I heart George Lakoff

I’m mostly writing this post to remind myself of all the good stuff I need to read. I hope you find it helpful as well. George Lakoff is a linguist on the faculty at UC-Berkeley and a founder of the Rockridge Institute. In this Simple Tutorial, he explains the power of framing. He demonstrates how our choice of words frames the debate, and how “Conservatives Know about Framing.”

This was the article that got me started, about how conservatives dominate with their mad framing skillz. For example:

Language always comes with what is called “framing.” Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like “revolt,” that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That’s a frame.

If you then add the word “voter” in front of “revolt,” you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like “voter revolt” — something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves.

In this one he breaks it down about the so-called “war on terror.”

And then when you’re done with that, here’s the whole
George Lakoff archive on AlterNet. When I finish that, I have to start reading his books.

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