Welcome to part two: The Nature of Language is Symbolic. If you haven’t had a chance to read Part I: How to Use the Marketing Industry’s Super Power’s Against Them, you should take a minute to do so. Don’t worry I’ll wait….


Read Part One and Just Need a Recap? Okay….Let’s do this!

Last week we imagined what a world would look like without language and realized how hard it would be to express your thoughts, feelings or experiences to others. Without language you would experience sever limitations in the once complex and dynamic individual relationships with others that once enriched your life.

The most common symbols we are exposed to are words and with them comes tremendous symbolism; ideas, concepts, feelings, define an object, define properties of another word, personal perceptions, and/or can add situational meaning. Language then can be summarized as a system of spoken and written “words” that we use to represent various aspects of our experience.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. Ludwig believed that without sharing certain attitudes towards the things around us, without sharing a sense of relevance and responding in similar ways, communication would be impossible. In other words, communication typically goes wrong because other people have the wrong picture of what we’re meaning, but that isn’t always the fault of the person(s) we are trying to communicate with.

It can take an age for two people to realize divergences over quite basic things. Problems of communication typically start because we don’t have a clear and accurate enough picture of what we mean in our own heads. We say quite meaningless or muddled or unelaborated things, which in turn can go no where in the minds of others.

In his book, Philosophical Investigations, he began to evolve his school of thought about language. Instead of believing that words allow us to just “make pictures with facts” he developed the idea that language is like a kind of tool that we use to play different games, or patterns of intentions. For example, if a parent says to a frightened child, don’t worry everything is going to be fine, they can’t know it really will be fine. They aren’t playing the “rational prediction from available facts” game. They are playing another game, the “words as an instrument of comfort and security” game.

The take away: All kinds of misunderstandings arise when we don’t see which kind of game someone is involved in.

The Nature of Language is Symbolic

The nature of language is symbolic. Have you ever tried to paint a picture with words? The relationship between thinking and language is interactive; both processes are continually influencing each other. Effective language is language that assists the reader (or listener) to visualize or critically evaluate what the writer (speaker) means because it was clear and precise. 

Let’s not forget that marketing decides its actions on the basis of a spectacularly dangerous delusion: that people know and can accurately describe the mental mechanisms underlying their decisions and actions. Do you feel that you can accurately describe to someone other that yourself why you do the things you do? For those super humans who said yes, can you do it 100% of the time? 

Manipulation Works but its Results are Short Lived

In order to understand if the techniques were effective you must first know the trick.

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

As we all know the trick isn’t as magical once it is revealed. Once you see the man behind the curtain, there’s no turning back.

Take a look at this Old Spice Commercial:

And the best comment award goes to…

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Guy Koplowich is my new hero. Thank you for the seamless transition into specialized language. Jargon, slang, lingo, colloquialisms and idioms are all examples of how we use language differently in different social contexts. Language is always used in a context. You may have attended a marketing class or seminar in which the instructor ran you through a “customer persona” exercise or worksheet. A “customer persona” is nothing more than figuring out who your audience is so that you can then get a better understanding of what the social context around your product is. It is best practice to always write or speak with an audience, whether a person or a group, online or off, in mind.

Important Note: If you look to your customer persona to tell you why your product and service is selling, STOP NOW. Creating a customer persona is a short term solution to a bigger issue in your marketing strategy. Contact me toady to fix the problem before it snowballs! Visit PaperlessMarketing4U.com to learn more.

Different social contexts call for different language responses. Standard American English, or SAE, follows the rules and conventions given in schools across the United States. SAE is typically used when one writes or communicates formally. Slang is a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing. It is a restrictive use of language in that it limits its users to a particular group and age demographic. Jargon on the other hand is not determined by these factors so much as they are determined by a specific profession or interest group.

In order for you to understand the context in which Guy used “words” to create jargon you have to have seen the Old Spice Commercial. It is another reason why he is my hero. The amount of impact [engagement] the comment has with its audience (at the time of this writing 190 likes & 10 comments) is a great example of how you too can use language to influence. The Old Spice commercial capitalizes off of the same concept, however they are using language to manipulate.

Anything is possible when you cut and paste.

In order to understand the magic behind the magician you must first know his tricks. Two types of linguistic strategies to watch for that are used to promote the uncritical acceptance of a viewpoint(s) are: (1) when they use euphemistic language to create misperceptions of important issues (2) when they use emotive language to manipulate emotions by carefully and intentionally choosing “words” which will arouse or evoke very specific feelings in us. This preys on our naturally learned, socially conditioned heuristics and as a result, your behavior, in order to server their own agenda.

Join Paperless Marketing in this unique blog series, “How to Use the Marketing Industry’s Super Powers Against Them” and learn how to accurately describe the mental mechanisms underlying your decisions and actions, use language more efficiently for your next marketing campaign and build a community around your product or service using authenticity instead of manipulation.

….continue reading….Part III: Time To Turn The Tables*

*[Link TBD]

Quick Update: The new face of Paperless Marketing has arrived! The website’s new focus is all about why I started Paperless Marketing, to “change the conversation” around how we market our businesses through educating and creating. The relaunch does just that by providing FREE resources, how tos and design inspiration to get you started! Visit PaperlessMarketing4U.com to learn more. 🤗

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