.

Is Shweta around? I'd like to see some "professional" comments on this, as these are my admittedly non-professional observations, but I feel I've done a good bit of analysis of this type of thing (analyzing is one thing that is almost universally discouraged in such groups).

It seems that some religious language is interpreted not only by syntax but also cultural context and I think that would be considered loading language. May be a cult loads language as it is difficult to describe other-worldly experience in other ways that might be easily shared?
Perhaps there's something to that idea, but I think it's also to GENERATE some 'other-worldly' experience, or at least an experience that what the group is doing is IMPORTANT, more so than whatever else the members might otherwise be doing, such as (this can apply to several of the examples in the link I gave in the earlier post) "We're SAVING LIVES! What could POSSIBLY be more important?"

JoNightshade
11-29-2007, 10:15 PM
I think this phenomenon occurs in all people groups, not just cults. I see the same thing happen in several company environments. The group develops terms to describe common experiences that are mutually understood but not easily grasped by outsiders. It's a way to shortcut. You can even see it here in AW. This is a poor example, but take for instance the term "infodump." Okay, so this is not normally a word listed in the dictionary, but it's a good example. This is a term writers use to describe a phenomenon unique to our group. When I'm talking to people outside of our group, I have to make sure I explain this term. In my husband's work, they have something called "crunch." For them, this word is defined as "an extended period of time during which all employees must work insane amounts of overtime to get the project done."

It's the same thing with my "cult," which would be Christianity. I'm the editor of a church publication and we have discussions quite frequently about trying to eliminate "Christianspeak." That is, terms that "outsiders" would be confused by. Surprisingly, it is quite hard to do without getting very convoluted. As a group, Christians have agreed on some "new" definitions for words, and they work for us. If we're not using those words, then we're forced to explain the concept every single time, which becomes tedious.

It's almost the genesis of language formation-- it would be if we were separated by geography rather than interest.

benbradley
11-29-2007, 10:50 PM
I think any out-of-immediate-context use of language that uses the full potential of language is always loaded to some degree. Users of language use it for a reason: it has a (loaded) impact on other users of language.

Hence the "always already" that pomo-theorists can use to suggest why there is no innocent use of language...you're always picking up somebody else's loaded terms.

And just try to unload them. Try to show linguistic and cultural terms and objects as they move in and out of charged usages. Basically for most people most of the time the uncharged or unloaded instance is simply unimaginable, invisible, veiled, lost, shrouded, shadowed, distant, antique, fragmentary, meaningless, academic, devoid of passion or interest.

Not only is uncharged, unloaded language or culture rare...but even if it can be found, it is found strange, remote, lost, incomprehensible, needlessly esoteric and so on.
I see what you're saying (I think!), but what I'm thinking of is extremes of language use, rather than using the full range of language (which we as writers should certainly endeaver to do).

benbradley
11-29-2007, 11:19 PM
I think this phenomenon occurs in all people groups, not just cults. I see the same thing happen in several company environments. The group develops terms to describe common experiences that are mutually understood but not easily grasped by outsiders. It's a way to shortcut. You can even see it here in AW. This is a poor example, but take for instance the term "infodump." Okay, so this is not normally a word listed in the dictionary, but it's a good example. This is a term writers use to describe a phenomenon unique to our group. When I'm talking to people outside of our group, I have to make sure I explain this term. In my husband's work, they have something called "crunch." For them, this word is defined as "an extended period of time during which all employees must work insane amounts of overtime to get the project done."
I see the need for jargon and such - as writers we (hopefully) quickly learn what an infodump is and why it's bad. I've actually heard that meaning of crunch as well (from my engineering carreer), as in "crunch time." I think that meaning is fairly common.

There are also common words that have specific meanings in certain areas, which may not reflect their common-use meanings. The words power and energy come to mind - in science and engineering, these are specific, measurable/calculatable quantities, just like distance and voltage. We have new words such as laser (well, it was new in the 1960's) because we don't want to say "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation" every time we mention such a device or the light from it.

Use of jargon/terminology and abbreviations is an important aspect of language, and that's where and how many new words are coined. But this isn't the same as what I'm trying to discuss. Terminology (once the reader learns it) facilitates efficient communications.

But that's not what I'm trying to talk about. I'm going for word usage that manipulates thoughts. Think about advertising - think about this commonly used and misleading phrase in car commercials (usually yelled): "We accept ALL credit applications!"


