chapter  2
Language and politics
Pages 14

In the last chapter we illustrated the kinds of complexities – political complexities – that attend everyday references to ‘languages’ or ‘a language’. Up to now we have not defined the broader sense of the word ‘language’, or what in the Aristotle quotations is referred to as ‘speech’. We also introduced another everyday notion – the use of language in politics, suggesting that political actors themselves are well aware of the importance of how language is used even in the act of denying the fact. What the present chapter aims to do is twofold – first to consider further the nature of language (we will sometimes refer to it as languageL, for clarity) and second to consider ways in which its use can be meaningfully studied in relation to what we call politics. Throughout this discussion, then, it is important to distinguish the human capacity for language (language L) from a particular language (which we will call language l), such as Dyirbal, Chinese or French, and from use of a language (language l/u), which we shall often refer to as ‘discourse’.