• Justin O

On Dictionaries 

I despise dictionaries. Like literally I would prefer if we had them banned. It's a pretty wacky opinion. I understand that for 99.9 percent of you a dictionary holds zero importance in your life. And why would it? Language is a very subjective thing. I would argue that most people never consult a dictionary anymore. And if they do, it's likely through a Google search. But this is why I hate them so much. It is a tool trying to dictate proper speech. It's just another way for elites to hold power over us. And I ain't about it. I got this idea after reading an essay by David Foster Wallace entitled "Tense Present". It's main thesis discusses who decides what to put in dictionaries, how it is racially biased, and how it dictates "political correctness". A must read in my opinion. And it's pretty on point too. But I want to go a little deeper here. Dictionaries are tools of the bourgeoisie to hold their position of power in society. More, it's an Orwellian mind control tactic. Language gives meaning. And dictating how we use language dictates how we ought to live. Jordan Peterson might be barking up a tree that directly harms trans folks, but he is right to be concerned about governments' dictating how we speak. I won't get too much into this because I don't really agree with him on that subject but I think we definitely need to stop and think about language and how important it really is. When you speak and/or write something you are essentially creating meaning. Because meaning doesn't exist inside your head. It needs to be delivered to someone else who needs to consume it. So when a dictionary dictates how we should speak/write, it's essentially telling us how to think and be. I know this sounds a bit weird but hear me out. Language is context driven. Wittgenstein explains this way better than I ever could. Meaning is created via language which is created via the context in which the language is used in. As an example, the slang you use only makes sense in the context of the community or society in which it is used in. A dictionary aims to create a universal understanding of language. And therefore, it aims to create a universal way of thinking. It's essentially a guide on how to be an obedient member of society. Talk about group think 101. I think about things like this so you don't have to. And like I started off saying, nobody really cares about what the dictionary says. But at the same time, when academia uses this as a basis for understanding "proper" language, I wonder if some of us are falling prey to this subtle but extremely effective indoctrination. Just something to think about. #philosophy #language #academia

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