“Nowadays One Can’t Say Anything!”

Or: What do I actually want to say?

Correctly gendered text, inclusive language, racism, feminism — it’s not often that emotions run so high, and become so stuck. Language affects us — it moves our thinking, our innermost being, and our freedom. It reveals who we are. It shows, explicitly or implicitly, what we think, who we think about, and what beliefs frame our thinking. Language is our common identity, anchored in the individual. These days, it’s no longer clear what the common denominator behind language is. Despite the persistence and power of habit, the cultural self-understanding in the Western world has cracks in it. Not only are spiritual thresholds being crossed, but earthly boundaries have also become blurrier. Economic interests have bound our destinies and put us at each other’s mercy. Capitalism and mechanization have carved corridors through what used to be communities: for people, collective undertakings, and information. Where capital and technology are strong, linguistic-cultural mixing is high, and the borders of nations seem increasingly artificial. If the language debate feels like a battle of beliefs, it is because language is something to hold onto in a blurred world. From this vantage point, the rage shown when questioning the boundaries of what, or rather who, language encompasses, is illuminated. We don’t want to stutter, because those who stutter come across as insecure and perhaps incompetent. However, in all the outrage, the real threshold at which we stand is usually overlooked. The question for all of us is not about guilt or the function of language. It’s not about technical linguistic solutions, but rather about empathic healing. I shouldn’t need to ask myself, “What am I allowed to say?” I should want to ask myself rather, “How I can understand you?” There is a seed in that thought. Let’s stutter our way free!

Translation Eliza Rozeboom
Photo Jacek Dylag

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Letzte Kommentare