New Civilization News: All About Linguistics    
 All About Linguistics14 comments
picture4 Sep 2004 @ 11:15, by Richard Carlson

The seeker is that which is being sought.

---The Buddha

A cool breeze,
the grasshopper singing
with all his might

---Issa

By three methods may we learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is bitterest.

---Confucius

Hitler used the greatest artistic minds he could attract to his administration---filmmakers and architects---to build not only platforms and sets on and in which to speak, but to create an entire Reality in which his followers could live. I hate to be obvious and crass with such a comparison, but the Bush Republicans have done exactly the same thing. Art can create reality, and there's nothing wrong with both parties doing it...but it's vital to know it's being done! The President has used television producers at high undersecretary-of-this-and-that posts to present him heroically. Everyone thinks of the aircraft carrier thing, but remember too the Statue of Liberty speech, the Twin Towers site performance, and of course the Thanksgiving turkey. The major portion of the Reagan book Bush uses, it seems, is the acting---although, as a theatre guy of some years, I'm here to tell you it ain't acting, so much as a lifetime of lying experience that's kept George in the American spotlight. So who writes his material and how is it done?

Any hack can write those religio-patriotic slogans, but how Conservatives have done it these past 40 years has taken a bit of genius. You may recall Bill Moyers' Now program a few weeks ago, in which a linguistics professor named George Lakoff appeared for interview. He introduced the notion of "framing," which involves the careful selection of the terms by which you describe an activity or proposal. Notably he used the term "tax relief," which he suggested was the first frame the Bush administration used after appointment to legitimate office by the Supreme Court. The word "relief" there makes you think, without thinking, that taxes are something from which you need rescue---even a doctor's prescription. Death and taxes used to be unavoidable, but neocon science can save us from both. Taxes were reframed completely by constant repetition of the phrase "tax relief," so that it became extremely difficult to propose social programs for the environment or education without giving everyone a headache! :-) The ensuing rewards in tax cuts to the 1% rich became child's play---and the hypnotized throng watched as the cash was handed over. Oops, I shouldn't call them the Rich---they're "jobmakers." Did you catch that reframing recently?

George Lakoff, I just have learned, wrote an essay each night of the Republican convention, in which he described the strategy and overview of the linguistic framework of each evening. It's like a master football coach or experienced general reviewing the campaign on the field after the event. Here's his opening to the final entry, which gives the flavor of the series (below his bio you'll see the clicks for night after night)~~~

"Over the first three nights, the Republican speakers carefully crafted a tri-partite frame for George W. Bush's Thursday acceptance speech:
• Night 1: The Global War of Terror defines our lives and our generation.
• Night 2: With enough discipline, all Americans can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become prosperous. Those girlie men have only themselves to blame.
• Night 3: Kerry is weak, unpatriotic, antimilitary, against national security, without resolve, soft-hearted, confused, and totally unfit to be commander-in-chief.

After Wednesday night's bare-knuckled assaults by Zell Miller and Dick Cheney, the president's speech Thursday was comparatively kinder and gentler."

[link]
Lakoff's latest book is titled Don't Think Of An Elephant.


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14 comments

4 Sep 2004 @ 15:05 by jmarc : you see it all over
terrorists in russia described as "Chechen Rebels", People who saw off the heads of others in Iraq are "Iraqi Freedom Fighters". While a thousand are taken hostage in Russia, and over 200 Children and parents are killed, CNN spends 20 minutes talking about Clinton's Heart surgery and 2 minutes on the Chechen Terrorist baby killers. We've got to cut down that double digit big bounce that the republicans got from their convention after all. Anarchists who burn floats and beat on cops aren't anarchists, they are "democrat activists".Then of course, we don't call Bush a Nazi or a Fascist, we just happen to mention them in the same sentence.
I'm one of those people that believe languages are living breathing things, forever morphing, and there is nothing more boring to me than language purists like Safire, etc. If purists had there way, we'de be reading the Canterbury tales still in middle english, instead of in the words of todays speakers. Discernment is key, i guess.  



