LANGUAGE AS A.CONTROL
‘Language is a way of describing=reality, and changes in language may change the way people see reality. This is what symbolic interventionists mean by “the social construction of.reality.” .A redefinition which ascribes new meanings to-familiar words may promote a redefinition of attitudes and relationships. For example, recent use of the term,’ “welfare rights” has had some success in changing the image of “welfare” from a charity . (which the poor gratefully accept in whatever amount offered) to a “right” (for which recipients may legitimately negotiate, bargain, and battle.. After , all, a “right” is Simply a Clair which other people will recognize ‘and grant. Revolution are and terrorist groups may call themselves an “army” and assume military, titles (“field marshal, chief of staff”) A field marshal vote a ‘ten-person “army” may, be ‘absurd, but if the media can be’ persuaded to use these terms, it lends an; air of legitimacy to the group,’ making it more acceptable to the society at large. Sometimes groups use language for the opposite effect. An argot is a special language of a subculture. It includes specially coined words as well as ordinary words with a special meaning attached. For .example, Howard [1974, p. 44] reports that in the ghetto (at that particular moment), to be called “all bad” meant that one had dash. verve, and style, while ”bad mother was a compliment: An argot serves important functions of social control. It promotes communication within the group, since each term, is freighted with meaning which only group members can understand. Argot also excludes outsiders; to enter the group, one must “speak the language.” Learning the argot thus not only strengthens the tie between the individual and the group, it also cuts down communication with the world outside. No individuals are entirely cut off from contacts outside the subculture, but as Bernstein  , observes, the argot serves to maximize social barriers between the group and the rest of society. It has operates to maintain what sociologists call “boundary maintenance.