CityLab Got it Wrong: The Real Story is English Monolingualism

Is the U.S still influenced by Anglo-centrism? In an article published yesterday by the CityLab project at the Atlantic, researchers at the Urban Institute claim that “one in fifteen children are linguistically isolated.” By “linguistically isolated”, they mean that a child lives in a home where no one over 15 years of age speaks English less than “very well.” This research is based on census data that reports language proficiency in the home.

Map From Article

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While the researchers may be right that English proficiency is an important factor in accessing public services, and certainly may have an impact on socialization, I read this and wondered if this conclusion is not only inadequate but ethnocentric. Rather than dive into the conclusions of the investigation, I want to reverse the claim to illustrate what I mean.

Are we aware of the enormous linguistic isolation of American children all over the country? Are we aware that in the majority of states, children from a young age are inflicted with monolingualism as a result of parents who are carriers of the monolingual illness? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the ignorance and prejudice that results from having no way to communicate across language barriers? I decided to draw up a quick map (below) of the percent, by state, of residents who are monolingual in English. The map shows that in most states, that number is above 75%, with the national average being at 79%. In other words, 79% of the people in the United States are linguistically isolated by only knowing English. I think that’s a more important story about racial and linguistic segregation.

My Map of Percent English Monolinguals (by State)

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Monolingualism is contagious, but it is also treatable. It seems that more children in the U.S. should be required to vaccinate as early as kindergarten so that we can build a future where no children is “linguistically isolated”.

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Happy Bloomsday, Interpreters

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Today is June 16, the day that Ulysses Joyce uses to chronicle one day of Leopold Bloom’s fictional life in his famous book Ulysses. June 16 has become known as Bloomsday, a celebration of that wonderfully erratic, nonsensical novel of linguistic hyper-flourish.

Bloomsday is important for interpreters, though, not just for literarily curious – although I should hope that many interpreters love literature, as well. Bloomsday is important because Joyce pushed the boundaries of language and literature, by slamming grammar against the page until grammar itself shattered into fragments throughout the book. Many have called Ulysses a prank, or even the epitome of senseless post-structuralism. But interpreters know better. We know that Joyce usefully and productively crossed the line between fiction and reality, by showing how nonsensical language often is in everyday life. Interpreters are often called in to make sense of the senseless, and to fill the impossible gap between two languages with something like a provisional, rickety, already-decaying bridge that creates the possibility of situational understanding against all odds.

Happy Bloomsday to us all.

New Multi-Use Touch Technology Allows Deaf Customers to Talk to Bartenders

Cutting edge technology available today! There has been a slew of technological “solutions” that claim to allow Deaf people to talk to hearing people. But no device so far has the flexibility, convenience, and affordability of this device that I saw in use at an ASL social a few months ago. The device — pictured below — allows Deaf customers to communicate their drink options and simple questions to the bartender. Best of all, the device has a built-in “learning” capacity, which preserves previous questions and drink orders for easy repeated use. The device also works with state-of-the-art “touch” technology: users can navigate to their desired text and touch it with their finger, indicating their preference to the bartender. The device is now available in stores for less than $0.01 each, and often sold in packages of 500 for convenience. Get yours now before they run out!

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Word Magic – reposted from the New Yorker

In a pleasant piece in the New Yorker, which I just received today, Adam Gopnik discusses the power of translation and untranslatability. Having just covered this topic two days ago in a post on fidelity, I was intrigued. For instance, Gopnik quotes Bellos (author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?) as saying,

“despite the endless insistence that the real thing is lost in translation, we readily translate everything, and all the time.”

Well, I’m not sure Bellos is right. After all, the US book market is made up of a merely 3% translations, while the number in any other country reaches well into double digits. Nonetheless, I agree with the point: we all believe translation to be lacking something, even though we often use translations all the time.

The article also has a nice critique of Whorf’s hypothesis, that language determines what we are able and unable to say.

In all, great article. And it reminds me that if you look, you can always find near stuff on language and interpreting all over the place.

Adorno on the Institute for Deaf-Mutes

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I ran across this passage by the philosopher Theodor Adorno in Minima Moraliaa collection of aphorisms and observations. That’s Adorno’s desk in a park in Frankfurt above, which I took the last time I was there. The passage is a remarkable comment on speech and human existence, but I will not provide any comments on it myself. (Rather busy at the moment, I’m afraid.) What do you think about the passage?

