One of my favourite writers is our ex Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. From Che Det.com, an article entitled Khairy’s Dilemma portrays how creative this man is with languages without compromising the value of the message he conveys.
Tun’s wit of bringing satire into his political writings and speeches is indisputable. He would always manage to write about something without being charged or indicted. His brilliant linguistic aptitude reminds me of the power of words. I recall that Linguistics is one of the various significant mechanisms in the spread ideas besides symbology, iconography and others.
According to The Free Dictionary, Linguistics is the “The study of the nature, structure, and variation of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics”.
The first attempt of mental association with reality made by man is illustrated in the Quran where Prophet Adam was instructed by Allah to name the things in front of the angels;
“And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful.” (2:31)
This ayah basically shows how the human brain works with words. When a word is projected and certain values are instilled with that word through education or socialization, it conjures an image in a person’s mind. By understanding how a person or society value something in terms of Linguistics or Iconography, we can identify how people are gullible enough to be manipulated by certain powerful entities.
Each of these detailed perspectives in language play a significant role in influencing people.
Euphemism and Dyphemism
An euphemism is a linguistic technique of giving a nicer description for something that is interpreted as bad or does not sound so good to our ears. For example if someone conveys a message of a person’s death, they may not say “ He died” but instead “ He passed away”.
Dyphemism is a way of expressing something on a more negative tone. In the example illustrated above, a harsher note of death might be uttered as “He dropped dead”.
In propagation of ideas, the idea-setters would manipulate the use of words in conveying their message through the various channels of communication. Who are these idea-setters? They are those who possess the upper hand in a society be it local, national or international. They may be gender, status, economic based or exhibit any other features that may grant them power in group or community.
The use of euphemism by Bush’s administration in handling the September 11th tragedy has been prevalent in the media. They launched the catchphrase “War Against Terrorism” which was to declare that they really wanted to fight those who were responsible for the catastrophe.
When the American government started invading other countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, people then started questioning the ulterior motive that lied behind the strong motto. The identification of terrorists still remains vague. Others assert that terrorists are actually aimed as Muslims. The connotation eventually went out of control and has caused collateral damage not only at the level of international relations but also interfaith relations.
Is this a long term measure of subjugating Islam by a superpower which holds on to the faith of Christianity or Zionism? It begins by portraying Islam in a negative way and influencing others to abhor this sacred religion. The diffusion of ideas that Muslims are extremists and Islam is a religion of violence. Of course, there are various ways of viewing this issue, the agents involved and their main objectives.
Standardizing Language and Values Through Cyberspace
Actually, there are various similar like definitions for the word terrorists. I found a lighter term for terrorists such as rebels and also a positive description for such radical act like freedom fighters that makes it sound rather heroic. Each of these terms do not bring the exact meaning. In fact, even a person’s interpretation of a word differs according to their own background and the values that they hold in their norms. Such differentiation may lead to miscommunication or even war.
The internet is wisely used by the powerful to be able to create a standard interpretation for all people in the global context. Today, the popularity WikiPedia, YouTube, mainstream international news sites and social networks are great tools of mental invasion, control and intelligence work.