LISTEN TO EP.96
Linguistic Theft: How Redefining Words is Creating a Culture of Confusion
Should the meaning of words we’ve understood for centuries change? New definitions for words such as truth, recession, gender, assault, woman, and freedom are being assigned in an increasingly divided, “cancel culture.” Co-host Scott Young along with guest co-host Crissy Cochran discuss the issue of linguistic theft, the purposeful hijacking of words, changing definitions, and the use of those words as a tool of propaganda. If you’ve ever had your words used against you, struggle to find the right words to use in today’s “woke” culture, or want to know how to help your kids identify buzz words, join the discussion to learn how to navigate today’s cultural landscape with wisdom.
Welcome to The Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young, our co-host Dave Donaldson is out on assignment, but we have Crissy Cochran with us and she’s our communication director. And we’re gonna have a fascinating conversation today. You know, we’re here to see the influence of your life increase so that you can affect your world and the greater world. Let me ask you a question. Has anybody ever stolen something from you? If they have, it’s an empty feeling when someone takes something that is yours, without permission, thieves came through our neighborhood, they were breaking into cars. They broke into both of our cars and took our stuff away from our vehicles. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. Recently, we were in a staff meeting and Crissy was in conversation with us and she gave a term that I had never heard from before. And it’s about theft. The term was linguistic theft.
I’d never heard it before. And we’re gonna talk about what that topic is. And we’re not experts on this subject. We’re just two friends today on The Influencers Podcast. And we’re just gonna kind of let you come into the conversation that we had when we were off air. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about linguistic theft. So Crissy, we’re glad that you are here. We’re glad that you are an advocate for truth. We’re glad that you are a part of Mama Bear Apologetics. Maybe you wanna say what that’s about, but tell us about linguistic thefts. How did you get into thinking about it, doing a deep dive into it and explain to our friends today, what it really means?
Linguistic Theft: What is it?
Yeah. Thank you, Scott. Yeah, this is really fascinating. It’s a new concept for me, but I feel like after we’ve learned about it and dove into it, like our, our, our eyes have been uncovered and we’re like, okay, this is what’s happening. And you know, these, there are words, linguistic. That’s where we get linguistic from words that have been stolen, that we need to defend that we need to take back. Just like you’re talking about, like, you know a matter of thieves coming through your neighborhood and taking stuff you want that back, you feel violated even just actually I think it was last month, my husband’s car got broken into Scott and they, they took a number of items and we wanted that back. Now that was, those were items that could easily be replaced and there was no big agenda behind it, other than someone stealing our personal property.
But you know what, when it comes to words, words matter, they matter. And linguistic theft really refers to the stealing or hijacking of words, words that we all agree upon that are good. They change their definition. There’s a secular agenda behind it, and they’re using those same words as a tool of propaganda. And so we’re seeing right now, you know, in our culture words, like truth, love, female, male, marriage, justice, tolerance, racism, and, and the list goes on and it, and it’s like, you’re hearing these words with they’re redefining what they mean. And Scott, have you, have you been in, in a conversation with someone and they use a big word and they use it in a different way and you think to yourself, I, I don’t think that word means what you think it means, right? And if they’re so emphatic about it, like, no, this is what this means.
It’s kinda like you can’t have a discussion anymore because this conversation is at a outta context. So I, we’re gonna talk about kind of what we’re learning about in linguistic theft and how I came about this is my husband and I, you know, we’re raising three littles. So I’ve talked about them before we got our son who’s 11 and our twin girls who are nine. And you know, it is just our purpose right now is to, to love them, protect them and train them up to be, you know, Christians who love God, who love people who are grounded in the word who are gonna be influencers, right? In this world today. And, and when I look out into the culture and I see how words are used, I some kind of get really discouraged. Cause I’m like, man, they, my kids are gonna grow up and they’re just gonna get, go gobbled up in this secular agenda.
Confusion and Truth
They’re gonna be really confused. And that’s when over the past year, Mitchell and I have been diving into anything that’s apologetics, especially apologetics for kids. And that’s where I’m plugging in Mama Bear Apologetics, and which we hope to have them on this podcast. Yeah, that would be really great, but they really, you know, they have a podcast and they have some books about how to teach your kids to understand objective truth. How to identify cultural lies. And this one point is about linguistic theft. I’m gonna read this quote by apologist, Holly Ordway. She says, “once language becomes routinely distorted, it becomes increasingly easy to justify and promote evil while at the same time hiding behind positive words.” So what we see in our culture is these words, like I said, that we had all agreed upon, but they, they, they make these words and concepts and ideas, smooth sounding that they all sound like good, something that we would agree upon, but they are wrapped in these secular principles that actually anti-Bible, very ungodly.
And they are really being passed through like they’re Christian virtues and anyone promoting them. If anyone could see that these people too are just, they’re held captive by bad ideas. They’re held captive as well. And I really, and I will fight tooth and nail Scott for my children that they will not be held captive by these bad ideas. I, I do wanna read this. And second Corinthians 11 three through six, it reads, Paul says, “but I am afraid that as a serpent, deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” And so it was his cunning, his arguments, his words that deceived her in the first place. And it started with her mind. And so as we look at how words are used, and they’re not a social construct, they, they are, they mean something. They mean something to the Lord. They should mean something to us, but they are being hijacked and they are being stolen. What do you think about that?
