▲ Professor Shin delivering a lecture. Photographed by Jun Uhnjin
On November 7, a special lecture titled “The Tug-of-War on Language — Discovering Hidden Ideologies behind Languages” was held at the New Engineering Building. The lecture was hosted by Korea University Innovation Center for Engineering Education (KUICEE), as a part of the lecture series “Humanities Lectures for Engineers.”
In the lecture, Professor Shin Jiyoung (Korean Language and Literature) discussed mechanisms behind the formation and usage of language. Professor Shin used the expression *tug-of-war* to describe the tension that is generated when selecting words or forming new expressions between individuals and within the society. During conversations, people have an intense *tug-of-war* inside their minds, contemplating on the choice of words, syntax, and tone of the language. Furthermore, within the society, people endeavor to reach a societal consensus in language acquisition.
Professor Shin stated that language is not a mere tool of communication but has great underlying meaning and power. Due to such reason, the choice of words can be greatly related to a fight for hegemony between people and ideologies. For example, she described that the reason people stopped using the word *gak-ha* — excellency in Korean — when calling the president, is greatly related to contemporary democratic ideologies.
Professor Shin ended the lecture with a comment: “As language is not a golden rule, we should acknowledge that it can change according to the opinions of the society. Moreover, it is vital to understand the great influence language can have regarding the power and ideologies it beholds.” Indeed, the lecture provided an insightful opportunity to understand the background ideologies lying behind the usage of language.