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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology

Language manipulation

Mon, 13 Jul 2020 11:40:00 +0000 Published in Ideal de Almería, Ideal de Jaén, La Rioja, Las Provincias and Diario de Navarra

Education and manipulation are opposing processes. The Education favors the autonomy manager of people; manipulation, on the contrary, is a covert controlling activity that makes people more dependent, more insecure, less free and less self-critical. The Education liberates, while manipulation tames and massifies.

To manipulate a person means to handle him as if he were an object; it is to reduce him to a mere object. A very widespread form of manipulation in the last two centuries is that of language.

The philologist Victor Klemperer (18811960) analyzed the importance of the politicization of words in the imposition of Nazism on German society. He presented numerous examples showing how the choice of certain words or phrases and their continuous repetition became one of the main techniques of manipulation at that time. Ideas that the people considered repulsive were gradually transformed into acceptable concepts.

For Alfonso López Quintás this effect has grown a lot lately: "The strategic use of the spoken and written language has such virtualities that it allows the virtuosos of demagogic expression to simultaneously carry out two opposite tasks: to convince people that they are being promoted to levels of freedom, and to submit them to an implacable domination".

One of the resources of language manipulation are euphemisms. No one can boast of not having been infected by one of them, to the point of considering the adulterated word as the original word or as a synonym of it. I propose to the reader to take a self-examination of this question. I will now mention some of the many euphemisms that have 'crept' into current common parlance.

Deceleration (economic crisis); right to decide (independence); voluntary interruption of pregnancy (abortion); collateral casualties (homicides of innocents in war); legal commando (terrorist not yet discovered by the police); B money (hidden money, not declared to the Treasury); staff adjustment (layoffs); overdrinking (drunk); update of prices (price increase); cessation of business (ruin); temporary cessation of cohabitation (marital separation); work stoppage (strike).

Another manipulative resource are the 'talismanic words'. They exert a fascinating effect on people, inhibiting their critical capacity. In every era there is a nuclear talismanic term. Currently it is "freedom" as liberation, linked to change and progressivism.

The terms "change" and "progress" have a neutral meaning; however, the manipulator opposes them to regression and stagnation.

The manipulation of language is considered by López Quintás as a hidden revolution with serious consequences: among them the inability to think on one's own and the blindness to values, the decrease of creativity and the gregarious spirit.

The media have the possibility of accustoming their readers and listeners to distinguish facts from opinions. Opinions are free, but facts are untouchable; but not all the media always abide by this criterion. It is not surprising, therefore, that Noam Chomsky said that "media manipulation does more damage than the atomic bomb, because it destroys brains".

In order not to be easy victims of language manipulation, we all need preventive advice: to be alert to the manipulator's malicious
malicious resources of the manipulator; to adopt a critical attitude and to ask that every talismanic and/or euphemistic word be qualified; to enliven the love to the truth and to renounce to impose our own ideas (the love to the truth immunizes us in front of the attempts of the manipulators); to learn to think (who knows how to think notices if a word is or is not well employee and recovers the prestigious terms that have been altered or kidnapped: freedom, progress, reform, etc.); to cultivate the true forms of dialogue.

Genuine dialogue attempts to seek the truth and encourage unbiased knowledge , unlike rhetoric and sophistry, which seek to persuade and convince through manipulation of opinion.
The main antidote to manipulation is creativity. Through creative activity we affirm our personality and avoid being part of the mass report.