Viewpoint: Dr.Larry Burriss, Take Back The Language

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Take Back The Language
08/03/2020

I read a couple of articles the other day telling me I should avoid certain fairly common emoji because they have sexual and X-rated meanings. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what these supposed meanings are, but some of them involve smiley faces, pieces of fruit and a couple of animals.
And then I got to thinking, there are lots of colors, words, letters and symbols we are told have special, hidden, meanings. Some of these are really, really bad, and some are really, really good.
But why should I let someone else decide for me what color shirt I should wear, what letters of the alphabet I should not use,and what I supposedly mean when I wear my hat a certain way.
So, I suggest we take back the meanings, and make them say something else.
Take, for example, the letter “Q.” Someone, somewhere, apparently decided for all of the rest of us the letter is a sign used by white supremacists. Well, let’s take the letter back, and decide it really stands for “Quality.”
Suppose everyone started wearing the letter Q, started putting it on bumper stickers and displayed flags with the letter. Pretty soon no one would know what it was supposed to mean, and the letter could go back to being the somewhat quirky letter it always has been.
So parents, I suggest you find out what those “dirty” emojis are, and start using them. It will sure embarrass your kids, and you can ask them, “Well, who decided this particular smiley face means something sexual? I think it means something else. I say it means I think it’s going to rain.”
Several years ago there was a somewhat successful program called “Take back the night.” I suggest we start a similar program called “Take back the language.”
And we can start with the letter Q and certain smiley faces.
I’m Larry Burriss.

Larry Burriss, a professor in Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication and president of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, welcomes the crowd before the induction ceremonies at the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters conference in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)