I have just translated a cyberpostcard we share at mujerpalabra.net about the importance of language – how it shapes what we think and how we relate. Social movements posed this idea in the May 68 movement, for instance, the connection between Language – Thought – Society. In Modern Linguistics, the science on language, this is clear, too (except for the RAE usage freaks, who anachronically believe that an elite can tell people whta they can or can’t say). This postcard is also a daughter of an idea Emma Goldman expressed when she told a terrible story, of how she was told off by a “comrade” for dancing, of how un-revolutionary that was! Here is that story:
Emma Goldman said something which we summarize in this beautiful sentence, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.” Here is the passage in her book Living My Life (1931; Pluto Press 1987):
“At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.
I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.” Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.” (p. 56)
Language is our tool to change the world. Everybody has that chance, and that power.