our words make worlds

David Crystal Lecture 2017

The inaugural David Crystal Lecture 

We are delighted to welcome Dr Lid King to give the inaugural David Crystal Lecture, held in conjunction with the University of Westminster and the Language Acts and Worldmaking project.

Dr Lid King was the first recipient of the David Crystal Trophy for outstanding contribution in the field of languages, presented at the CIOL/IoLET Awards Evening in November 2016.

The Language of Hate by Dr Lid King

One of the main motivations and indeed justifications for language learning is its power to enable us to communicate and to understand the other. But it is not always the case that language is used for mutual understanding and love. It has often been a weapon used by those who aim to confuse, to undermine and ultimately to destroy. Such language of hate has if anything become ‘normalised’ by the massive expansion of online communications as they are exploited both by those in power and by the anonymous purveyors of verbal intimidation.

In this talk we will reflect on the growth of online hate speech – historically and in the current period – and, more importantly, consider ways in which people are already developing a counter narrative and seeking to spread positive messages about the rich and diverse world in which we live.

Central to that ambition is language and its power to bring clarity and truth:

'Clear language – lucid, rational language – to a man at war with both truth and reason, is an existential threat,… a direct assault on his obfuscations, contradictions and lies. …(As) we know to our cost: without clear language, there is no standard of truth. And thats what language means to a linguist. Those who teach language, those who cherish its accuracy and meaning and beauty, are the custodians of truth in a dangerous age.'  John Le Carré

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