Inner Michael » More about Words and “Words and Violence”

More about Words and “Words and Violence”

Wordsmiths have a sexy little secret- they are in love with language and they make love to language every single day. If you want to see a wordsmith drool over something, show them some writing with a combination of words that loudly and in very few precise syllables, describes a situation while causing an abdominal “thunk” and a startled sudden involuntary in-breath.

Show them a piece of literature that makes them salivate to get a taste or already gives them a taste of what is being offered—like eating an orange in the dark:  Let them sense the fragile veins, feel the tearing of flesh, ooze the juice down the chin and end with sticky fingers that long to be licked with a tongue quivering in anticipation.

Show them prose that reads like poetry and that has rhythm, alliteration and a pulse. Show them a paragraph with a heartbeat. Let them find something alive and that lives in the assemblage of words in language! And if you really want to capture and hold them hostage, tease them with linguistics.

Linguistics is the science of language—a study of natural language and the nature of language. It describes and explains human language, how it is known and used, and supposes that language as a form of communication is natural to human beings, is biologically based and the learning of it is unique to our species. Is it natural to human cognition? Are there codes in the brain? Is it genetic? Are we hard wired for language? There is a language area in the brain and neuroscience has found that humans show a preference for how they process the energy of words.

Are you a visual person? Then you will “see the bigger picture.” An auditory person who relies on hearing the words to understand them will give clues in their speech of their orientation: “I hear what you are saying.” And a sensory person will say something like “I feel it could have been done better; I ached for a flourish in the finale!” Words give clues to where people are coming from—head, heart, groin, or somewhere else. That’s called Neurolinguistics and Neurolinguistic Programming.

There are linguistic structures of sound patterns, gestures, head and hand movements, eye movement directions and so much more. There are semiotic structures that indicate signs and symbols and the stuff of mythology and archetypes.

There are divisions of the field of linguistics: enthno-linguistics that consider the cultural origin of words;  historical linguistics that traces the change in languages; evolutionary linguistics that explains the origins and history of the development of language.

And there is a fascinating study within linguistics called sociolinguistics which studies the social (and somewhat the psychological) impact of words. And that is what we are concerned about in the Voices Education Words and Violence Curriculum. Within that field are many sub-fields and a couple that we might be interested in exploring are: the linguistics of sensationalism and prejudice.

There is a language of nuances (the subtle hints of something) within the construction and use of words to convey meaning that just might have an inherent tone designed to manipulate the reader or listener.

That manipulation can be as subtle as a subliminal phrase designed to “get to you” in a certain way and invoke your emotion and motivate your behavior to the blatant use of propaganda to change the mind of a person, nation, culture or plant something in the collective psyche.

Would you be interested in how you are deliberately manipulated through the use of linguistics? Well, I have found some American professors who are experts in the field. And I have invited them to become part of the Words and Violence project. They are excited and very interested in sharing their knowledge and teaching you about how language is used to manipulate you. Are you interested?

I find this whole thing about words fascinating and enlightening, maddening and titillating. I want to know how this manipulation stuff works because I want to become and be my own person who makes informed decisions based on how I make up my mind, not how somebody else makes it up for me. I want to take full responsibility for my decisions and opinions and I don’t want them manipulated. How about you? I want to use my voice to be powerful and to keep my power home where it belongs. I want to take back my power! Now that’s really sexy.


  1. Kim said . . .

    Hi Barbara. I am interested as well. As obvious as it sounds, I feel that this is only the beginning with what has been published so far in the curriculum. Thank you for your work in bringing us this knowledge. It is very much appreciated and needed. I am inspired and want to help.

    Posted September 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  2. Dalia said . . .

    This means to closely examine the system that has grown where one is dependent upon established patterns or makes decisions based on, or influenced by, what others think. It might be what the advertising and media dictates is “proper.” It may already be deeply rooted in the subconscious. Without realizing it, we might be educating our children under these rules of absolutes instead of encouraging choices. I have had enough and from now on I’m not going to be “handled.” I decide by myself what to buy including printed slander and manipulation of information for or against something or someone. It’s a good start.

    Posted September 19, 2010 at 5:17 am | Permalink
  3. Anne UK said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara,
    I just have to say, my goodness how I can see that you are most assuredly in love with words. You have a God given gift when it comes to writing. Words with meaning just flow from you. They flow and fill our minds and have the ability to make us all think deeply but they are not words of manipulation; they are words of motivation and encouragement to see the bigger picture. You make me think and feel for myself. I along with many others eagerly look forward to your next piece of writing all the time. It is the first time I have encountered this in the non fiction genre. I would be interested in finding out how I am being manipulated by words. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Love Anne, UK x

    Posted September 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  4. Francesca said . . .

    I would love to help you as well… tell me if there is anything I could do for you from Italy, where I live now.
    Thanks so much

    Posted September 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  5. Nicole P-H said . . .

    For sure, Barbara, I am definitely interested. I feel that this is only the beginning of our common work in the service of Humanity, Light and Love. Namaste, Nicole

    Posted September 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  6. lmat said . . .

    I am very interested in learning how manipulation is used in language. I know there are studies about subliminal messages in images and pictures and it would be a natural extension that it occurs also in the spoken or written word. It is uncomfortable to realize that my own interpretation of events or people or anything, really, can be molded into what someone else may choose for me. I prefer to possess the knowledge and sensitivity to be able to recognize and decipher those subtle nuances in language that have the capability to affect my thinking, and therefore my feelings and outlook on the world around me.

    Posted September 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  7. Niamh said . . .

    Barbara, I am very excited to see what this brings; as a grad student in linguistics I think about language every second of every day. I can’t wait to learn more. Thank you again for all your work.

    Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink
  8. gertrude said . . .

    First Barbara I would like to give a long overdue thanks to you for your attention to me not having access to the words and violence curriculum. Voices Education emailed me and I am now in. Secondly, from reading your writings my mind increasingly considers the might and effect of words. Your efforts here have been a GAIN, not just for me but I’m sure for all who luckily find them. You come from the light and you illuminate. Wonderful luck for us.

    Posted October 16, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

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