Language Liberation Is Crucial

Language can be a key factor in achieving equal and inclusive relationships. Let me first clarify the following terms, as we have come to use them in RC:

1) Interpreting is the word for oral translation. An interpreter is the person doing this job.

2) Translation is the word for written translation. A translator is the person doing this job.

3) Interpretation (as opposed to interpreting), in our context, does not describe the work of oral translation. It refers to a person’s performance, to his or her interpretation of a test, film, parchment, scroll, play, message, and so on. [Editor’s note: We do still refer to sign language interpretation when oral presentations are translated into sign language for deaf people.]

4) A mother tongue is the first language a person receives in a natural way from her or his environment (mainly via mum* in our societies in which sexism pushes men away from caring). It could also be the person’s own mother’s language. We could describe it as the “father tongue” if (in the case of bilingual people, for instance) it reached someone mainly by means of his or her dad.

When we are speaking about language liberation, we are talking about equal relationships among us. Language liberation is crucial, both outside and within RC.


Equal relationships are important in our RC project because we necessarily need to develop peer relationships (see Guideline A.2 of the 2005 Guidelines for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities) to guarantee everybody’s re-emergence. Languages have been, and still are, used to reinforce classism, sexism, and racism—that is, to prevent human unity and support capitalism’s lifestyle of isolation and separation. Some people play the oppressor role; others are in the oppressed role. In general, the people who play the oppressor role are monolingual and speak “principal” languages. Speaking these languages can make them feel superior, better, more intelligent, developed, interesting, current, modern, and so on. “I will not include you (sometimes unconsciously) in my conversation, my session, my support group, the topic group, my goals and policies, my life.” The speakers of “non-principal” languages are generally excluded and made to feel ashamed, inferior, less than, and so on.

As in other oppressions, people caught in the oppressor role have difficulty being aware of it; oppressed people notice it much more easily and quickly.

We have the opportunity and space to wipe away oppression. We can achieve language liberation and reclaim equal relationships. Inclusion will help us in this.


Inclusion is critical. We all need to reach out to others in all the ways we can think of. This means thinking about everyone and moving toward others without waiting for them to come to us. An important tool for moving toward others is language. We can use it to learn about other people, about their cultures and languages, and to get close to them—or we can just wait for them to learn our language and get close to us.

I have spent more than thirty years learning English. Doing this has required a lot of money, time, and effort. I have been in RC for more than twenty-one years and have almost always made the effort to go to native English speakers and try to make contact with them in their language. I do not regret this at all. It has been one of my most powerful decisions. It has pushed me to re-emerge in ways that have given back to me a sharp sense of what caring and inclusion can mean—something I had no idea of before. Even though I don’t think it’s fair that one person always make the effort to get closer to another, I understand that it is the way our oppressive societies have hurt us, and I know I will continue to make the effort in the coming years—until we understand what we are talking about, until we recognize the enemy that exclusion is and how it slows down our unity and growth. I have everything to win from taking this position, and I want to do it. I will not lose anything at all by doing it.

The following are phrases I have been using to help people discharge about language liberation. I invite you to use them—whatever class, language, or other group you belong to.

• My language (or dialect) is the way I exist.

• My language is the way I can most easily be myself.

• My language is the key to my intelligence.

• My language is the whole universe that resides in my mind.

If you are from an oppressor language group and would like some directions for discharging and working directly on that, you could ask yourself the following questions:

• Why is my language so important to me?

• What would the world be like for me if it operated in a language other than mine?

• What and how would I feel if my language were a non-principal one? A minority one?

I would really appreciate your answers.

Thank you for your effort.

Xabi Odriozola
International Commonality Reference Person for Translations and Languages
Donostia, Basque Country 

* Mum means mother.

Last modified: 2015-01-24 05:14:45+00