Friday, 30 August 2013

The Power of Language

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After over five weeks of being a part of this new social network, StumbleUpon, I have found myself using it more frequently to the point where I will spend considerable amount of time just 'stumbling' through websites. Because of this I have plenty of time to observe and contemplate the various sites I encounter. Most specifically I was able to look at how langauge imapcts or changes the perceptions of the subject being discussed on the website.

Van Luyn (2013) explained that myths in some cultures represent an ontology which is a systematic theory of explaining and making sense of and ordering life and the universe. An example I found whilst on StumbleUpon was a website called Myths Retold which was dedicated to retelling creation myths (ontologies) of civilisations and cultures. The specific example that I found while 'stumbling' was of a retelling of the Norse Mythology.(Warning: There is coarse language used)

"Myths have this power to an outstanding degree because they are not just any story but are foundational stories that provide support and glimmers of understanding for the basic institutions of society; at the same time, myths, by weaving in observable features in the landscape (a tree here, a rock there), strengthen a people's bond to place."
(Tuan, 199, pp.686) 
What I found with this 'retelling' was that because a langauge different to the expected langauge was used, it takes away the power of the myth as an ontology and making it more of a parody or a joke. The type of langauge used is very coarse and crude, and involves excessive amounts of hyperbole and ridicule of the main concepts. Tuan (1991, pp.693) states, in relation to language, that "if people have the power to build, they also have the power to destroy, and on the whole, it is easier to destroy than to build". By using language with specifically chosen words it has the power to destroy or tarnish.

Until next time,


Tuan, Y. (1991). Language and the Making of Place: A Narrative-Descriptive Approach. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 81(4) pp. 684-696. Taylor & Francis, LTD

Van Luyn, A. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 5: Stories and Places. Week 5 Notes [Powerpoint] Retrieved from

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Harris, J. (2013) Language. Retrieved from:

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