It's the same thing with my "cult," which would be Christianity. I'm the editor of a church publication and we have discussions quite frequently about trying to eliminate "Christianspeak." That is, terms that "outsiders" would be confused by. Surprisingly, it is quite hard to do without getting very convoluted. As a group, Christians have agreed on some "new" definitions for words, and they work for us. If we're not using those words, then we're forced to explain the concept every single time, which becomes tedious.
What I'm thinking of is the the reason behind the words being used more than just the idea "inventing new words." What you're talking about sounds much like other areas such as engineering I mentioned - I don't see a problem with having shortcurt words for complex concepts. And Christianity has a huge, long history, and there are a lot words that one might not hear every day, such as (off the top of my head) Eucharist.

It's almost the genesis of language formation-- it would be if we were separated by geography rather than interest.

I thought the last word was "Internet" :) which brings up yet another (mostly unrelated) point. I've learned a lot of non-USA words and uses since being in discussions with others around the world, such as +ve and -ve used as abbreviations for positive and negative.

Homewrecker
11-29-2007, 11:27 PM
It depends on exactly what you mean by "language games."


That was my fault. I was referencing Wittgenstein's language games.

Throughout the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein returns, again and again, to the concept of language-games to make clear his lines of thought concerning language. . . .

One example he used was the builders' language-game (PI 2), in which a builder and his assistant use four terms (block, pillar, slab, beam). These terms mean something very specific to these two people in their context and would not be understood by someone outside their profession.

Some properties of language-games can be noticed in Wittgenstein's several examples and comments. They are, first, a part of a broader context termed by Wittgenstein a form of life . . . .Secondly, the concept of language-games points at the rule-governed character of language. This does not entail strict and definite systems of rules for each and every language-game, but points to the conventional nature of this sort of human activity.

Yanked out of context from
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein/

And I'm trying to ask if using loaded terms is not a form of language game because the they are imbueing words with more or specific meaning than usually found in the word?

============
"Today is a gift. That's why it's called The Present."

Ben this reminded me that when I was in theatre we used to say, "Theatre is supposed is be fun. That's why it's call a 'play.'"

ColoradoGuy
11-30-2007, 03:33 AM
But that's not what I'm trying to talk about. I'm going for word usage that manipulates thoughts. Think about advertising - think about this commonly used and misleading phrase in car commercials (usually yelled): "We accept ALL credit applications!"
I think skillful propagandists know controlling language goes a long way toward controlling thought. It's what the adjective Orwellian means to me. I'm still a little, teeny bit of a closet Sapir-Whorf (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=978535&postcount=638) person, so language to me represents the tools of thought. In another thread we've even talked about how language usage can remodel the brain itself (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70429).

The bottom line is that injecting new meaning (or secret, privileged meaning) into a word is to affect how people think.

The relationship between thought and language is sort of the Mother Issue in language theory, I think. Now if I could only understand Wittgenstein.

Higgins
11-30-2007, 07:22 PM
That was my fault. I was referencing Wittgenstein's language games.


And I'm trying to ask if using loaded terms is not a form of language game because the they are imbueing words with more or specific meaning than usually found in the word?



[quote=ColoradoGuy;1848281]I think skillful propagandists know controlling language goes a long way toward controlling throught. It's what the adjective Orwellian means to me. I'm still a little, teeny bit of a closet Sapir-Whorf (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=978535&postcount=638) person, so language to me represents the tools of thought. In another thread we've even talked about how language usage can remodel the brain itself (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70429).

The bottom line is that injecting new meaning (or secret, privileged meaning) into a word is to affect how people think.

The relationship between thought and language is sort of the Mother Issue in language theory, I think. Now if I could only understand Wittgenstein.

I've never been particularly impressed with the language/thought nexus being viewed as deterministic. For example, if language structure has any impact (to take Sapir/Whorf's original example, Hopi, an UtoAztecan language) why are some UtoAztecans Hopis and some Utes and some ran the Aztec Empire? Obviously nothing in the structure of UtoAztecan has any impact at all on the thinking that creates a classic MesoAmerican Empire and that surely took a great deal of thought.