4 Sep 2004 @ 20:00 by vaxen : Yes...
I'm sure you'll vote for your Neo Nazi Hero 'G.W. Busche/Pusche' jmarc.
"When Johnney comes marching home again..."
And gives you and your family every dis-ease under the sun that he/she (Jonette) picked up in the DU fields of Iraq and beyond! And, of course, YOU are'nt brain washed. No, No! Not, in the least being "FRAMED!"

"In the frame, people like us are good, and terrorists are just evil. There's no attempt to understand the causes of terrorism, why ordinary kids grow up to become terrorists. Although both McCain and Giuliani took pains to spell out that the bad guys were Islamic fundamentalists, those who had "hijacked a great religion," not ordinary Muslims, they excluded from the frame other kinds of terrorists, such as the Irish Republican Army or Timothy McVeigh.

"McCain and Giuliani spoke of the terrorists as a faceless "they": "They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity" (McCain). It's as if he and Giuliani were referring to a fixed, finite group, "'they' will hear from us," meaning we'll bomb them and then there will be fewer of them. Whether bombing may make it easier for terrorists to recruit new terrorists is not part of the frame. Giuliani invoked Yassir Arafat getting the Peace Prize as a joke, but the larger picture of the Israel-Palestinian experience has to be excluded: the Israelis have been going after the Palestinian terrorists militarily for years and they're just ending up with more and more terrorists, including women and children."

Thankyou jazzolog. You'll get a big wet kiss from the "Skull and Bones" for that one.

GO Bureau 1!

[link]  



4 Sep 2004 @ 20:35 by vaxen : PS:
For those who CAN read, and CAN still think, the following links were given to me by Colonel Karen Kwiatkowsky USAF in lieu of the 'agenda.'

It ca'nt happen here.
[link]

It Can and Is happening here!
[link]

War is a Racket--General Smedley Butler
[link]  



4 Sep 2004 @ 20:44 by E_Johnson @209.178.164.190 : Orwell Rolls in his Grave
Naturally morphing languages are one thing---political spin is something else which, by the way, has nothing to do with naturally morphing languages (why lump the two together?)---BUT blatant Goebbels-like propaganda, Soviet REVISIONISM and TURNING LIES INTO TRUTH are another thing altogether. Which, of course is exactly the author's point. Thank you fot the article, Richard, I'll be circulating it. Have you seen Pappas's documentary, Orwell Rolls in his Grave?

"His two-hour think piece argues that Orwell's concern that "Big Brother" would one day be able to revise history on a daily basis, thanks to a monolithic, government-allied media and an apathetic and forgetful public, has come to pass. In Orwell's nightmare, people "could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality" and would be too uninformed about and uninterested in actual events to notice. Pappas poses a number of provocative questions about the current state of the media: Is there an underlying pattern to the stories that make it into print or onto TV and those that get killed? Has the ever-increasing power of media lobbyists and campaign contributors made it easier for the media to create the truth? Have "official sources" become de facto assignment editors, determining what news is reported? Does the fact that an increasing number of media outlets are owned by fewer conglomerates mean that the public is privy to a limited number of viewpoints on a narrow spectrum of issues? Many of these questions have been posed before, most notably and tirelessly by Noam Chomsky, who literally co-wrote the book (Manufacturing Consent) on the subject. But Pappas gives these important issues up-to-the-minute immediacy by focusing on the way the contentious 2000 presidential election was reported, and how the war in Iraq was pitched and sold [i.e. How did 69% of the American public got the idea that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11.] To say that the conclusions of Pappas and his pundits are grim is an understatement. Packed with more information than can possibly be digested in a single viewing, the film will be a bracing eye-opener to anyone who hasn't considered the full implications of recent Congressional debates advocating further Media deregulation, debates that, unsurprisingly, have been strikingly underreported by mainstream news outlets." — Ken Fox, 8/4/04  



4 Sep 2004 @ 21:52 by jazzolog : Batting Cleanup
allowing Vax' PS to be part of a single comment, allow me to step up to the plate, and say without equivocation that I believe the President of the United States currently running for re-election is a Nazi without doubt. I also assert that, given the proper spin by Karl Rove or any of the others, he would embrace the phrase of National Capitalism and advertise it to the world and universe.  


