Month: February 2020

Observations (Blog)

Plastic language

Our language has become a plastic product. I do not want to say anything to the detriment of plastic, but plastic is for daily use. What is used on a daily base must be manageable. The language we use is an instrument in our hands and we shape it ourselves at will. It is our construction. We are the ones who “frame” language.

It is the language of the store and of the company. In the store and in the company you have to be able to point at things and what you can point at is what you mean. What does not fall under this category does not exist. What you cannot point down is not there. It is therefore customary in society to speak in the indicative form, the indicative. I need that hammer. I want to buy that coat. It is also possible to say: I like that! But that is about it.

Yet that is not enough even in the store and in the company. There too people have to rise above the flat surface. You can also be touched or be addressed by something. Then something poetic creeps into the language used. Not only are you the one doing things, but things “do something with you” as well. Do these kinds of “things” that do something with us, really exist? We do not only live, but we are also lived, by powers that appeal to us, by faces and values ​​that we cherish. Names and words that are of a bigger format than we.

The words also grow bigger at the occasion of great events. You will find that in titles of address, in solemn terms and big names. “Do you take as your wife…” and so forth: A just society! A sacred call! Promises! “In the name of …”; … yes of what, of the law, of a higher power, the name above all name …Love, suffering, mercy… With the use of bigger words somehow we enter the realm of religion and religious discourse. Because now words are no longer our instruments, but the one who pronounces these words becomes the instrument of the words pronounced. You are no longer at the center. You are no longer the one who moves, but you are moved.

But for daily use we also need relaxation. Everyday language needs flattened words. To love your work – that expression is just fine, but you are not married to your work. In a company, we speak of involvement or connection instead. In fact, we also mean that we care about our employees or colleagues , but Love is too big a word in that context. The theme of this website is the tension between the daily language (where there is little tension) and the big words that occupy our whole lives. The intention is for big words to descend and daily words to become somewhat more elevated and for them to meet halfway. The adage of the Benedictines was “ora et labora”, pray and work. The little things that return every day must be dealt with in the light of the big names and words (or values) we ultimately live for. Only then will religious words not become empty and the daily language not become flat.

Posted by Otto Kroesen, 0 comments