Language Liberation, and Individual Re-emergence

Since I accepted the job of International Liberation Reference Person for Languages and Interpreting, I have been working on language liberation more directly. And I have noticed that unless someone points to where we can discharge on language liberation, it can be hard to find our way to it.

I start from the premise that both you and I want to change society. I do not doubt that you want this as much as I do. As you work to change society, you will find yourself in relationships with a number of people. This is just fine.

At the beginning they will be people of your own heritage, status, style, and so on. But as you discharge and re-emerge, your mind will ask you to reach more and more people, and different kinds of people. And more and more people will want to have you as their reference. I think this is the way RC works. The more aware we are of people and the ways they have been oppressed, the easier it becomes to reach them and help bring about a revolution in their minds.

NO LIMITS FOR OUR MINDS

My mind always surprises me. When I think I am reaching a new level of development or taking a new step, my mind is already on the next step, waiting for me. It is telling me, “Come on, Xabi, one more step forward; I am already here; prepare yourself.” The capacity to break limits—old and new ones—and re-emerge seems to me to be inherent and unlimited.

There will come a time when you will need to express yourself in front of people who are different from you but who like you because they have been told about you or have been influenced by your modeling of a logical human and by how you use RC. Very likely you will need to be familiar with some words in languages you do not yet know. This is right and necessary. We shouldn’t expect to free the world only through our own unique language. That would fall short.

Your mind wants everything from you. It wants you to continuously engage in more and more relationships. It wants you to keep taking new steps of complexity with other minds as a way to grow and re-emerge without limits. Your mind will never take a rest, think it’s had enough, or give you a recess. This is something we need to assume: no limits for our minds, ever, in any way. A mind does not want to return to the limits it accepted before getting new ideas. It loves spreading out.

So it will be helpful for you to have a command of some words that may open doors (minds) for you. You could learn to say things like “Hello,” “Have a nice day,” “You are right,” “You are good,” “How clever you all are!” “I think that is a good idea,” “See you soon,” “I like you,” in languages different from your own. You will also need to understand some sentences from other languages.

Your mind is not made to function and develop only in your own language; that would be a limited space for it. You cannot avoid other minds falling in love with yours—that will happen—and those other minds will need unlimited possibilities from your mind, as examples of what human beings are capable of. Being a significant part of the lives of other human beings on their path toward unlimited re-emergence is logical, safe, and necessary for you. Probably you will become an interpreter, and that is one of the best things that could happen to you.

Some ideas for you, as a future interpreter, are described below. There are many more. The main ones will come from your own mind as you do this work. Most basically, you will need to discharge about language, from all possible angles, and about everything that may be connected with it.

LANGUAGE IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING

Language is connected with everything we hear, read, think, or say—that is, almost everything that is going on.1 Language is connected with our experiences of being alive and in contact with other minds when we first come into this world and as we grow up.

Almost all of us have been influenced by some, if not all, of the following: the education system (oppressive in almost all countries), classism, racism, sexism, anti-Jewish oppression, young people’s oppression, genocide, nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, the “mental health” system. These phenomena impose and perpetuate a set of values and assumptions that are not accurate or logical, and they use languages to disseminate them. So the more you review and discharge on these phenomena from the point of view of language, the more you will free your mind and find your own self.

I am offering you here some angles from which you could discharge and make your way to your own re-emergence by means of language liberation.

OPPRESSION FROM THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

The oppression in the education system has made you believe wrong information about languages (and about a lot of other topics). The following contradicts some of that wrong information:

All languages are perfect, right, complete, accurate, and the rich result of deeply intelligent mental processes.They are made by human minds as they try to communicate their view of themselves and the world so that they can stay connected and united while going through the challenges of life.

When you discharge from this perspective, you experience the reality that all languages are of equal and vital importance.

NEW WORDS ARE WAITING FOR YOU

You can discharge about words you have always hated, and still hate. You can discharge on the sounds, spelling, and writing of any languages that (because of oppression) you dislike, fear, exclude, or feel are “forbidden” or do not belong to you—languages that when you hear them you disconnect from the people who speak them and give up on believing that you can make deep contact with those people.

Words you never use are waiting for you. Other words that you use too often—cuss words,2 for instance—may be obstructing your ability to learn new words and expressions that seem to belong to other people.

CLASSISM AND RACISM

Perhaps you use some “high level” words or expressions that you can hide behind to keep you from making connections with certain kinds of people. The oppressive system would like to keep us each enclosed within our particular class as a way to prevent us from uniting with others.

Certain words and expressions are misused to classify people according to their ethnic group, skin color, hair type, size of eyes, height. Some languages are considered inferior because the people who speak them are from ethnic groups that have been looked down upon, rejected, and undervalued due to prejudices and false ideas.