4 Sep 2004 @ 22:06 by jazzolog : Foul Ball
I know Vax, but I didn't want to go too far. Plus I have a history prof from OU, whose specialty is Nazism, watching my every move---and he doesn't think Bush is quite a Nazi yet. I tell him I think he's soft.  


4 Sep 2004 @ 22:20 by Judy Lawrence @209.178.164.17 : Shame on you
You guys's response to jmarc well though-out comment is really infantile and shows the degree of clinical insanity that exists these days within the left. I guess it stems from the insane jealousy they have for George Bush's overwhelming popularity with the American people.

If you stopped to take a look at the FACTS, you would have realized that Bush is a very good president (like jmarc, I take offence to the juxtaposition with Hitler), unfortunately you have been caught up in the "hate Bush" hype of the left. The left has played partisan politics. Bush reached out to them and they spit in his face. He even worked with Ted Kennedy and then Kennedy turned on Bush and just started making up stories about how Bush planned Iraq from day one.

I don't know much about "linguistic" but I know this:

In 1972...there were 40 democracies in the world.
Today...120.
Freedom is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise.
And this Olympics... there will be two more free nations…
And two fewer terrorist regimes.
With strength, resolve and courage, democracy will triumph over terror.
And, hope will defeat hatred. [link]  



5 Sep 2004 @ 04:22 by vaxen : Incidentally,
Judy, you may be interested to know that America was founded as a Republic not a Democracy! Of course I know that you have been 'led' by the nose, and other parts of your anatomy, to think differently. Facts are facts, though.

However in Post Constitution Amerika you are framed to believe a lot of things that Americas 'framers' would most vehemently deny! Such as the 'sanity' of your lop sided President! Incidentally for your own 'amusement' and revivification I suggest you more thoroughly examine the 'BUSH' family's links to NAZI Germany! Sorry, Judy, the cat is out of the bag and only the staunchest of fools, deceivers, and liars allow for (believe) the words that are given to the Bush admins puppet to double-speak! The onus and the shame is on you.

As for 'left?' I am neither right nor am I left but I am American to the Corps! Semper Fi, little lady, now go study the meaning of the term Black PR.

Linguistics is, of course, a small part of it, so is MASS media, semantics, theatre 101, Psychological Warfare, Psychic Warfare, Bio Electro Chemical Mind Control, and a whole lotta other stuff too.

This is jazzologs space and I refuse to rant on. I am just as fervently against Kerry. You are being played like a violin by the slavemasters and implanters that control your mind and your life. It sho nuff ai'nt George W Bush! Wake up!  



5 Sep 2004 @ 21:19 by E_Johnson @209.179.226.28 : The Olympics and Buh's propaganda

Deja-vu all over again?

I took a look at the link you posted in your comment, so interesting that you mention the Olympics, Judy, and so relevant to the kind of things George Lakoff is talking about in the article above.

The most beloved emblems of the Modern Olympics have ties to Nazi-era propaganda. Did you know that?

"The torch relay, which culminated in Friday's ceremonial lighting of the Flame at the Olympic Stadium, was a creation of Adolf Hitler, who tried to turn the 1936 Berlin Games into a celebration of the Third Reich.

And it was Hitler's Nazi propaganda machine that popularized the five interlocking rings as the symbol of the Games.

Today, both are universally recognized icons of the Olympics. But historians say neither had much, if anything, to do with the Games born centuries ago in ancient Olympia."

I do not think the Games or the spirit of the Olympics should be turned into a tool of partisan politics. Do you?  



6 Sep 2004 @ 00:50 by Quinty @68.9.129.35 : Nazi art and our friend George
Hey Richard -

I feel a little - actually, very - uncomfortable with your saying "Hitler used the greatest artistic minds he could attract to his administration.... " Well, maybe Leni Riefenstahl was a great artist, but certainly the only one he had. And the architectual concoctations of Albert Speer were thoroughly sterile and lifeless reflecting the cold lack of humanity and spirit of the Nazis. The art of the Third Reich was often pornographic as well as lurid in its blatant promotion of Nazi myths and ideals. And all the truly good artists were driven out of Germany, branded as decadent. As well as every decent writer, scientist, professor, intellectual, journalist, or any one else who didn't openly conform.

