This is an interesting goal. Thank you for putting it forward.
Waylon Flinn
21

From a purely linguistic sense, the evolution of languages has consistently been driven by the mix of languages, dialects, colloquialisms, etc. coming together to create a mutually understood meaning. While there are some examples of a top down approach (Esperanto being a great one), even those examples tend to prove that languages can’t be created, they are born. This does cross apply, but when talking about meanings and a lexicon viewed from the context of cultural tensions, things become more complicated. Then you have languages hidden inside of languages. Even the same words can have vastly different meanings depending on context. There is a lot of ink on the page when it comes to Reclamation Theory and language to empower, the attempt to codify “sublanguages” trust me, not my term, such as Ebonics (don’t even get me started) and AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). Code Switching and cultural appropriation, or to keep it really on topic, the very thing that Trump has capitalized on best, Political Correctness. Our cultural language is made up as much by who we are speaking to (code switching) and what we aren’t saying (political incorrectness etc) as what we are saying. Don’t get me wrong, there is still evolution. If you look at the cultural language of this country in the last century, many of the overt tensions have eased. There has always been an immigrant class… a group used, on the one hand, for cheap labor and sub-human tasks / working conditions… a group feared and misunderstood by the citizenry. There has always been a language (verbal and non verbal) surrounding this class. As the immigrant class becomes citizenry and a new immigrant class takes its place, that language shifts with the change… to a degree. Closer examination suggests the change is not as big as it seems, however. In many places, prior immigrant classes are currently living largely segregated. Chicago, New York, San Francisco… one of the ways Trump is able to tap into the “working class” fear that immigrants are taking their jobs is because only a couple of generations ago, the same was being said of their grandparents. It is easy to make people fear being “replaced”. Taps into a primal fear that goes beyond surface meanings. The same has proven true of religions previously feared (the Jewish surge in immigration faced mass discrimination, fear based stereotypes, hate crimes… many Jewish families changed their last names in order to Anglicize in order to escape persecution). It has always been worse for certain groups, those groups who couldn’t assimilate through a name changes, through blending in, intermarriage, adding their voice to the collective. Asian Americans, Latin Americans, the many who have come to this country to flee revolution in Iran and other parts of the Middle East. Humans are very visual, and in being confronted with the visual cues of “otherness”, there is a primal fear response that is only overcome with the realization that the otherness is perceived rather than based in truth. Unfortunately (and no, I am not claiming Trump has the right end of any stick), politically correct language and behavior does nothing when it shields both sides from reaching understanding. There is no excuse for hate speech or the exploitation of people’s fears, but in more cases than that, politically correct language stands like a wall between groups. Just because social constraints stop people from using the offensive terms for several different racial, religious, etc., groups doesn’t mean people feel any different or understand those groups. It is THAT right there that leaves people so susceptible to appeals to fear and anger… the offer to open up that valve of tension. This got a lot longer than I wanted it to. It is a complex issue, and while there is an evolution, America is barely out of it’s infancy when viewed in context of the world’s nations. Looking to other regions, that evolution has taken over a thousand years with little “positive” change to be found. That is the thing about evolution. We all have ideas, hopes for the future of the country we live in… but no one can control evolution, and attempts to often bring about even worse than the truth we all fear.

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