Imagine living in a world designed to be free of conflicts and hunger? When fragments of memories are taken out from oner’s consciousness, how does one think and feel? When life is devoid of colors, will there be genuine happiness can be drawn out of sheer blandness? What is family when love is strange and is truly undefined? When your destiny is already pre-determined, what else challenges or excites you as the sun sets and rises the next day? What if one doesnt need money for survival- how long will you wish to stay in a pseudo utopian society defined by contentment and conformity? Yet, for Jonas, the one chosen to receive the burden of taking in the collective memories of the populace, itr’s how soon can he manage to escape when he begins to discover the dark secrets and painful truth amidst this seemingly ideal society as the Giver “who is the sole keeper of memory- finally reveals to Jonas the truth that lies beneath the word release which was thought to be a beautiful journey to Elsewhere. These are few questions that will help examine your conscience as the writer takes us to alternate world defined by contentment and conformity.
In what seemed to be a utopian community, people live in an orderly calculated manner following certain standards in their day-to-day life “where every aspect of it follows a community-based rule governed by committee of elders who determine every citizenr’s fate including the use of language appropriate for any given situation. After all, this is what they strived for Sameness – unity and comfort for every citizen within the society owing to what they perceived that peace can be attained when everyone is equal and the same.
The society runs systematically where every one plays a key role pre-assigned to him or her on the basis of oner’s strength and weakness. Defying the rules or falling short of the given standards will cause a member to be released. “which actually means Euthansia or mercy killing but is hidden from the publicr’s eyes.
Precision of language is the required norm for people in the community in their interpersonal relationship so that it functions accordingly. Even in expressing statement of apology, it has to be consistent and in accordance with the standard script. Also, there are accurate words to describe certain level of emotions in Jonas world. Hence, language is paramount that it has become a powerful tool used to advance the societyr’s agenda. Its creative manipulation and persuasive character has been too effective to make people believe in something that for them is the absolute truth. This is called Euphemism in English literature. Euphemism is commonly understood as the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt. https://truthandcharityforum.org/deadly-and-deceptive-euphemism/ Ashley Noronha, S.T.L. Ph. D. cand.
Part of the process, from birth to release, every member of the society goes through a transitioning phase each year until the age of twelve where a member is given a permanent role in the society deprived of freedom and free will. The members of the single family does not have biological relationship with one another. Thus, the true essence of a family bound by love does not exist unlike in our contemporary society where family plays a crucial role in an ideal society.
The Committee of Elders is said to be endowed with wisdom to run the society smoothly following their agenda of achieving peace and equality. To achieve this, they manipulate the minds of the people by letting them take a pill every day that will take away their memory, their capacity to experience pain, to love and to think logically. In short, some aspects of human beingr’s natural behavior have been deliberately removed which is riveting & unacceptable in the context of todayr’s current society. This is a thought “provoking scenario since in our contemporary society, we all aspire to live in a world where peace and harmony abound but if people are deprived of freedom and human rights it will most likely result in uprising and chaos. Politically speaking, Sameness is akin to Socialist form of government which is still being practiced nowadays by a few countries in the world like North Korea minus the removal of memories that is of course fictional in nature. Just like North Korea, Sameness society tends to isolate itself from the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, in John Lennonr’s most controversial song released in 1971 entitled, Imagine the lyrics of the song were strongly scrutinized due to various misinterpretations by people critical to the message of the song. However, Lennon himself had affirmed that the message of the song was nothing but a wishful thinking of a man to live a world where social constructs are removed so that division and war may no longer exist like in the world of Jonas.
Since Jonas exhibits the ideal character befitting for a future Giver he has been selected as The Receiver the most honored & revered job in the community but arguably carries the heaviest burden.
However, when Jonas began to discover the dark secrets of the community revealed to him by the Giver, he was compelled to device an escape plan along with Gabriel, with the help of the Giver. The awakening of Jonas conscience and awareness to the truth, had caught him in the crossroads of making a decision where escape is a must for himself and Gabriel to the outside world that is yet unknown to him, but he had already seen subconsciously during the memory transmission process done by the Giver. Did the thought of saving the community exist in Jonas mind upon escape? What was the place with bright lights he had seen from a distance while going downward ? The answer is up to us to interpret his ultimate fate after that dangerous escape.