But I know you weren't in any way implying Hitler's artists were "good." Or that they had any genuine artistic merit. But, rather, that they were effective. And, yes, they created a national mythology which every dicatorship requires. As well as promote the Big Lie. And, yes, Bush and his far right friends have been traipsing in the same neighborhood. The lies are fast and lurid and totally unhinged from any form of reality. This should make us wonder. Those of us trembling on the sidelines are not "Bush haters," as Judy says. We are simply thoroughly appalled at the excesses of this immoral and shameless administration. Does Judy believe their lies? Then, yes, welcome to the Third Reich.

***************************

Yeah Paul, I didn't mean I particularly like or recommend as great art either Speer or Riefenstahl, although their stuff certainly is fascinating in a way for a while. I listened to Bush in person yesterday, and later thought how 2-dimensional everything about him is. Alas, greatness is not always marked by high quality...and sometimes everything about a man who is considered great is a lie.

---Richard  



6 Sep 2004 @ 01:31 by Quinty @68.9.129.35 : Chechnya and Girlie Men
Okay boys and girls. Terrorism is bad, even "evil." No one in his right mind believes in killing children, women, old men, or, for that matter, anyone else, whatever he/she may be. Okay? Can we establish that fundamental groundwork before proceeding? I just don't want you to think because I'm not on your side (the Bushies) that I favor terrorism.

Alright, here in the United States of Amnesia and Ignorance, which we can be, because, after all, we are the Greatest Country in the World - never mind the international statistics which actually make us look rather bad - a new Neocon myth is rising. That the war between Russia and Chechnya is another branch of the "War on Terror."

Never mind that Russia, under the Tsars, conquered the Chechnians and some are still resentful. Never mind that they see the Russians as oppressors. Never mind that under the Soviet Union Chechnians were routinely brutally tortured and that some have not forgotten. And also there was that small matter of the Soviet's ethnic cleansing - all those Chechnians who were forced out of their homes.

I won't claim to take sides in that terrible conflict. But our friends the Neocons have reduced it into one of "good and evil" once again. We must support Putin because he is "fighting terrorism." A simple black and white issue. And yet these maniacs have the gall to criticize Kerry because he wants to be "sensitive" in his approach to terrorism.

Right on, Rumy and Condee and Wolfie and all the rest: fight terrorism by dropping bombs, starting needless wars, blowing people up. In this manner no one will ever suspect you of being "girlie men." Yeah - violence and stupidity: there you have the perfect prescription for the world's problems.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thank you immensely for speaking to this. All those deaths over there and Clinton out of commission seemed like a double-barreled blast.

---Richard  



6 Sep 2004 @ 14:17 by dempstress : Quinty really is
rather good at hitting the key points of the matter, isn't he? And so glad that you've come upon the Inde and the Guardian. Two fundamentally sound publications, even though the Guardian is best, and affectionally, known over here for it's long-standing history of misprints. For a litle light relief try out the Corrections and Clarifications section regularly. Every now and then it throws up a real classic.  


15 Nov 2004 @ 10:00 by jazzolog : Language And Framing Again
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Times
November 15, 2004
EDITORIAL OBSERVER

Why the Democrats Need to Stop Thinking About Elephants
By ADAM COHEN

If George Lakoff had his way, the Kerry campaign would have run a commercial attacking the "baby tax." Dr. Lakoff, a Berkeley linguistics professor and Kerry campaign adviser, wanted to divide the interest on the national debt by the number of Americans born each year. The result, $85,000 per newborn, say, would have been handed to a baby in the form of a bill, and the baby would have started to cry. That, Dr. Lakoff says, "frames" the issue "in a way people can understand."