[90] Institute for deaf-mutes. – While the schools drill human beings in speech as in first aid for the victims of traffic accidents and in the construction of gliders, the schooled ones become ever more silent. They can give speeches, every sentence qualifies them for the microphone, before which they can be placed as representatives of the average, but the capacity to speak with each other is being suffocated. It presupposes an experience worthy of being communicated, freedom of expression, and independence as much as social relations. In the all-encompassing system conversation turns into ventriloquism. Everyone is their own Charlie McCarthy: thus the latter’s popularity. Words are turning altogether into the formulas, which were previously reserved for greetings and farewells. For example, a young lady successfully raised according to the latest desiderata should be able to say, at every moment, what is appropriate in a “situation,” according to tried and true guidelines. However such determinism of speech through adaptation is its end: the relation between the thing and the expression is severed, and just as the concepts of the positivists are supposed to be nothing more than placeholders, those of positivistic humanity are literally turned into coins. What is happening in the voices of the speakers, is what, according to the insight of psychology, happened to that of the conscience, from whose resonance all speech lives: it is replaced down to the most refined cadence by a socially prepared mechanism. As soon as this last stops functioning, creating pauses, unforeseen by unwritten statutes of law, panic ensures. This has led to the rise of intricate games and other free-time activities, which are supposed to dispense with the burden of conscience of speech. The shadow of fear however falls ominously on the speech which remains. Impartiality and objectivity in the discussion of objects are disappearing even in the most intimate circles, just as in politics, where the discussion was long since dispelled by the word of power. Speaking is taking on a malign gesture. It is becoming sportified. One tries to score as many points as possible: there is no conversation which the opportunity for competition does not worm itself into, like a poison. The emotions generated by the subjects being discussed, in conversations worthy of human beings, attach themselves pigheadedly to the narrow issue of who is right, outside of any relationship to the relevance of the statement. As a pure means of power, however, the disenchanted word exerts a magical power over those who use it. It can be observed time and time again how something once uttered, no matter how absurd, accidental or incorrect, precisely because it was once said, tyrannizes the speaker like a possession they cannot break away from. Words, numbers, and meetings, once concocted and expressed, become independent and bring all manner of calamity to those in their vicinity. They form a zone of paranoid infection, and it requires the maximum reason to break their baleful spell. The magicalization of the great and inconsequential political slogans is repeated privately, in the seemingly most neutral of objects: the rigor mortis of society is overtaking even the cells of intimacy, which thought themselves protected from it. Nothing is being done to humanity from the outside only: dumbness is the objective Spirit [Geist].

Why ASL Matters

The intellectual history of ASL and Deaf studies is a fascinating one. It has yet to be written. But if I get to tell that story, here’s how part of that story will go.

Interpreters and hearing scholars, often working alongside Deaf collaborators, recognized that “Deaf gesturing” was much more than gesturing: it was an actual language. To legitimize calling it language, these scholars drew heavily upon the structural linguistics of their day to show that ASL could be studied and described as any other language, albeit without a written form. While Deaf advocates have always existed, this linguistic research drew upon the anthropological idea of culture to reinforce their claims that ASL belonged to a social minority and could be studied alongside a study of the everyday life of the Deaf community. A powerful idea was born, which, alongside the commodification of interpreting services and social service in general, created a relatively coherent and internally consistent argument about Deaf difference, oppression, and justice.

There was just one problem: much of this literature, for very good reasons, uncritically assumed the ideas of majority academic research and popular thought at the time. Until today, these ideas have been relatively unchanged. (I would argue that the early articles in Sign Language Studies are an un-mined source of new ideas for us today.) Much like geography departments today, interpreting programs and Deaf studies programs are under constant pressure to justify their existence. They must answer the question: why does ASL matter? Why do we need to know anything about the Deaf community? The usual response about Deaf people being an oppressed minority is true, but insufficient. I think Giorgio Agamben provides a very thoughtful way forward. This thought came to mind as I was reading selections from his book Potentialities (1999).

