Standardization of Language As Psychological Weaponry

A few years ago, maybe four or five, I read an update by a semi-slightly popular blogger. Her update, like much of her work, was a complaint about US Blacks. Her particular peeve this time centered usage of “born day” instead of “birthday”, and “overstand” as opposed to “understand”.

My own personal usage stems in part from Five Percenter influences and culture jamming. “Culture jamming” is probably most associated with satirical designs created by anti-consumerist organization Adbusters. I am using it to mean a ‘deviation from custom as a means to establish new form.’ 

As a US Black person, it can be difficult to establish authentic voice outside of institutions of higher learning or performance arts. Without a particular brand of notoriety or celebrity, we frown on vernacular, especially vernacular developed specifically to counter mainstream norms. Any usage of language that does not appease sensibilities of an academic peer review or that cannot attract large sums of money only sustains opprobrium. 

This implies two lines of thought. Obviously, this allows a certain privilege of language to Whyte writers and thinkers. What is not so obvious is that this same privileging of language allows Blacks with proximity to Whyteness via institutional positioning advantage over cultural representation. However, if this representation must rely on established Whyte authority and approval, just how authentic can it be? Are all forms of US Black culture with counterculture purposes subject to these same stigmas of illegitimacy? Why is license to alter and adapt English language only acceptable when commercially viable or academically approved?

Language is more than symbol sets organized for communication, spoken or written. Language is also extension of political ideology. It aids in militarizing psychological space by othering those not socialized in deploying particular patterns or syntax. Its construction provides persistent means for channeling desires for socio-economic stratification — or genocide. It codifies ignorance as inability due to natural capability as opposed to cultural distance. There maybe no better transport of hegemony than language.

Hegemony is a power construction. As a power construction in a capitalist society, that should suggest to you that it also has market value, market relations, and market pressure. Language conveys not only signals of our class, it works as a branding mechanism that dog whistles our value and station in a market.