For me the mother issue in language theory is how different language usages link up. IT's a huge issue in the History of Science where for example the term "electron" means something totally different for one approach (in say 1903) versus another. How do engineers talk to experimentalists and experimentalists to theoreticians? Their entire use of language is different and far more systematically different than cultic language plus the concepts to be communicated are far more intricate than cultic concepts.

HeronW
01-06-2008, 06:49 PM
Religious cults and most any social/employment/learning areas have their own jargon and use everyday words in a context that only fits that specific context. They also change or are dropped from usage.

'Factor' was used as a science word for hormonal markers 25-30 years ago but it is no longer accurate for the context today.

'Factor' in math, we know : 4 integers of 6 are 1&6, and 2&3.

A factor is also the title of one who manages an estate in Scotland.

bluntforcetrauma
02-16-2008, 07:41 AM
Don't writers load the language somewhat? We want the reader to believe XYZ so we feed them what it takes to sell them on it. Just a thought.

Higgins
02-18-2008, 09:29 PM
Don't writers load the language somewhat? We want the reader to believe XYZ so we feed them what it takes to sell them on it. Just a thought.

I think writers end up spending just as much time unloading language as loading it. For example, I want my reader to believe my version of XYZ, not whatever in-exact version of XYZ passes for XYZ in the cultural enzyme goo. I want my reader to experience XYZ as XYZ not some loaded, pre-enyzmatically-culturally-digested version of XYZ.

DWSTXS
02-18-2008, 11:08 PM
'Language loading' can also be used (and is) in some methods of hypnosis. Using 'language loading' allows one to bypass, more easily, the critical thinking faculties of the mind.

Ruv Draba
02-19-2008, 12:13 AM
Out of self-defense and from a couple of "close encouters," about 15 years ago I read many books on cults (the word cult originally had a neutral meaning, describing a religious group, similar to the word sect, but a few decades ago it became a pejorative meaning a "coercive, high-demand" group According to Etymonline.com (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=cult&searchmode=none), etymologically "cult" comes from cultus, from which we get "cultivate" and "culture" - it's about tending and tilling. "Sect" meanwhile comes from secta - a way or road... something that is followed (in this case unrelated to but confused with secare - to cut, which gives us 'section' for example). "Cult" appeared in the 17th century but then lost currency. It got revived in the 19th century to talk about primitive rituals, so it has a well-worn modern pejorative meaning that perhaps has been reappropriated by others in the last 15 years. ;)

But the loading (adding extra meanings which are not in the dictionary) of words is an integral part of such groups, and is an aspect of language I find quite interesting.This feels turned about to me.

Dictionary definitions appear by chasing cultural usage. A use has to be around for a good while before it appears in the "authoritative" dictionaries. Once it does so, it may become prescriptive but its origins are still descriptive.

But meanwhile as the linguists mull, cultures squabble over semantics every day, and this is nothing new. It's just rhetoric (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetoric)in action - a symptom of ideas in contest - and dates back to The Iliad at least, so say around 800BC.

In cultures where the propaganda are heavily controlled, ideas may not be permitted to drift. There are typically sanctions for using words in unauthorised or subversive ways. In religions, ascribing an unauthorised meaning to a word can be seen as a heresy; in authoritarian politics it can be seen as sedition.

In cultures where the propaganda are not heavily controlled, you swim in a sea of competing meanings and it's constantly changing. Every competing idea pumps out its own propaganda, and you have to navigate among it all. But if you don't like one person's usage of a term, you can always find another's.

So I think that the term "loaded" is itself rather er.. "loaded"... the idea that words have ab initio some "pure" and "correct" meaning is only true when the propaganda are aready controlled. I think that a more accurate term is just "rhetoric" -- and when you say it that way, you realise that nearly everybody's doing it - not just the cults, but most religions, as well as Political Correctness devotees from both the left and right, lobby groups of all persuasions, and every other bastion of social ideology.

Here in Australia, the term "working families" has emerged since the last national election, and I find it mighty amusing. It's not enough that Australians might want this or that, if "working families" want it, it has a special legitimacy.

I'm not sure what the complement of "working families" is though. "Idle individuals" maybe. "Dilatory divorcees". Nobody can tell me. Nor can anyone explain to me why the needs of working families are so much more important than anyone else's. "Oops! I have kids! Urk! Now I've got a job too! Help meeee!" "Look, Prime Minister! There's another one! Egads, they're everywhere! Quick, rush more legislation through!"