In his essay The Idea of Language, Agamben describes language as revelation like this:

“…the content of revelation is not a truth that can be expressed in the form of linguistic propositions about a being (even about a supreme being) but is, instead, a truth that concerns language itself, the very fact that language (and therefore knowledge) exists. … humans see the world through language but do not see language.” (40)

And in a later essay On Gesture, he describes

“If speech is originary gesture, then what is at issue in gesture is not so much a prelinguistic content as, so to speak, the other side of language, the muteness inherent in humankind’s very capacity for language, it’s speechless dwelling in language. … gesture is always the gesture of being at a loss in language…” (78)

These two quotes matter for the following reasons.

First, they show that despite many years of recognition, visual languages still haven’t made a strong impact in precisely the most important philosophical circles that they should. You can see that Agamben’s notion of human language is still very oral/aural.

Second, don’t be too harsh on Agamben, because within these short excerpts you can already see that there is great potential here to extend these arguments to ASL. In fact, I think we can start to see why visual languages have been resisted for so long. It’s not just longstanding prejudice against the body and against sign languages. It’s also about the historic understanding of being as the one who responds to the event of spoken language, even when one can’t decipher language. Philosophers have always been fascinated by sign language communities — if only marginally — because they represent the limits of linguistic communities.

ASL matters because it is the point where gesture, which is typically the loss of language, becomes language itself. We should not try too hard to equate visual languages with spoken language, but to demonstrate how they push philosophy beyond its ontological limits.

Why is ASL so important to Deaf culture?

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Introduction

This post cannot answer the title question thoroughly. Nor is this a “study” of Deaf individuals’ narrative frameworks for understanding ASL and culture. (Interestingly, no such research exists.) Rather, this is an attempt to understand how ASL and Deaf culture have been conceptually linked, and how this particular link between language and culture is a double-edged sword.

In his 2005 article on “Ethnicity, Ethics, and the Deaf-World”, Harlan Lane provides a well-argued critique of applying the term disability to Deaf individuals. Lane suggests that hearing people should view the Deaf community as an ethnicity, and he provides long list of properties which are intended to demonstrate that Deaf people are an “ethnicity”: language, kinship, “the arts”, social structure, values, knowledge, customs, etc. In the short paragraph describing language, Lane quotes well-known linguist, Joshua Fishman, in defense of language as a primary ethnic marker. I’ll quote the entire paragraph:

“‘The mother tongue is an aspect of the soul of a people. It is their achievement par excellence. Language is the surest way for individuals to safeguard or recover the authenticity they inherited from their ancestors as well as to hand it on to generations yet unborn’ (Fishman, 1989, p. 276). Competence in ASL is a hallmark of Deaf ethnicity in the United States and some other parts of North America. A language not based on sound is the primary element that sharply demarcates the Deaf-World from the engulfing hearing society.” (Lane 2005)

Anyone with a week of experience in the Deaf community will grasp the common sense of this statement. As Mindess quotes in an epigraph on page 110 (a quote from Schein 1989) of Reading Between the Signs, “For many members of the Deaf community, they and ASL are indistinguishable. Their self-concept is based on being Deaf and being Deaf to them means using ASL.” Interpreting students learn this simple fact from Stewart, Schein, and Cartwright (1998), too: “ASL is the language of the Deaf community.” (134) Minor quibbles aside, these are rather incontestable observations as far as I can tell. And they are – or should be – foundational knowledge of sign language interpreters.

But there is something missing for me.

Something is Missing

What’s missing for me is a history of the ideas that make the Deaf community a community – or ethnicity, or culture, or linguistic minority – and which therefore make interpreting a profession in the first place. I hope the following illustration explains what I think is missing from our current literature and creates an opening for further discussion within interpreting in the future. (See post What Do Interpreters Need to Accomplish?)

If we could summarize the above quotes in a brief assertion that sounds like anthropology 101, it would go something like this: “Language is one of the primary markers of distinct social groups.” This has been true for as far back as the historical record shows. But there’s a twist. It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that language took on a particularly powerful role in defining social groups in the sense that we think of it today.

What is language and culture?

The main figure in this evolution is Johann Gottfried von Herder (according to Peter Watson in The German Genius). Locke claimed that language was a natural phenomenon, not a divine gift – a transformation in thought that interpreters should certainly revisit. But it was Herder who gave language a new power it didn’t have before. It’s worth quoting from Watson’s book at length:

“Language identifies a Volk or nationality, and this, the historico-psychological entity of the common language, is for him ‘the most natural and organic basis for political organisation… Without its own language a Volk is an absurdity (Unding). … A Volk, on this theory, is the natural division of the human race, endowed with its own language, which it must preserve as its most distinctive and sacred possession.”

