Words Matter

Words matter. Language matters. Culture matters. Your voice matters.

I am preceding my normal posting of a podcast – in this case Episode 14 – in order to reflect on the importance and impact of words, language, and culture on the day after the historic mayhem at our nation’s Capitol.

In all previous podcasts, as I have mentioned earlier, the emerging truth of how language forms our identity and defines our community has been clear, even when podcast guests had not intended that to be the focus of their conversation. Language is identity. And our language “tribe” becomes our community. And the words of the community become part of the identity, then, of the community.

In the upcoming podcast Episode 14, my guest Dr. Adrienne Jones Daly will make the specific point that the experiences of individuals lead them to language choices that, without them realizing it, can mean a breakdown of full understanding when speaking with or writing to others. That is, our language can be our bubble, as we talk and write right past others. And the bubble of the individual becomes, by extension, the bubble of the community.

This truth is being experienced right now, before us, in the chaos, anger, and passion expressed in devastating and destructive action in our country.

This truth is of course not limited to these days. It has been present throughout our country’s history and before – and to all countries’ and cultures’ histories. We have had the language communities (and identities, and bubbles) of natives and immigrants, conquerors and conquered, owners and owned, caste and gender and generations. Yes, language is identity and language is our community…it is our life tool, and can be our weapon.

Thus the key purposes for my podcasts. First, to help all of us to become more aware, through the stories we hear and share, of the profound role and potential of language and culture in healthy, joyful personal and community identity and impact…and, tragically, in actions of separation, mistrust, and oppression. Second, to encourage all peoples everywhere to learn (or at least learn about) other languages and cultures; by doing so the awareness of the identity of the other – individually and in community — becomes clear and, most importantly, is seen to be natural, expected, and bridgeable, and not a threat.

So keep listening to the podcasts and sharing them with others. See how awareness of language’s nature and impact calms us down, opens awareness of our common humanity, and reaffirms strongly our own identity while graciously welcoming the identity of others. See how, when we realize the words we use are conditioned by our own experiences and identity, we can avoid misunderstanding and the feeling of being threatened by others. See how, once we realize that words and language matter, we can have confidence in our own unique identity, and receive others with joy and respect.

Words matter. Language matters. You matter. Our common language-unique humanity matters. Keep listening, keep sharing, find your voice, and share your stories. Contact me if you have a story you want to share here on Fluency/It’s About Language. We need to hear it.

You can find all my podcast episodes on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Or subscribe to FluencyOnline on YouTube.

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