The Importance and Effects of Language to Humanity

From a very early age we are taught that language is precious and important. Many philosophers, anthropologists, archeologists, and historians, will insist t hat the human ability for language is what truly sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom We see every day how language is used to create; it is used to create the fantastical worlds of fiction we give to our children, to share our innermost feelings, and to explain how to build a house or a car or a toaster oven.

But while language can be used to create, it can also be used to destroy and harm. Dri Haig Bosmajian warns against these dangers in his essay, “Dehumanizing People and Emphasizing War.” Dr. Bosmajian explains that while language is what makes us human, it can be used to dehumanize others and make truly cruel and bloody acts against them seem glorious and heroic This side of language is seen throughout history in Kings, Generals and other leaders who persuade their subjects to commit inhuman and monstrous actst.

While language is the basis for our perception of the world, and creates our identity as human beings, it can be used to take that identity away and desensitize us to the pain we cause others, unless we are aware of how language is affecting us, Language is the go-between for humanity and the world around us. We use words to make the world reaL If one man sees a rock formation, that rock formation is real to him, but he uses language to make it real to those who didn’t see it.

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We put so much faith in words. I can say that I know that matter is made up of different atoms from the Periodic Table of Elements, but I only know this because I have been told. Our view of the entire world, of all of existence is there because we have been told about it. So language holds great sway over us, more so than the physical world even, because language creates the physical world for us. Language creates our human images.

Our personality, our beliefs, and our little quirks are all conveyed with language. 50 if language can create our image, it can be used to destroy it, Throughout history humans have committed horribly violent acts against each other, yet the perpetrators, who we would think to be sociopathic monsters, have been able to have caring and loving human interactions. Hitler, one of the most hated and despised leaders in our history books, had gentle interactions with friends and colleagues, He even became an uncle of sorts to two children of one of his generals This did not make him a good man, but it does illustrate how individuals can view other groups of people as less than human, while still treating their own with respect. Hitler viewed the Jews (and many other groups of people) as inferior, and he was able to make much of the German population to feel the same way. Those in a position of power have to use these tactics during any war, even ones that are remembered as just.

This is because there is no other way that soldiers would be able to take the lives of so many human beings, and for the citizens of a country at war not to feel affected by the deaths of so many at their country’s hands. When we hear of the death of a complete stranger, most of us are barely affected, while the death of a close friend can have us grieving and stricken with powerful emotions for weeks or months This is because the more we interact with someone the more we appreciate and value him as equals The leaders of countries at war use this to their advantage in regards to their enemies. If they only introduce negative images of their enemies, that don’t depict them as equals deserving of rights, then few will object to their deaths.

In World War I, the U.S, military put out recruitment posters showing a German soldier, depicted as a large gorilla, being subdued by three handsome U.S.A. army men. The soldiers who had joined the army with images similar to this in their mind would never have an issue killing the enemy German soldiers, as they would never see them as fully human These dehumanizing techniques have been used in one form of another during every major conflict in human history In the modern age, however, communication technology allows those in a position to speak with the masses to use these techniques on anyone who is listening No one is really sheltered from dehumanizing images and words, In the case of the Iraq War over the last six years, the main image of the Iraqis given to the American people was that of a terrorist who wants to destroy Americat Many Americans were swayed by the images of the media and the words of our politicians, and saw the Iraqis as a violent threat, not capable of peace.

This is a great power in the hands of our leaders and the media, even greater than our weapons or our army. The ability for violence is meaningless, if everyone is against these actions. The government would have a difficult time going to war at all. Our weapons are not all that dangerous, but the ability to get countless people to use those weapons is. It is not impossible to avoid being affected by dehumanizing and manipulative language. Being aware that everyone around us, from friends to newscasters on TV, has an effect on us is half the battle, The subtle and sometimes not so subtle messages that can lead people to view certain groups as lesser beings are almost never realized in an epiphany It is much more subtle than that, so being aware of how language effects us, we can prevent ourselves from buying in to propaganda and dehumanizing language.

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The Importance and Effects of Language to Humanity. (2022, Oct 22). Retrieved from

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