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Becoming Responsible Communicators Before we are born we can hear the sounds of language As infants we hear language as meaningless sounds projected from our parents mouths When we realize that one simple word can make our mothers respond we experience the power of words that can be helpful in communicating Sometimes this power is abused Haig A Bosmajian a professor of Parliamentary Procedure Rhetoric and Freedom of Speech at the University of Washington uses many examples in his essay The Language of Oppression to demonstrate the use of language and naming to aid in the oppression and dehumanization of others Our names specify who we are and we feel demoralized and resentful when we are called by unpleasant names or placed in other categories Unfortunately some individuals like to use the power of naming to gain an advantage over their enemies by damaging others confidence in who they are Bosmajian uses an example from Lewis Carrolls Through the Looking Glass to illustrate ones attachment to his or her name In The Looking Glass Alice says I shouldnt like to lose my name at all - because theyd have to give me another and it would almost be certain to be an ugly one Alice is apparently fond of her own name and after always being known as Alice a different name would change her life drastically especially if it was one she didnt like There is also proof in Bosmajians essay of the oppressive language used by the Nazis in their attempt to justify the extermination of the Jews The government reduced the diversity of Jewish names to only two forcing men to take one name and women the other In addition they redefined human beings as parasites and diseases These language changes creates psychological and social effects making it possible to enforce a social policy of separating Jewish people from the rest of the public and making them appear frightening and inferior to
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