Sunday, December 19, 2010

the other side of propaganda. feminism. espo.

D - just finished Journey into Russia by Post.
Set in the 60's Soviet era.

He was shocked by how brainwashed the masses were about America.

He quoted General Gunther.
That he thought "damned English" was just one word for the longest time.

Then Post mentioned the adjective-noun or noun-noun compound nouns (not noun phrases) that were invariably invoked by Soviets.
War-mongering imperialists.
Heroic labour.
And so on.

The term war-mongering ... labour, or Soviets, et al would make no sense.
When the two words together make sense, but apart do not, I'd argue that we might as well have them portrayed as a single concept.
heroic-labour. heroiclabour.

D - why is this interesting?
It is the opposite of the type of propaganda that Noam Chomsky discusses.
He spoke of high-level single word abstracts muddying the waters of clear thought.
E.g. democracy. Versus 'popular representation'.
What we see in Rush's passage is the opposite. By connecting 2 or 3 terms into a compound noun, we find that the potential nuance and diversity those words ought to be able to portray is lost.
E.g. cowardly labour.
E.g. pacifistic imperialism.

I took liberal arts in the 90s - the heyday of political correctness.
I have remained highly sensitive to feminism and its attempt to control language.

A noun phrase stands in place any number of complex and nuanced issues.
The wage gap.
Male violence.
Though to be fair to C, equality is one of the most over-used and least helpful terms.
It reminds me of online lingo. Free... as in beer?

I see a billboard on the way to work each day. For December - the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre - somebody put up an awareness ad.
It talked about how men weren't getting involved enough.
Which seems terribly rich, given that they have been excluded from any number of memorial events and feminist locations, such as Womyn Centres on campuses.
Anyway, let's break down the term "male violence".
My observation about the importance of a brief and powerful preposition system, likely derived from the Somali system, for CVN applies here.

Male violence. Noun noun. (This will resemble my example of space man earlier.)
Here, converting them into phrases with prepositions is useful.
Violence ... for males. By males? To males? From males? With?
Inter or intra male violence? To males, to non-males?
Contrast with black violence, that would raise hackles.
In Toronto right now, it would likely be interpreted as concern for black victims of homicide. The Sun is terribly upset that they are dying in droves.
Most of the killers are also black. So black violence as a term could potentially be applied to the offender versus victim quality. But that would not be P-C.
Or female violence, which would get shoe-horned into woman-as-victim format, though the structure is identical to the opposite implication for male.

So let us revisit the terms again, with the idea of embedded prepositions or perhaps a prefix to denote more nuance.
Male violence. Intra-male. Inter-male. Inter - to males? by males?
After all the term could logically be as much a reference to how males are the main victims of violence. Also, of course, perpetrators. That's OK to say about males -just one gender mind you. Again, if we swap out gender for race (at least some), we have the opposite inferred meaning and an entirely different meme script kicks in.

I mention the wage gap since I posted a fairly minor FaceBook entry on it once.
36 hours later, and 100 posts of flame-war nature, mutual friends were calling each other Nazis and suggesting the other side supported genocide. Really. It was surreal.

Something we learned in university was the idea of operationalizing terms.
What do we mean by that? How do we measure it?
Qualify, quantify.
Of course, with propaganda of any type, this attempt at intelligent discussion will be still-born.
The discussion is not allowed to progress that far.

Male violence. Female violence?
BTW - male doesn't even denote just human. Male dogs? Cats?
Men? Boys too?
White violence? Black?
How about Christian violence? Islamic?
Straight? Gay? Bi? The list goes on.

I'd love if somebody would make a study showing tacit assumptions by subjects when these various terms are used.

My language design CVN will include very brief indicators of prefix (inter, intra) and prepositional (by, to) nature.


And Espo's failure! I spent a coupla minutes trying to find the word 'belsono'.
Gradually, I realized I should not look for belson-. Though there was no way for me to know that until I knew both bel- and son- for pretty and sound respectively. I only knew one at that point.
Similarly, syllable forms such as CCV and VCC are permitted.
So if we have 2 adjacent syllables of CVC CVC construction,
we have no way to tell if we are looking at:
1) CVCC VC or
2) CV CCVC or
Though particular phoneme sequences may constrain this sometimes.
Point is, we're looking at the result of a mechanistic, mindless, 'clockwork morphology' loosely based on natural language.
I'd be wise to heed my own advice. The presence of both long and short vowels in CVN will result in EFLers trying to apply English-only rules to both pronunciation and stress.

Espo correlatives.

What kind -kia. Tia.
What place - kie. Tie.

D - yet the -a ending means adjective (-ly).
And -e ending means adverb! (-ily).
So kind ... adjective.
But place ... adverb!
Point is, Dr. Z did not think through this too far.
This dual use of certain endings (and word combos in other cases) is bound to trip up
those who are not fluent.
Given that the language tries to sell itself on being user-friendly, this is a serious indictment.

Instead, Espo could have more methodically used endings.
E.g. -a -e,i,o,u always meaning the same thing.
Ditto -an -en -in.
And for that matter -a, -an, -am, -ang.
Voila. And we get... CVN!


Dino Snider said...

Er. My roomie pointed out that male in male violence becomes an adjective. Ahem. Yes.
Just woke up...

Dino Snider said...

I've been annoyed for years by the following. Newspapers happily refer to gunman when the killer is still unknown. But won't use fireman when the firefighter is clearly male. One can say 'man' instead of 'person' or other more precise descriptor, but only in cases of a negative stereotype. Precision should be the goal. So male firefighter. Or female. Gun...fighter? Shooter?
In some respects, the demise of the -ess ending is unfortunate. Firefight...esse? Actor, actress.

Dino Snider said...

One more thing. Male-on-male violence does not get contextualized as a sign of their victimhood. Male offenders are offered as proof of their violent nature. Male victims do not get evaluated as a sign of their being oppressed. Now use some swap-out with a number of other racial/sexual/orientation/et al words. The cultural script we invoke changes in each case. I am sure the issue is more complex than that- but it should need to be discussed. Not taken for granted.