Language and cultural affordance

A conversation last night got me thinking about the role of language, as something that makes things possible. In particular, the social interactions that become more or less likely depending on the language that we use. The word ‘affordance’ is an interesting example in itself: it’s a word that you’re unlikely to recognize without some pretty specific academic background (it’s a word from evolutionary theory that was adopted by usability engineers for a different purpose). Using it in the headline for this article creates a set of expectations among likely readers (and non readers) of this article.

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