In this post, I will be attempting to justify the following questions:
- How can we trust language as a way of knowing when a word’s meaning can change so much over time?
- How can sometimes subtle deviations in the meaning of words exclude others?
- What are the ethical implications with the careless use of this word in a social context?
Will Young talks about the limitations of language itself. How can we trust language as a way of knowing when a word’s meaning can change so much over time? Take the word “gay” for example, how does a word initially mean “carefree and happy” get altered in time to represent a person’s sexual orientation? Teenagers especially, use the word “gay” to represent an idea, or an object as “lame”, they do not take into account the actual orientation of the word. “The movie was gay”- meaning that the movie was stupid, indeed has nothing to do with the idea of homosexuality. What are the ethical implications with the careless use of this word in a social context? Well, if a young person grows up gay, frequently hears the word gay as being used to describe the negative qualities of a person or an object, the child will grow up thinking that they are useless, stupid, (the list goes on). Most of the time, we don’t intend to use the word gay to insult another person, instead we say it so often that the word itself has no meaning. What I am simply trying to say is that how are we going to be able to trust language when the barriers of language and the meaning of words are constantly changing? How do you know that the word “happy” wont mean something else tomorrow?