Well, do you think that there’s a targeting of you, you call them good words, right? And life is a series of choices. We, every day we’re either choosing good or bad and bad leads us to evil. I think good choices lead us towards God. Do you think there’s a specific thought we’re gonna take a word that has a good meaning and we’re going to change the definition. So when we say that word, it doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
The Meaning Matters
Right? I, I do. I do. And I think that if you go back to the beginning of these movements, these, these radicals or activists, you know, most of the time, they’re not gonna just stand out on the corner saying completely what they’re standing for. They will cover it up with morality. They will first, they, there is a strategy and a scheme to take words, to get the masses all behind them to say, this is, we’re gonna start with that concept and idea that we all universally agree is good. Right? Because then that’s where the manipulation starts. and that’s, what’s so scary and confusing because soon enough people are like, they’re looking at these words or these phrases. When I listed some earlier, you know, truth and love yet love. We should all be for love. Right? We should all be for truth, but what are they, how are they really meaning? How are they, what are they really standing for? And so you have to be able to identify it for ourselves too. And I’m, I’m on a mission with my kids, man, to help them identify it and then uncover and ask the questions. What do you really mean by that? Because it cannot just, they need to identify what is truly righteous, not what just might sound righteous.
So when someone uses a word that you feel may have been hijacked, how do you clarify the conversation with them to try to get to the real meaning of behind the words?
Ask: What Do You Mean By That?
Well, I mean, I’m still learning, yeah. How to do this, but we’ve had a lot of conversations in our homes to where we might see a headline or see a quote, or see a post and go, like, the first thing I would ask is what do you mean by that? So when you say, let’s say right now, there’s there that’s assault on our freedom. We didn’t, what do you mean by assaults on the freedom? Because assaults means like a physical attack right. And, and what you’re standing for, you know, if like, if they’re standing for abortion rights, reproductive rights, right. And they said, this is an attack on our freedom. It’s like, that’s, let’s talk about that. And they could really objectively and thoughtfully without emotions go through the conversation to help unpack what that really means. Because look, if you’re talking about two different things you can’t have in a social setting a true conversation. And that is what linguistic theft really does, is that it’ll work in a way that it stops a discussion in its tracks because you can’t continue.
I, I find when I talk to someone and I try to simplify the conversation and they make it more complex, it’s often to make it harder, to understand, make it harder. Like I like simple words are all have meaning. And I like to simplify. So you, you have that conversation. Well, are you saying this? And the answer gets very complex and very long, for example, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but What is a Woman? It’s not a difficult definition. It’s an adult female. My, my thoughts, but when the answer is four paragraphs long, I just think that’s there because there’s a smoke screen. And there is a reason for that smoke screen. What are some of the, the key right now that would be in our culture and our headlines that would be being, being stolen or, or you by your definition or our definition, maybe being misused.
Objective versus Subjective
Right. Well, there’s, there’s a long list, but I’m gonna, I’m gonna point out just a couple, but when you look at the list right now, we could all see it in the headlines. And what’s been happening over the past several years. Truth. Right. Truth is meaning something to everyone else. It’s all different, love, female.
Okay. Can I stop? I just wanna jump in on truth. Can I just let me, yeah, because
There’s this phrase that’s used. Well, that’s my truth. Yeah. And if you have five people with their own truth and the truths contradict each other, just logically, one of them can’t be true, like right. And I hear people, that’s my, that’s your truth. And this is my truth. And then quite frankly, I love when the scripture says it is really the truth when you really, really understand truth. That’s how you find freedom. So if you can’t clearly define truth, you can’t really find freedom. And I just sorry for jumping in on that. But no truth is just it. I don’t think there is such a thing as my truth, your truth, the somebody else’s truth when they contradict each other, one of them has to be true. Right. And one of them has to not be true.
Exactly. And I get really kind of emotional and passionate about it. And I’m like, then it can’t be true for everybody. There’s only one truth. Yeah. Right. So you start like that. You can’t continue that even conversation about what truth is and you just take it a matter of faith. Someone says, well, the Bible’s true for you, but it’s not true for me. Well, that’s, that’s not how objective the truth works. You’re even uncovering the word objective and subjective. And I’ve been working with the kids and practicing games while we’re in the car of like, if I said, this is that objective. If I say bacon is delicious, is that subjective or objective? And like, they’re getting, they’re understanding it because what they are gonna come across in their adulthood is where people are taking phrases of truth objectivity. Okay. Or is it objectiveness Scott? I dunno, objectivity objective and then claim. Okay. Claiming it to be more sounding subjective to where you go, okay. You’re objectively wrong now. And I want them to be geared up as we all, as followers, followers of Christ to be geared up. Where did you get that?
Manipulating? Sorry. That was a great exercise that you just were going through with your kids. Did you just think that up? Did someone else give that to you? Because I’m just looking for a material that someone may be listening, going. I’d like to teach my kids some great stuff. Like Crissy’s engaged in.
