"changing behavior seems like an anarchist thing to me"
interesting, i wouldn't necessarily think of changing behavior as either anarchist or un/anti-anarchist. (of course the particular changes one makes in their behavior might be considered one or the other.) can you elaborate?
i like the question.....hmmmm....i'd say "both" and "neither", depending on a lot of factors (which i'll need to give some more thought to before i can come up with anything more satisfying than that!)
to echo ba@, i think both can be the case, and neither is necessarily the case. context.
idpols seem to make the very strong assumption that changing language will somehow change behavior, and i seriously question the usefulness of that approach. as i may have mentioned elsewhere, i do not give words the "power" that many seem to give it. i tend more towards george carlin's take on it:
i can't speak for dot, but this question was posted after i kind of asked it in a comment to another question. so here's my take on the question (if not an answer):
i don't see it as related to the structure of language, i think if it more as the (coerced?) use - or not use - of particular words. for example, is there an expectation that getting someone to use a non-gendered pronoun (how that happens is another issue, one that i find often problematic) actually changes the way that person behaves - or more importantly imo, thinks - around gender? does getting some white racist to stop using the word "nigger" change their mind/behavior around race relations?
of course i don't know the answer, but i have my doubts. i do think that the manner in which a person comes to change their language can definitely impact whether or not that is accompanied by a change in thought/behavior. when they are pressured or coerced into such a change, i doubt there would be much behavioral change, unless behavior was likewise pressured/coerced into change. but if they arrived at that change in language through their own observations, experiences, relations, desires, etc, then i think there is a good chance that the change in language resulted from a change in ideas and behavior.
i have an old uncle who is gay, and he has always used the word "faggot" more than anyone i have ever known. his use of the word has absolutely nothing to do with sexual preference; he uses it the way i did as a kid (before i even had an understanding of sexuality), to indicate weakness or lack of courage or similar. yet some people never cease trying to get him to change his language. even if he ever did acquiesce and change his language, would it change his behavior? i'm not even sure how it could (get him to stop being sarcastic and acerbic?), but not fucking likely.
shinmin, one of the points of leaving a question vague (although yes, it was a response to f@'s comment on another thread), is to allow people to answer the interpretation of it that they find most interesting.
f@, i think the point of policing language is that when dealing with masses of people, attempting to constrain the worst context becomes justifiable. obviously this is stupid to me on a number of levels. but i think it's worth noting that the difference is in the scale/level of alienation. if someone who doesn't know your uncle is reading something he's written online, then that person can take faggot in a painful way. it's an attempt to homogenize culture, among other things, and that's a way i haven't thought of it before.
"the thoughts, the language, the behavior, the ways how, and the reasons why....all seem to merge and circle around one another"
BAA put where I'm at on this pretty well
I'm not sure if the goal in getting people to stop saying nigger is more to stop someone from being racist or just to stop having to be annoyed by their racist bullshit, but yes I would agree its naïve to assume there is a change in thought on that basis. the other day I asked my dad to not praise the boarding school that treated people who were mentally retarded as subhuman among other things. will this change how he thinks? no.. I'm still tired of hearing it.
interesting about your uncle funky, perfect example of why context matters. obviously this doesn't change your uncles meaning or intentions, the microcontext I suppose, but the macrocontext would be how the word came to mean "weak" in the first place.
when I think of what can change someone's behaviors, life experience comes to mind. the experience of seeing how these words affect others could affect how someone thinks and uses their language. not sure what to make of that... I think its just a good example of how intertwined these things are
"I think that changing language can change behavior to some extent, but I don't think it changes thinking. And I think a lot of times changing language can be a way of hiding a continuance of behavior that ought to change."
this is interesting, talked to my friend about it last night, at first we both immediately thought 1984 and newspeak, and in case you don't know the idea was to bend the meanings of plenty, truth, ignorance, slavery, freedom to where they mean nothing or refer to a definition beneficial to the government. she posited that yes not knowing a term for freedom or gay or trans could lead one to not be capable of conceiving of it. I disagree however, imagine you are in a cage, you will still have a desire to get out and be free, regardless of knowing the word freedom. that does affect your ability to communicate those ideas or about them with others.
she mentioned how not having a word for something like gay or transgender could indicate a non accepting environment or potentially cause one of these people to not be able to "solidify their identity" or "adjust or come to terms with themselves". I disagree with a few of these notions, there would be no adjusting or coming to terms in a truly accepting environment, it would just be another mundane activity or another thing that someone does to groom or decorate themselves.
in fact, I would bet that having words for these things significantly contributes these particular things to being a part of someones identity more so than any random thing they would like to do and do. or maybe the chicken came before the egg.
if one applies the same principle to race it honestly looks kind of ridiculous. "we should continue to have racial categories because that helps racial minorities to accept themselves for who they are". well that doesn't make any fucking sense, and kinda sounds racist. I would argue the categories of race and gender (as the role or behaviors you are expected to show) do a lot more harm than good even if those statements were true. it also shows how those categories have been reified by language. as dot said on a question I asked long ago, we could have just as easily grouped ourselves on something like hair color or eye color.
as for changing behavior in the long run, I do believe that over time continuing gendered pronouns but using them as people ask you to, will lead to an erosion in the importance of gender but perpetuates the idea that certain behaviors "add up" to being this or that identifying group. for that we would need totally gender neutral language which is a huge can of worms for any language other than English as ingrate mentioned. I also think it would take generations for reasons ingrate mentioned, but I do think that language would be the first step towards a world in which when a black and white person approach each other, they don't view that as being an important distinction, just like if another person has different eye colors they aren't a different "group". one could argue that cultural differences can be significant between races but I think this is actually a result of segregation be it enforced or not, not talking about a specific example, any of them. in fact, seeing behavioral, dress, taste in music, or food, as being things that add up to being a certain racial category isn't that far off from a group of expressions or physical characteristics making you a man or woman.
I'm not saying we should never talk about race, but when we do maybe work how we got here into the discussion and solution, instead of solutions that reinforce and perpetuate these categories.
with the romance languages, the perceived masculinity or femininity of the objects actually seems to not be so important always, example: dress in Spanish is vestidO, with an o, so actually calling them nouns that end in a, nouns that end in o, and irregular nouns, would take away the arbitrary assignment of gender to the sounds aahh and Oh. will I still think of it as masculine and feminine for the rest of my life? probably, but If I teach a young child using that language and that is all they are exposed to, I think they would find the assignment of gender quite ridiculous if introduced later on. actually you can see that in English speakers who know nothing of Spanish, when they hear nouns are all masculine or feminine, even pens and pencils, they are shocked and think its weird.