Language pitfalls

Mark Earls writes about the pitfalls of language. In particular he looks at how European languages emphasise objects doing things to other objects. Other languages are much more into processes.

I think one manifestation of this is the word “brand”. Our language treats it like a fixed thing with an independent existence that can have its own mission statement, values etc. I think brands are way more fluid than that. (I’ve talked about this before…)

By coincidence, a few minutes ago I was reading this article about organisational theorist, Saul Alinsky. It makes this point:

The word ‘community’ has a somewhat static.. connotation, something which has boundaries and stability. In contrast, Alinsky’s philosophy.. accords with interactionist, processual, relational modes of conceptualising and analysing society. Organisations and communities are constantly in the process being made, there is a constant engagement in organising and ‘communifying’, through communicative practices.

(Reminds me of the Alan Watts podcast I blogged here.)

Sometimes I get a website in a foreign language and use the Google autotranslate. What I get is a very crude approximation of what the orignal might mean – but it’s clear that a lot of nuance in lost in the translation. I think that’s what happens in some analyses of Web 2.0 – a complex set of human relationships get rendered into a cruder language of transaction…

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