Romanian has an expression that can be literally translated in English as wooden language. I am not sure about the equivalent in English, but this wooden language represents the words, sentences and phrases used in official/professional environments in order to express standard ideas or qualities using key concepts (such as the “turning any obstacle into an opportunity”, or even professional jargon when talking about notion blocks inserted into every-day or official conversation.
This wooden language is very common. Even though it may take different forms, according to each context and political, social and/or religious situation, it can reach a point of crisis: when it’s emptied of its original – positive? – sense, like a fly is empty after the spider has feasted with its insides.
This type of language can be particularly dangerous when it’s repetition is pushed towards the subconscious. That is, when it’s more than just background noise, it is a message that is being transmitted on invisible waves. In any case, this becomes something like radio waves: we don’t see them, but we are perfectly aware of their existence and effect. In other words, the worst threat is the one that you don’t even know of.
One of the most common standardized wooden language (in the West, at least) is the one related to political correctness and with anything that deals with or contains the word “sustainable.” The expressions were created to replace other notions that are now considered rude or insulting (such as fat, short, skinny, etc.), but have already surpassed their original positive intention and have become utterly ridiculous. I am not saying political correctness is ridiculous, I am referring strictly to the terms used.
Human beings are a very interesting species. We like to think we’re individuals, but the things we are most proud is our association with external entities (from bands to companies) and our very original ideas were planted in our heads through different methods. Such methods include as diverse sources as: repetition in school lessons, commercials, movies, music. From this point on, the notions are somewhere we can’t see, but every time we are confronted with a situation similar or identical to our trigger, the bomb sets off out of nowhere.
So… Wooden or golden, language can be quite tricky, especially when trying to express something original, or when trying (and succeeding) to brainwash somebody by means of word-repetition.
- Chaput’s first sermon focuses on forgiveness (philly.com)
- Ricky Gervais and ‘mong’: if it’s politically correct to think it’s bullying, then I’m politically correct (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Politically correct, to the EXTREME! (dawnsdorkydiary.wordpress.com)
- Politically Correct (survivingmiddleage.wordpress.com)
- Political correctness or cowardice? (charioteers.org)
- Politically Correct Definition – African American View (Videos) (culturalhealth.blogspot.com)
- I certainly want to be politically correct and not be against serving beer in Tiger Stadium…. (everydayshouldbesaturday.com)
- A low-tech school in the heart of Silicon Valley (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Outgoing Palestinian diplomat regrets controversial tweet (canada.com)
- Inuktitut-language Blocks a Hit in Nunavut (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute (nytimes.com)