Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Editorial

Tough test

Inter alia, power also always dictates language and its tone and tenor in any personal, public, political, economic, social and professional relationship. But it is the maturity, intelligence and emotional quotient, as also the compassion and sensitivity of individual/groups of individuals that determine the usage of language and its tone and tenor. So, language and its tone and tenor reveals power equations in the family, schools, workplaces and out in the streets as much as it reveals power equations in gender relationships ~ markedly so in societies and States that continue to be deeply rooted and steeped in patriarchy, cultural and religious ethos. Language and its tone and tenor further finds its way out in the idioms of law, rights, freedoms, liberties and the scale of equities. However democratic any society or State may claim to be or have pretensions to being, the usage of language and its tone and tenor further reveals the balance of equality. So yes, by the usage of language and its tone and tenor, we create our relationship dynamics. One of the occasions these dynamics becomes most visible is during election and in the use of language and its tone and tenor. For anyone perceptive, just by listening to election campaigns even in an unknown language, it becomes very easy to distinguish political parties and candidates in power from those out of power. For one, there is that arrogance and supreme self-confidence in the voice. Secondly, there is that jeering and taunting in the voice. Thirdly, there is so much condescension in the voice. These alone make it redundant to know and understand the contents of campaigning. Language and its tone and tenor indeed are so much more powerful than mere means of communication because they also tell what and who we are. The tone and tenor of language spoken by any individual also reveals whether that person is an abuse of power or has a healthy respect for everyone ~ or an out and out liar and distorter of facts and truths. It may surprise us but evidently, language and its tone and tenor also betrays body language because body language is said to either elevate or plunge the pitch of the voice under various kinds of pressure. There are just three days left for April 19 and it would be interesting to test our perceptiveness on the political parties and candidates that are campaigning for the 18th Lok Sabha elections. But mind you political parties and their candidates are past masters at the usage of language and its tone and tenor, so it’s a tough test. But for some political campaigners, language and its tone and tenor makes no difference because their tongues move faster than their brains and so they get caught immediately ~ a good example is the ENPO’s sharp observations on eastern Nagaland matters that are used, abused and distorted in election campaigns. Unfortunately, a lot of what is said in election matters remains un-refuted although they are blatant distortion of truths and facts. Also, nobody is so blind or so ignorant of history that all our woes are the fault of political parties that were in power, especially because political parties are made of political personalities and everyone knows who were in which party in which year when this or that happened and is now recorded history. But this needs no repetition because if you know the truths and facts, you may have already decided who you will vote ~ unless, history, truths and facts have no meaning for you. In that case, language and its tone and tenor will also make no difference to you. But it will serve us well to remember that language is critical to all aspects of human growth, development, progress and prosperity in all spheres of human activities. Why else would everyone, especially politicians, extol the virtues of our mother tongues? And, who knows the usage of language and its tone and tenor better than political parties and politicians? If power lies in the hands of the people in a democracy, then people must master the usage of language and its tone and tenor in our political and public discourses.

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