Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 17:07:44 +0100 To: EvolutionLanguage@list.pitt.edu Subject: Re: EvolLang: Basic Question: > From: "Lawrence" > > But the other kind of complex problem - like getting people to wage > war, or to resist. It is here we find the Churchill, the Ghandi, > the Hitler. All great orators. Here is the home of Language.
Bravo! Words can cure, and words can break a person, they can motivate
and demotivate, calm or inflamate. Masses and mobs can be moved,
channeled, stopped, merely by the words of a demagogue, and men/women
can sweet-talk a partner of the opposite sex into just about anything
The competence of a headman is revealed in his ability to find the words that wring that last drop of exertion out of his labour gang to accomplish a seemingly superhuman task. I know what I'm talking about from own experience in Russia perhaps some 24 or 25 years ago (shucks, no, I wasn't in a Gulag. Only, because of insufficient manpower, the engineers were once in a while required "to lend a hand"). We were some 6 or 8 persons, it was raining, cold, the ground was uneven and slippery, and we had to move an unwieldy and dead-heavy autoclave some 2 meters from where it stood. It refused to budge. We were hungry and eager to go for the lunch break, and decided to make just one more try. All took hold of the damned thing as best as he could, and the headman yells out (in Russian): "OK men, all together now, ......." then followed a cascade of the foulest language imaginable (and in Russian it is fouler than most of what English has) in a nevertheless comical arrangement. One suddenly was suspended in a limbo existing through the tension between two extremes, being deeply insulted and wanting to break into frenzied laughter. That damned autoclave budged and started moving in the desired direction as if by own power. When the headman said "That's all, take a break" it was exactly at the spot where we wanted it to be. I still don't know how we did it. But what I do know since then is the power of language.