The banning of the word meep in Danvers High School raised many questions relating to the use of language and words. Many students, teachers, and the public reacted to the principal’s decision terming it unfair and unrealistic. The principal argued that students used the word to bring destruction in school. Students on online activities such as Facebook and the likes used the word ‘meep.’ Urban dictionary for slang and subculture shows that the word meep does not mean anything; instead, it can be applied to mean what a person want it to mean.
Dr. Smith argues that the word ‘meep’ does not mean anything. The students interviewed argued ‘meep’ is not a real word. This implies that the applicability of the word changes with respect to the situation and the place of use. According to Dr. Smith, the fact that the word ‘meep’ does not mean anything or refer to anything in particular implies that the word is ambiguous and has countless definitions. This implies that the use of this word is applicable in various situations that can include offensive language. The word is considered bad and offensive. Offensive language includes the use of profane words, vulgar language and even non-English words that evoke strong emotions. The word ‘meep’ according to Dr. Smith is unreal yet it evokes emotions from the school and the public; thus, qualifying the word as one of the offensive words (Wind, 2010, p.8).
Napoli and Lee argue, “Thought is thought….Language is language.” This implies that the connection between thoughts, behavior, and language does not exist. Thoughts determine language and; therefore, no person can communicate a language without involving thoughts in his language. Without thoughts, language might never exist. However, human beings do not verbalize whatever comes in their mind implying that they do not require thoughts in our language. This begs the question of how we can communicate our ideas to other people or even implement these ideas(Wind, 2010, p.8). Additionally, Lee and Napoli argument on the absence of language and thought relationships exemplified by the fact that there are non-English words used by English speaking people yet they understand their meanings.
In relation to the idea that there is no relationship between language and thoughts, Dr. Smith would react to these arguments in two ways. First, she will accept that there is no relationship between language and thoughts. This is because a word like ‘meep’ is non-English, ambiguous, and meaningless yet people use it and still understand each other. If thoughts were related to the language, then this word would not be understood because of lack of an English word that could make its understanding and analysis easier. Dr. Smith would also contrast this by arguing that spoken words come from our thought. Without thoughts, therefore, we cannot communicate with a word that lacks an English meaning.
Banning the word ‘meep’ in Danvers High School is criticized as an unrealistic decision. However, basing this decision on the fact that language influences thoughts, the principal’s argument that the students use the word to disrupt the school, gains some meaning. The use of the ‘meep’ word by students had meanings that are only understood by them; thus, locking the school principal and administration outside their communication. Murray, Danvers principal argue that the word had caused Facebook disruption, which in turn disrupted the school. The word is non-English, and thus, extracting its meaning is difficult; students, therefore, use the word to refer to anything that they are interested in. The principal banned the word probably because of its ambiguity (Geert, et al., 1988, p.15).
The words found in urban dictionary affect English language negatively. The words have multiple meanings and are only best understood by those who use them thus locking the rest of the audience outside the conversation. The words lack English meanings that make their understanding and analysis difficult. They negatively change the language since they can apply to many situations and events. They mean anything that the user intends them to mean. This multiple application violates the English language code and may lead to neglect of the official language because people find this terms simple to use.
Language is a mode of communication that influences every individual either positively or negatively. It is social, thus can socialize both positively and negatively. Language is dangerous to children. The behaviors they exhibit are as a result of their internalization of language and tone. The Women’s and Children’s Health Network suggests that critical words used are damaging and confusing to the children. The language used by adults and media can evoke feelings of anger, fear, insecurity and low self-esteem. The language used in children should aim at fostering positive behavior thus the choice of words is crucial.
Conclusively, language is dynamic and the English language faces threat from the ambiguous words developed by the youth and society. Several people and organizations have responded to these ambiguous words in different ways. Attempts to keep the English language pure resulted in different decisions made by individuals and institutions like Danvers High School.
Adriaens, Geert, Steven Lawrence Small, Garrison Weeks Cottrell, and Michael K. Tanenhaus. Lexical ambiguity resolution: perspectives from psycholinguistics, neuropsychology, and
artificial intelligence. San Mateo, Calif: Moran Kaufmann Publishers. 1998.
Cowles, H. Wind. Psycholinguistics 101. New York: Springer Pub. Co. 2010.