Herder should also be known for his advocacy a rather new idea at the time: culture. For Herder, “whatever the ‘collective consciousness’ of a Volk was at any particular time, was its culture.” (The term Zeitgeist – the spirit of the times – was Herder’s neologism.) For Herder, these concepts of Volk, language, culture, and nation are all intertwined. Ultimately, all of these features reach their height in the establishment of a nation-state, a political organization which has the authority to represent the political will of the people – in fact, the state itself is the political will of the people.

Why does this matter?

First, I think Herder’s original writings are more philosophically robust than most of what we find in interpreting literature today. This is not a criticism of books about interpreting, but it suggests that there is much to be gained from reading the original texts of thinkers who we often think of as old and irrelevant. This may not interest most working interpreters. But working interpreters deserve to know that it hasn’t interested scholars in Deaf studies and interpreting either. In other words, despite about 50 years of scholarship in our field, we still don’t know where our ideas came from. This is no small matter. And it would be a great topic for a MA thesis is anyone out there is thinking of going back to school. (See post All Interpreters are Philosophers.)

Second, I think we can detect in these excerpts the double-edged sword that is about to fall on Western civilization. This is a bit more complex, but it is very important. When Herder argues that language is the most natural, authentic characteristic of social groups, he is lending support to the idea that “natural divisions of the human race” exist, and therefore can’t be challenged. This is known today as essentialism. And he is lending support for the newly-formed nation-states of Europe. By 1945, these European states and their many counterparts in the Third World will have experienced a century of nearly unending conflict and war precisely on the basis of these “natural” human divisions. Horkheimer and Adorno will later call this the “triumphant calamity” of the enlightenment. (See The Culture Bargain post.)

Third, this is the time (late 1700s, early 1800s) that what we now call the Deaf community was beginning to take its modern form in Europe and the U.S. Notably, early texts written by Deaf individuals refer to themselves as a “nation”, not as a culture. Culture didn’t take on its modern meaning in English until the 1860s, and didn’t fall into common use until the 20th century. Interestingly, when it did enter English in the 1860s, it was introduced by German-trained anthropologists who were trying to identify and categorize Herder’s “natural divisions of the human race”. In other words, the term culture has a particularly colonial ring to it. Culture, like Herder’s theory of language, is going to but both ways against the emerging Deaf community. The Deaf community will see itself as a “nation” during the 1800s, and by the late 1960s, see itself as a “culture” (with the aid of hearing academics, no small matter, indeed). But culture and language are also going to be the tools of oppression. Deaf people do not have Herder’s nation-state to back them up. Quite the contrary, it will be the ASL users themselves who will later be seen as deviating from the national cultural model. (See Anthropology’s Culture Problem post.)

Our ideas using us more than we are using our ideas

Lane was right: ASL matters to Deaf culture. But when we claim, as we often do, that language and culture are inseparable, it can make it seem as if this is how it has always been since the beginning of time. Or it seems that this way of thinking is “natural”. In fact, this idea is relatively recent. And this idea has cut both ways, sometimes hurting the Deaf community, sometimes empowering the Deaf community. Without attention to where these ideas came from, I can’t help but think that we are captive to these ideas. When we are captive to our ideas, it becomes hard to imagine a different world and our options for advocacy are stunted, hampered, restricted. Our ideas using us more than we are using our ideas. It is worth our time to excavate these ideas and enrich our ability to be excellent interpreters and strong advocates.

This is not a definitive answer to the question, “Why Does ASL Matter to the Deaf community?”. But it is an often-overlooked part of a larger answer.

List of references:

  • Lane, H. L. (2005). Ethnicity, Ethics, and the Deaf-World. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 10(3), 291–310. doi:10.1093/deafed/eni030
  • Mindess, A. (1999). Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters. Intercultural Press.
  • Stewart, D. A., Schein, J. D., & Cartwright, B. E. (1998). Sign language interpreting: Exploring its art and science.
  • Watson, P. (2011). The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century. HarperCollins.

Language, Power, and Models of Interpreting

This post brings together Sandra Gish’s model of interpreting and Normal Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis.

