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Words Have Unimaginable Power to Help, Dehumanize or Destroy
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Monday, October 23, 2023


The language we use and the words we select to characterize others should be of great concern to all of us.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Words have the power to inspire, to offer hope where there seems to be little, to raise us up, or to inflict incredible pain; all words await our use. When we make decisions about words and our language, there may be an element of emotional turmoil, an altruistic component, or one where we wish to vanquish an “enemy” we perceive.

Unfortunately, too many choose to use words unwisely, and once released, they are like the genie that can never be put back into the bottle. While dabbling in Japanese, I learned how to make a negative comment about someone in the language. But even this word can carry a variety of meanings.

I began to appreciate the wonder of words and how they were extraordinarily adept at providing inordinate knowledge with a great economy of expression. My first experience was when I satisfied my curiosity to study Japanese with a wonderful program (Power Japanese) that is no longer available, or, if you can find it, operating systems will no longer recognize it, and the latest version doesn’t measure up to the former. A word to the publisher: Get the original, correct the code, and offer the original program again. You had a winner.

Not only did the DVD show me how to form the primary five strokes for making words, but a book accompanying it explained the grammar and manga and how it conveyed so much with so little. An incredible amount of information was assumed to be shared between people, and, quickly, they both understood something. There was no excess verbiage, just straight to the point, with the knowledge that there was a mutual understanding. I was blown away.

As a college student, I was fortunate to have a professor who made it a point to illustrate the number of words that the native peoples of Alaska had for snow. In English, we might have three (flakes, hail, or flurries), but when snow and its characteristics are essential to life, you need to know many more words, and, by some counts, it could number 50. Did you know there’s an encyclopedia of snow? Take a look at it.

Language can be short and somewhat cryptic, and a single word can be used to dehumanize, demean, and mark others as inferior. Consider all the slang expressions you may have heard, and then think about the language of war, where the enemy must be seen as sub-human, so there’s a new term for them. It sticks. I’m not going to repeat them here, but you can easily research these words.

When immigrants came to the US in droves around the end of the 19th century, the slurs were heard, repeated, and stuck. These words had the power to make others seem like underlings, inferiors, or not worthy of respect. This, then, gives permission to those who use these words when referring to a group to abuse the “others” and treat them in ways utterly unacceptable in “polite society.”

How can anyone defeat this ugliness? It can be deflated by taking it and making it your own. We hear AA Blacks using the “n” word among themselves in many ways; none of the words then are anything but collegial or amusing. No bias here. The same is true with words used for people of different sexual orientations.

Words can inflame or bring conditions to an orderly peace; we choose them accordingly. To disregard the potency of the ones we use or fail to fully appreciate their inherent power is an act of ignorance or malice, and who wants to be seen either way?

Choose wisely and remember that, sometimes, the best action is to remain silent. I recall a man who holds a very important position in sports telling someone, “Whenever possible, keep your mouth shut.”

Website: www.drfarrell.net

Author's page: http://amzn.to/2rVYB0J

Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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