Yeah. Okay. So that came from Jonathan Morrow. He came and visited my kids’ school into this whole parent university. And it was like, that was the beginning. This was last September. That was the beginning for Mitchell and I to be like, we’re gearing up the kids now to understand objective truth to this found in the Bible. There’s no arguing against it. And Jonathan is with Impact 360. And so that’s another plug for him. We’re gonna get him on this podcast. Yeah. Cause I wanna explore so much more with him, but we, you could do that with anything to where, because if you have someone arguing about objective truth, it kind, it sounds so silly to where if someone says like, if you, the objective truth about bacon, let’s say for instance, I’m gonna make this number up. It has 33 grams of fat in whatever pounds. And someone says, well, that’s, that may be true for you, but not true for me. Well, no, I’m showing you right here. This is the label. This is how it’s measured. It, it does, you know, like you start, you can’t have a conversation. It starts to sound quite “cooky”. Right. And so we’ve been having some fun games with the kids with that, and then laying out different statements and they have to tell a, tell us if it’s subjective or subjective statement
And your youngest child is,
Well, the twins are nine. Okay. So nine
Of nine, 11. And are the nine year olds picking up on this?
Yeah, they are. We, we did something in the car the other day. It was like getting hot, you know, most new cars have like they’ll tell you what the temperature is outside. Right. So it said, okay, it’s 93 degrees. If I say it’s 93 degrees, is that objective or subjective? Oh, that’s subjective. Okay. I’m like you guys, you’re gonna be growing up in a world where there’s some people that will tell you that. Well, it’s 93 degrees for you, but it’s not for me. And they go, that’s weird. I know. I know. So we just pick up little things. Hey, I’m all about teaching moments, Scott. And when they’re in the car is the best opportunity to teach your kids because they’re locked in, they’re buckled up and they can’t go anywhere. Mama gets preaching.
So tie your kids up. Or when you’ve got, ’em tied up, this is the best teaching moment. Right. I was just thinking, when you were talking about 93 degrees, I said, oh, well, those Canadian listeners, they will have Celsius going on. And there could be, that’s true. Different number.
They have a different truth. That’s right. That’s right. That’s
Right. So, so as, as you are an advocate for like bringing truth right. A real definition of words and advocating for less deception and more clarity how are we to help people get to the true meaning of words?
Be Courageous in the Truth
Yeah. Well, I would say for us, especially as adults in social settings, we’re gonna come across that. I think we have to recognize like, Hey, if you’re you need to have the courage and the bravery to speak up, you know, how many times is the Bible say be courageous, right? Be, be courageous in your faith, but also come at it with love and grace, right? We are to be the salt and light, but we need to first understand, or I’d be able to identify the word that they are using. The word that you know, is a core value or word that everyone agrees upon and be able to see how they’re covering up in morality and see how it’s being manipulated to where if you oppose that now you’re, you’re the villain, right? The opposing argument is the villain. And so you, I think that it needs to come into a place where you first start educated to where you can have that conversation of what that word means.
And, and when it comes to parenting and raising up this younger generation, I really want them to be just covered in love. Like there are people out there and if they are saying, no, this is what this means to me. And no, you are wrong. You are the oppressor. I mean, Hey, traditional Christian values right now are like being called the oppressor. like are be it’s being vilified. Right. And my kids need to get prepared for that. But as they’re probably gonna be attacked, I want them to respond with love and grace, we, we gotta do that. And, and it may sound on the other end where people are just not making sense. And we see it all over just like the documentary that you mentioned, right? What is a Woman? It just not make sense. I I’m sitting there watching that and I’m like, someone asked me, I can answer that in two seconds. I can answer that. It just does not make sense, but, but we need to be able to come at that with with rationale and with love and grace. And I think that’s how we’ll be influential.
God is the Word
It’s very interesting that when John, the, probably one of the closest disciples to Jesus was expressing the entrance of Jesus into the world. he uses in the beginning was the word, which is the expression of God, which is the communication of God. The Greek word “logismos”, or the logos of God in the beginning was the word, the communication of God. And the word was with God. And the word was God, because God deeply, desperately wants to communicate with his creation. And he deeply wants to be understood. And I think we find real truth in the person of Jesus. So all of the other conversations, I think we have to run them through Jesus, his understanding of life, his teaching of life. And I think as we understand him, really, that truth does set us free.
Absolutely. I love that. I agree.
Friends. We’re glad that you’re a part of listening and maybe you’ve got some thoughts on linguistic theft or some words I’m I’m even thinking of a Christmas Carol that we used to sing. “Dawn we now are gay apparel” and that word has been taken since that cultural use and words do evolve over time. But there seems to be an onslaught of what is truth and defining truth. And I think that people, that desire to influence this world need to be people of truth, stand up for truth, as Crissy said. And I want to thank you for spending this time with us and this conversation that we’ve had, and really pray that out of your life will come truth because the truth will not only set you free. It will set the world free. For The Influencers Podcast and for Crissy Cochran, I’m Scott Young.