"Framing" is a hot topic among political junkies and in the blogo-sphere right now, thanks to Dr. Lakoff. In "Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate," his surprise best seller, Dr. Lakoff argues that Republicans have been winning elections because they have been better than Democrats at framing issues - from taxes, to abortion, to national security - in ways that resonate with core American values.

Dr. Lakoff has been stepping out of the classroom lately to lecture everyone from the Senate Democratic caucus to "living wage" advocates on how to use linguistics to craft a more effective message. "Framing" alone won't give the Democrats the White House, or the Senate and House. But Dr. Lakoff's theories offer the Democrats a road map for going forward.

The title "Don't Think of an Elephant!" comes from a classic experiment Dr. Lakoff conducts in Cognitive Science 101. He tells his students not to think of an elephant, and he has yet to find one who has managed it. Thinking about elephants is the frame, and negating it simply reinforces it. This was the problem, he says, with President Richard Nixon's famous declaration, "I am not a crook."

Trying not to think of elephants, Dr. Lakoff suggests, sums up the Democrats' plight. Since Republicans have framed the key issues, Democrats cannot avoid being on the losing side. Take taxes. Republicans have succeeded in framing the issue as "tax relief," a metaphor that presents an affliction, and that predetermines who are the heroes - tax opponents - and villains. Taxes are, of course, necessary even for programs Republicans back, like the military, and simple economics dictates that we cannot keep cutting taxes and maintaining spending forever. But the Democrats are hard-pressed to make these points once the frame is "tax relief."

It is not by accident that "tax relief" presents taxes in moral terms, as a calamity in search of a cure. Values, Dr. Lakoff argues, are the key to framing campaign issues. Democrats have an unfortunate tendency, he says, to see campaigns as product launches, believing that if they roll out a candidate with the best features, or positions on issues, voters will support him. Republicans understand that people vote their identity, not their self-interest - that they seek out candidates whose values appear to match their own.

After the election, pundits made much of the influence of a few "moral" issues, like gay marriage and abortion, on the outcome. But Dr. Lakoff argues that values play an important role in almost every campaign issue. The Republicans' success has been driven in large part, he argues, by their ability to frame less morally charged subjects in terms of core values. He is impressed by a line from President Bush's last State of the Union address: that we do not need a "permission slip" to defend America. It reframed multilateralism, once a widely accepted foreign policy principle, as weakness and national infantilization.

As Dr. Lakoff sees it, Democrats need to start framing issues in terms of their own values, which, he insists, are no less popular with the American people than the Republicans' values. This project will, however, take more than spin and sloganeering. On many subjects, he argues, the Democrats suffer from what he calls "hypocognition" - more simply, a lack of ideas. Republicans have been working for the past 40 years, since the defeat of Barry Goldwater, in well-financed think tanks, on developing conservative ideas that voters will rally around. The Democrats, he says, need to start catching up.

One frame Dr. Lakoff likes, which he believes could become a progressive wedge issue, is "poison-free communities." The Republicans' war on government regulation has left industry increasingly free to spew toxins into the air and water, despite the harm it is doing to the public. Keeping people healthy is a core progressive value, but it is one that many swing voters and Republicans share. Few people want their children poisoned by mercury in the name of a theory about the appropriate size of government.

Framing can also deflect the other side's charges. Dr. Lakoff argues that the Democrats should fight the Republican campaign for "tort reform" by recasting it. Rather than debate over frivolous lawsuits, he says, they should talk about protecting people from law-breaking corporations and negligent doctors. When Republicans talk about greedy trial lawyers, he says, Democrats should talk about - and he really needs a better phrase here- "public protection attorneys."

For all of his good insights, Dr. Lakoff can get a little too caught up in his own frame. His intense focus on language leaves too little room for other attributes of a successful campaign, like a charismatic candidate or a strong field operation. Just as professional campaign managers have given too little thought to his frames and hypocognition, he has a tendency to undervalue what they do. The least compelling part of his book is a commercial he suggests Democrats use on taxes. His script begins, "Taxation is paying your dues, paying your membership fee in America." That quickly reframes the issue to: "Where did I put the remote?"

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
[link]  



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