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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Question for the Day

Is combative language always more motivating than constructive language? E.g. "Are you ready to fight for equality in America?" versus "Are you ready to help build a more equal America?"

6 comments:

Lin said...

"Fight" is a word whose meaning has much more energy than "help build" has, but not entirely because of the combative/constructive comparison. There are other words, laden with energy, that are not combative, but equally motivating. For instance, "Are you ready to celebrate, pronounce, declare equality in America?"

JimII said...

It is time to fight for a more just America.

It is time to pronounce a more just America.

It is time to give birth to a more just America.

It is time to declare a more just America.

It is time to build a more just America


I don't know. Maybe I'm just more tuned for the confrontational language, which is very possible. But to me, using a very tired work like "fight" still sounds stronger, more provocative, then even the very creative language you suggested.

Matt Dick said...

"fight" implies you will overcome all obstacles to get it accomplished--that's a difference that is not necessarily tied to its violence.

It is time to build a more just America, though Hell should bar the way!

That is non-combative and yet just as evocative in my mind.

A quick disclaimer: that is an adaptation of an Alfred Noyes poem, I am not quite so eloquent.

JimII said...

See, I'm not so much looking at the suggestion of violence as the suggestion of an opponent. (Is giving birth violent? I think you could describe it that way, right?)

"though Hell should bar the way" certainly punches up the milk toast "build" verb, but doesn't it do it by presenting opposition?

But of course, obstacles don't necessarily imply adversaries.

Matt Dick said...

But of course, obstacles don't necessarily imply adversaries

And that's what I was going for. I can't imagine a verb having punch in the absence of any kind of obstacle.

Lin said...

well said