IMPERIALISM, COLONIALISM, GENOCIDE

Imperialism, capitalism, colonialism, nationalism, and genocide play a role similar to racism. They separate people by perpetuating lies about them, for the purpose of bringing economic profit to the ruling class that dominates and exploits them. We are taught that some countries can accumulate all they wish while others should be exploited to profit the affluent ones. Some countries are eliminated. Their resources are taken from them. Their people are not considered worthy of existence, because “they do not contribute” to the world of the ruling class but instead “cause problems”—economic problems, health problems, political problems, ethnic problems. Sometimes a group of people is eliminated (genocide), because they stand in the way of the theft of their resources.

The languages of some countries are targeted because the countries do not fit into the oppressive mainstream. Their languages may be considered “difficult,” or as serving no good or useful purpose, along with the cultures and customs of the people who speak them. This has happened to the languages of countries that did not follow the standard path of capitalism, such as Russia and China. Their languages have been viewed as “difficult.” My own language, Basque, is in this group.

We now know that there is no such thing as a “difficult language.” It is more accurate to say that difficult conditions have been imposed on certain cultures by imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism.

All of the above is reflected in language and the symbolism that surrounds it. With few opportunities to discharge, people have been conditioned to “think” and feel oppressive things about many cultures and languages.

SEXISM

If we have not discharged on language and sexism, we may find ourselves discriminating against another group of people. We need to be aware of how we are using language, so we do not dismiss women or people with other sexual identities.

In my Region3 some RC activities need to be interpreted from Basque to Spanish, or sometimes to French or English. In Spanish there are endings to indicate gender (feminine or masculine). When you say, “We all are good,” you must say it with both gender endings: “Todas/os somos buenas/os.” This makes the interpreting (and the translating) slow and sometimes repetitive.

Some years ago I decided that when I led classes, workshops, and support groups, theory interpreted into Spanish would be interpreted only into the feminine, to make women and their situation visible and to shorten the time of the interpreting. Doing this may help us become aware of how our sexism is attached to the language and how it collaborates with the exclusion of women. Why was it easy for almost all the women in my Region to accept this but it was not so easy, at the beginning, for some men?

YOUNG PEOPLE’S OPPRESSION

The way we adults use language can be oppressive to young people. In Basque culture, we think that some words belong only to young people; we adults don’t use them because it can look like we want to be younger than we are. Other words aren’t supposed to be used in front of young people because “they will not understand.” Some abilities, such as being able to “reason” or having “mind-autonomy,” are assigned only to people of certain ages; and some words, linguistic concepts, and pieces of information are not taught to people of certain ages, which causes separation, ranking, and oppression.

“MENTAL HEALTH” OPPRESSION

Something similar can happen with the vocabulary used to describe “mental health” issues. We may describe people as having a “mental disability” if they have more or deeper distress than is “normal.” This is oppressive. Instead we can use words that name things as they actually are, for example, “people who have been given less human attention” or “people who have been especially prevented from discharging.” We can help each other be aware of what has happened to each other instead of using words the oppressive system has chosen for us that reinforce our oppressions and oppressive labeling.

LINKED CONCEPTS

Most of us unawarely link in our minds pairs of concepts like languages and flags, languages and faces, languages and clothes, languages and income levels, languages and maps, languages and nations, languages and colors, languages and developmental levels. All of us who have grown up in capitalist societies have been conditioned to do this.

You can pick one of the pairs above and see how the terms are linked in your mind. For instance, take languages and faces. Think for a while, with your eyes closed, about a language. Pronounce any word from that language, or imagine that someone who knows it is speaking it, and let the images come.

You can try this with any pair—for instance, languages and maps. Because of Basque internalized oppression, some of my native Basque friends think that a map using our Basque language is less accurate than the same map using terms of one of the oppressor languages (French or Spanish), so they prefer to buy the latter map. Basque language has been oppressed, persecuted, and made to seem rude4 and only to be used on the farm, so Basque people can hardly imagine a broad and unlimited field for it and, as a consequence, for their Basque identity.

Let’s take languages and colors. Close your eyes, think about a language or someone who is speaking it, and see if any color comes to your mind.

We are all infected with this kind of conditioning, and most of the time we are not aware of it.

NO LONGER A TOOL FOR OPPRESSION

I hope these ideas can help us notice where we need to do more work on our distresses from the point of view of language liberation. I hope they can help us get closer to demolishing barriers that we were not very aware of, so that languages are no longer an excuse and a tool for separating us and installing and transmitting oppression and wrong ideas about people.

Thank you for reading.

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


1 Going on means happening.
2 Cuss words are profanity.
3 A Region is a subdivision of the International RC Community, usually consisting of several Areas (local RC Communities).
4 In this context, rude means primitive, uncivilized.


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07