chapter  1
Environment words, environet and the rhetorical web
Pages 36

Anything can be argued about, but only some things are argued about, a fact easily taken for granted. Almost automatically, naturally, we discuss certain issues, the issues of the day and of the times. People recognize what is topical; this is “cultural literacy”. We recognize the agenda, the viewpoints and key words. We speak for ourselves, but we also know what is generally being said and how to say it. Cultural literacy is consciousness of what is topical and how to be topical. It is reflected in talk, but it also applies to writing and reading, as much as to talking. Such literacy is widespread within society and is highly developed by specialists. Anyone trying to write an article for a news­ paper, a magazine or an academic journal has an acute sense of what we are meant to be discussing now, even if the aim is to change the subject. We know the topics, and the turns of phrase, as talkers, as readers, as writers. But there is knowing and knowing: being aware of what one knows “naturally” is reflexive insight (Giddens 1994). This book encourages reflexive insight into environmental discus­ sion, and specifically insight into the language people use to write about the environment, and how that language transmits feelings, shapes ideas, and connects visions.