In 2002 I took an online class through Gallaudet University called Introduction to Interpreting for Multicultural Interpreters. I learned my first interpreting model: the Gish Model of Interpreting. The Gish Model of interpreting in a nutshell works like this. If you try to focus on interpreting every word that’s coming at you, you are bound to miss things. And when you miss things, you don’t have any way to compensate for that “miss” in your interpreting. Instead of focusing on the surface of the language, focus on the intent, goals, and themes of the situation and use that knowledge to create a better-quality interpretation that actually makes sense. (See the diagram below courtesy of TheInterpretersFriend.) In my opinion, the Gish Model is the best information processing model we have in interpreting. So far, so good. (I think Sandra is still teaching at Western Oregon University, but I can’t find a page to link to.)

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Now enter Norman Fairclough and his book Critical Discourse Analysis (1995). Quick aside: I came to this book because it was published in a series by Pearson Educational Press called “Language in Social Life Series”. Cecilia Wadensjö’s book Interpreting as Interaction was published in this series, too, which is how I found out about Fairclough. In any case, in Critical Discourse Analysis, Fairclough explains his approach to discourse analysis as being committed to careful interpretation of the “text” (which can mean spoken texts, too), but also being attentive to power relationships, ideology, and inequality. He criticizes theories of discourse analysis that ignore power and presume neutrality. Here’s how he describes it:

“I also criticize the concept of ‘background knowledge’ as an obfuscation of ideological processes in discourse, the preoccupation with ‘goals’ as based upon an untenable theory of the subject, and the neglect of relations of power manifested for instance in the elevation of conversation between equals to the status of idealized archetype for linguistic interaction in general.” (23)

If that sounds like gobbledygook, here’s what Fairclough is saying: It is extremely rare that two people of perfectly equal or neutral status communicate with one another. Yet when we study language, we pretend like this is the norm. When we do this, we are hiding the power relationships that actually exist. These “neutralized” models of language are part of what make us blind to power. Here’s an image of the kinds of models Fairclough is talking about. You’ve probably seen this before, right?

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Okay, so far, so good. But now we have to ask ourselves a tough question: how would Fairclough view the Gish Model?

If work with Fairclough’s framework of analysis, we might come to the following conclusion. The Gish Model supposes that communication is about goals, when in fact (as Freud said), we don’t know why we do what we do (see post on Judith Butler). We don’t have overarching goals which filter down into specific sentences and words, and therefore, interpreters can’t work their way back up the tree to arrive at the speaker’s goal. Even when we have goals, because language is so fidgety, we can’t enact those goals through language in any straightforward way. If we accept Fairclough’s analysis in his book, we have to acknowledge that – at some level – the premises of the Gish Model obscure power relations. It’s not something that we need to “add back in” to the Gish Model. The model itself starts from the premise that communication is a power-neutral process, when, at least according to Fairclough, it isn’t.

But isn’t the Gish Model super helpful? Didn’t I say that I love it? Yes, and yes. So what’s going on? The utility of the Gish Model isn’t that it helps interpreters grasp the goals of the speaker. Instead, it’s that Gish helps us to imagine goals, and these imagined goals (true or false, it doesn’t matter) helps us to organize our interpretation in a more coherent fashion. In other words, the Gish Model isn’t about the speaker – it’s about us. And insofar as the Gish Model teaches us to “think like the speaker” in recognizing goals, it is powerful and should be included in workshops all the time.

But we haven’t escaped Fairclough, yet. We are still stuck with the fact that the goals that are guiding are own interpretation are of our own making. Which means that our interpretation is tainted with our unrecognized, unacknowledged, unknown ideologies. This is just a fancy way of saying that interpreters influence the message; we all know that. But I think if we put Fairclough and Gish together we can get a better idea of precisely how interpreters influence the message.

If this seems like an anti-climactic conclusion, let’s look at the most thorough analysis of interpreter errors in our profession: Marty Taylor’s pink and blue skills books (1993). They list all possible types of linguistic errors. And Marty is absolutely right: we need this kind of careful analysis. Just take note that if we are talking about how ideology influences language, no such typology is possible since human subjectivity is not a standardized, rule-based process. In short, with Fairclough’s analysis it gets more complicated than tracking more-or-less objective signing errors.

