Speaking in tongues.

Position:EDITORS' NOTE - Editorial


Fifty years ago, Harry B. Hollins, a leading banker, publisher, and founder of the World Paper teamed up with C. Douglas Dillon, the secretary of the treasury under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and formed an international organization to develop policies that might prevent war and devastation. This year, the World Policy Institute, the parent of this magazine, is celebrating its half-century by paying tribute to five of our core themes--media and conflict, water scarcity, world financial risk, migration, and new security priorities. In this issue, our cover deals with the first of these themes by focusing on the use and abuse of language and how it impacts democracy.

For almost a decade, World Policy Institute senior fellow Susan Benesch has been studying dangerous speech, so it's appropriate that she should define our agenda in our lead essay. Next, our Anatomy of a Character explores the mutation of a single Chinese character over the last 3,500 years. Zimbabwean Tongai Leslie Makawa, known throughout the music world as the rapper Outspoken, and fellow musician Verity Norman discuss the connotations of the word "freedom" in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Addressing another of our core themes, the Map Room diagrams the forced migrations of the Soviet-era that left scores of languages in Russia on the brink of extinction. Hopping between Germany and Turkey, James Angelos details the ever higher linguistic hurdles European governments are placing in the path of immigrants. In Venezuela, Marco Aponte-Moreno and Lance Lattig describe how President Hugo Chavez has embraced the rhetorical tools of Fidel Castro to maintain power, using an autocratic vernacular and subjecting both supporters and opponents to nine-hour televised harangues. And for our Conversation, World Policy Journal travels to Paris to debrief Assia Djebar, an Immortelle of the Academic Francaise, on the contrasts between her mother tongue of Arabic and the French...

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