Thursday, November 1, 2012

Society is into Semantic S&M

I like how we (and yes, the cultural "we") use some of the same terms for sex/sexuality as for violence/negativity.  Some examples:

  • I'm gonna fuck you/I'm gonna fuck you up,
  • hit/hit that,
  • spanking
  • jerking off/jerking around
  • banging
I personally think it is all because of guilt on a very acute and subconscious level, which manifests itself is us in very interesting ways.  One of those ways is through semantic ambiguity.

Depending on how you wish to use the term, the syntax changes to provide the context for your listener/reader to understand which definition you are using.

Ambiguity is an interesting topic.  I am studying semantics/pragmatics in two of my classes and my other course is all about defining literacy in different contexts and showing how it has varied across space and time.  Not to mention the fact that ambiguity is essential in most literature.  Or at least the mask of ambiguity.  There is a certain amount of ambiguity inherent in all of us, due to the different faces we where depending upon whose company we are in (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Deal with it, Brainiac).

Each (social) group develops its own dialect over time.  It's inevitable.  We all rub off on one another, and how we speak and write is affected according to who with we are trying to communicate.  We are all literate in multiple dialects.

Anyway, we call it slang, and I think slang is a dialect in development.  When a new usage (of a word, of punctuation, of grammar) becomes standard among a group, it always follows some kind of logic that works with the overall universal grammar, which is made up of symbols which we develop psychologically.

Anyway, that is what some people believe, and I am leaning towards at this point, unless someone comes up with a more viable theory, but this one is at least based on science on some level.

Studying the language makes studying literature that much more interesting, too, because it allows me to actually get into the writing process and to think about the choices that the writer must have made.  It really breaks it all apart on a foundational level.  Hopefully it makes me a better writer, too.

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