If we incorporate Fairclough into the field of interpreting, we will have to recognize that many of our assumptions about language contain false premises of “power-neutral” communication. I think this is the contribution of Fairclough. But it shouldn’t cause us to despair, or lead us to react against existing models. Instead, we should draw upon our own scholarship and move it forward carefully and thoughtfully.

Language, Interpreters, and Qualitative Research

I received a call for papers at the annual geography conference about fieldwork using interpreters. I was already engaged with another panel. The panel coordinator included these citations about doing research in a second language or through an interpreter. I haven’t read any of them, so I can’t say anything about them. But just look at the titles. Doesn’t this stuff sound interesting and relevant to interpreters? Maybe these resources will benefit someone out there.

  • Crane, LG, MB Lombard & EM Tenz. (2009) More than just translation: challenges and opportunities in translingual research. Soc. Geog. 4:39-46.
  • Putsch, R. (1985) Cross-cultural Communication: The Special Case of Interpreters in Health Care. Journal of the American Medical Association 254 (23): 3344-3348. Smith, F.M. (1996) Problematising Language: Limitations and Possibilities in ‘Foreign Language’ Research. Area 28(2):160-166.
  • Squires, A. (2010) Methodological challenges in cross-language qualitative research: A research review. International Journal of Nursing Studies 46: 277-287.
  •  Temple, B. & A. Young (2004) Qualitative Research and Translation Dilemmas. Qualitative Research 4(2):161-178.
  • Twyman, C., J. Morrison & D. Sporton. (1999) The final fifth: autobiography, reflexivity and interpretation in cross-cultural research. Area 31(4):313-325.
  • Veeck, G. (2001) Talk is Cheap: Cultural and Linguistic Fluency During Field Research. Geographical Review 91(1/2):34-40.
  • Watson, Elizabeth E. (2004) ‘What a dolt one is’: Language learning and fieldwork in geography. Area 36(1):59-6

All Interpreters are Philosophers

Interpreters deal with language everyday, and are therefore in an exceptional position to analyze how people think about the world. This is why I love interpreting. And since we are translating and interpreting between two languages, we can’t help but create meanings that reflect our own worldview.

Take gender, for instance. Many forms ask the applicant to fill in gender. Speakers may often say gender. How do we interpret this? In ASL, there is no superordinate word for gender. I suspect that is true for many other languages. The textbook way of signing this is probably to sign: “MALE FEMALE WHICH?” But there’s the problem. Is gender really a question of male or female? From a normative perspective, yes, most people probably think that gender is about male or female. So the interpretation does meet a general dynamic equivalence. But on the other hand, if you recognize that gender is a social category (not a biological one) you may also recognize that the male-female choice is reductive and incomplete. To sign MALE FEMALE WHICH? is a way of perpetuating the heteronormative myth, a myth that gains validity each time we repeat it through language as if it were objectively reality. What a lot to think about!

Interpreters, therefore, can’t help but make language choices that have philosophical baggage. Is there any way to theorize the role of interpreters as philosophers? Enter Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), an Italian Marxist who was imprisoned and later died for his protest of the Italian fascist regime. Here’s an often-circulated picture of him.

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In his best-known work, the prison notebooks (literally a bunch of notebooks he wrote in prison), he says this about philosophy:

“It is essential to destroy the widespread prejudice that philosophy is a strange and difficult thing just because it is the specific intellectual activity of a particular category of specialists or of professional and systematic philosophers. It must first be shown that all men are “philosophers”, by defining the limits and characteristics of the the “spontaneous philosophy” which is proper to everybody. This philosophy is contained in: 1. language itself, which is a totality of determined notions and concepts and not just words grammatically devoid of content; 2. “common sense” and “good sense”; 3. popular religion and, therefore, also in the entire system of beliefs, superstitions, opinions, ways of seeing things and of acting, which are collectively bundled together under the name of “folklore” (SPN 1971, 33).

Rather than do the work of explaining what I think about this passage, I simply leave it to you, dear interpreters, to think about this passage today. Some questions to ponder:

  1. What does this passage mean?
  2. What does it mean to interpreters?
  3. Why is language at the top of the list of things that make us all philosophers?
  4. What belief systems are you encountering today, and how does that influence your interpretation/translation?
  5. What powerful systems of language are beyond your control?
  6. When do you have the ability to transform language? When don’t you?

I’d love to see your thoughts and feedback!