There are words in every language which people instinctively avoid because they are considered indecent, indelicate, rude, too direct, or impolite. As the offensive referents, for which these words stand, must still be alluded to; they are often described in a roundabout way by using substitute called euphemism. ( Antrushina GB et al, 1985 English Lexicology).
Euphemisms! Theyre the worst. Or I should I say theyre a negative outcome benchmark? Euphemistic language is the timeless enemy of anyone concerned with clarity. Straight shooters such as novelist George Orwell and comedian George Carlin have blasted soft, vague language, including Carlinr’s classic lament that shellshock devolved into battle fatigue, then operational exhaustion, before finally morphing into the mouthful post-traumatic stress disorder. https://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170126-the-hidden-danger-of-euphemisms, Mark Peters.
So in the community of Jonas, there were plenty of subtle nuances in the use of language in the story so as to make the people believe into something vague and shady. The most intriguing one is the word release in place of death.
In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell criticizes the language of his day as ugly and inaccurate. He purports that mid 20th century prose was being used so carelessly that it had lost its genuine meaning and had instead become ambiguous and hollow.
https://truthandcharityforum.org/deadly-and-deceptive-euphemism/ Ashley Noronha, S.T.L. Ph. D. cand.
In the Philippine society, similar with other cultures in the world, the art of euphemism is applied almost in all aspects of the peopler’s daily communications in order to soften its potentially dreadful outcome. In Philippine politics for example, former president Benigno Aquino III often used euphemism in his public speeches so that people will be convinced of his ideas. Let alone his campaign slogan, Tuwid na Daan . Ironically, the current President Rodrigo Duterte is not fond of camouflaging his thoughts and ideas hence, he is sometimes misconstrued and lambasted by media for taking his words so literally. From this standpoint, euphemism without critical thinking ability makes people confused and gullible.
Words are deeds, wrote the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. They may often be used not to convey thoughts, but to perform an activity. The term that Wittgenstein coined for this type of activity is: language-game. Accordingly, in trying to understand President Duterter’s recent statements, it will be more useful to ask what her’s doing, rather than what her’s saying. https://opinion.inquirer.net/115479/dutertes-language-games
The advantage of euphemism however is more pronounced in the aspect of health as it touches human emotions and sensitivity by giving glimmer hopes amid uncertainties. Euphemism could be part of the medical code of ethics among health professionals in treating their patients. This is obvious every time we hear doctors making diagnosis and while explaining to the patient his/her health condition. In the study of human psychology, this is related to the notion that bad news will exacerbate the patientr’s condition. This I suppose is a universal practice in the healthcare industry all over the world.
However, to illustrate an specific example in the Philippine culture, it is a known fact that people from the upper social class often employ sophisticated medical terminologies in describing their illness just to be able to emphasize their social status. On the other hand, people from the lower class use common terms to describe such similar disease which sounds disgusting or gross and is often associated to being poor. Take the word skin allergy for the rich, while korikong for the poor. Itr’s euphemism at its finest!
When it comes to personr’s age, calling the person matanda or amoy lupa is rude and impolite. Hence, there is a need to sugarcoat them such as; may edad na , or senior citizen . In the case of death, passing away , rest in peace , now in the arms of our Lord are less painful to say than dead.
For human bodyr’s physiological functions, having period is pleasant to hear rather than saying menstruation , making love for sexual intercourse or not feeling well instead of sick . There are countless of words we use whether consciously or unconsciously in our every day communication purposively.
Filipino virtue does not seem to depict one that is straight forward; and interpersonalism and frankness is not quite seen in the general concept and culture of the people. Filipinos are known for their courteous insincerity. Likewise the concern for not hurting the feelings of others is approached by the indirect ways and imprecise vague words. https://davisnaimemason.blogspot.com/2015/12/14-euphemism-in-filipino-language.html
Thus, the general response and reaction varies depending on the circumstances, localities, and how it is delivered. There are many different factors to be considered when eliciting response from whom the word is addressed to such as; regional culture, religion, social class, demography, etc. Nevertheless, euphemism greatly influences our perception and judgement. From business to politics, media to religious institution, health and education, in our daily social interaction, the use of powerful linguistic tool is embedded so deeply. But one thing is certain, that when it strikes a nerve in our sensitive being “that word must be rude.
While it remains a fact that language is culture by itself, it is now empowered further by social media impacting our lives in many different ways fueled by technological advancement. Therefore, to be always relevant we should always be on guard on what is new to be able to filter the truth from lies.
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