A while back, I scribbled about the interconnectedness of language and thought. I said that I accept the notion that they influence one another – sometimes we think to speak, and sometimes we speak to think. But there is one thing I cannot, and will not, accept, and that is speaking without thinking.
In an even older post, I mentioned a belief in my culture that there are spirits within words that can make the intentions with which they are uttered, good or bad, come true. And because I share this belief, I impose on myself to give thought to what I intend to speak. I do not always succeed, but I try my best not to blurt out everything the moment they come to mind.
I take such great caution because, without care, the tongue can easily slip and make sounds that can get you in a lot of trouble. A friend of mine in college used to call the slipperiness of and the mess you get in with rambling on careless words “verbal diarrhea” (sorry if anyone is eating while reading, but to this date, I have never come across an expression better than this and the image it conjures up always helps to make me think twice before speaking!).
I also pay close attention to my choice of words because I have studied in psychology that errors in speech are usually reflections of repressed wishes. Coined “Freudian slips” to credit the late 19th-century to early 20th-century Austrian neurologist who studied them, they are understood to be revealing of your deepest, darkest, and often dirtiest, secrets that can be dangerous to yourself and those around you.
I think all these indications point to a path, the only path, you can take with a foot-loose tongue, and that is down slippery slopes! And once you are on that path, no one can tell how far you will fall or if you will ever be able to climb back up… and the chances are, no one will help you for the fear that they will be brought down with you by trying to save you.
Maybe slips of the tongue are much more malign than the lighthearted, carefree impression the expression may give.
And maybe because we can expect little cure once symptoms start to show, the best measure we can take is prevention through precaution.
Maybe we must spread the word that slip (of the tongue)-n’-slide (down slippery slopes) is not such a groovy move as it sounds.
In my mother tongue, it is called “catching someone’s raised foot (to pull and make them fall)” to nitpick on every slip of the tongue. But I often find it necessary to catch others’ raised feet before they put them down on slippery slopes. Let us not accept speaking without thinking by keeping tongues from dancing free steps.
Oh, but please know, I am against most kinds of censorship and I believe tongues should not be restricted from dancing completely… I am open to all sorts of creative word-plays, as well as cool dance moves, I just prefer seeing them in the right context where they can be appreciated properly.