Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Occupy" and the use of language

To take this one step further, I believe it will be especially important for anyone discussing one of the issues at the heart of "Occupy," the issue of corporate personhood, to be sure they use the right pronouns to distinguish between people and corporations.  There must be a clear distinction in order to take control of the narrative on this issue. To be sure there is no question of the difference between a non living entity, such as a corporation,  and a person; the pronouns "who" and "that" must be used properly. They must not be interchanged as is done so often in common usage, even by those in broadcasting, who should know better. When these pronouns are switched around, the line between humans and inanimate objects becomes less distinct. The use use of "who" implies human-like qualities to the entity described. The last thing anyone who supports the idea of Occupy wants to do is infer that a corporation has "human" qualities. Corporations are always "that," in order to be sure they are never given the status of "human," in these discussions.

Those who speak to others about Occupy need to be on their toes more than ever when they encounter those who may be unsure about, or are hostile toward, the Occupy movement. If they cannot speak properly; cannot put thoughts into coherent, grammatically correct sentences; the people they wish to influence to become supporters of Occupy will dismiss them as idiots. There is a dichotomy in this; at a time when there appears to be derision for intellectuals or so-called "experts," people will still be judged by their ability to speak (and write) properly. It's a fine line, and a hard one to figure out, but I'd guess that you could still use proper grammar and avoid the "high falutin" language that some folks are skeptical of; thereby not getting yourself labeled as one of the expert types that caused the mess.  Becoming aware of and in tune with your "audience" will help you choose the right words.

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