Verbal Hygiene

Verbal hygiene is a video work that shows a filmed speech therapy for kids. The name of the work is a term taken from a book with a same name written by Deborah Cameron. This book is a collection of various discourses and practices through witch people are trying to ‘clean’ the language and make its structure or use more compatible with their ideals.
Defining standards of using one language is one of rare domains of social interaction where are norms not viewed as arbitrary but as natural and inevitable. Fighting for a specific way of using a language rises questions about who writes these rules, for whom, what is that that they are prescribing and for what purposes? Dealing with these questions this work is dealing with the linguistic itself and with the politics of verbal hygiene which go together with the questions of authority, identity and activity. Need of a verbal hygiene to regulate the language and to determine standards seems innocent but it hides many deeper social, moral and political anxieties. This work shows an activity of a verbal hygiene that is imposed to people since their youngest years. That which is showed here is a treatment of a speech therapy where a therapist shows to a four-year old child how to ‘correctly’ pronounce words. This is an attempt of involving a child in a society which do not tolerate nor accepts abnormalities in pronunciation. Questioning linguistic conventions or simply not fitting into them is a sign of incomplete or wrong socialization. Like many other superficial customs like conventions and tradition, rules of language often contribute to exclusion and intimidation because those who have mastered a specific practice use it for intimidating others. This work rises questions that are usually ignored or invisible because these linguistic norms have become a natural and conventional way of behaving. Questioning these normative practices no matter if they are taken for granted, has a potential to put a light on relation between the language, the society and the identity.
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