The power of the word Culture of Peace

/, Notes of interest/The power of the word Culture of Peace

Language is a communication tool that can be used either to generate peaceful coexistence between people and their communities, O well, to create and develop different forms of violence.

It is known that the offense, The discrimination, the intolerance, the lie, devaluation and exclusion, manifested both gestural and verbal language, may be the beginning of an escalation of violence whose outcome is always unpredictable.

Conversely, speeches in which values ​​of humanity as the search for truth are observed, justice, the colaboration, solidarity and respect for differences contribute to interactions that produce the progress and development of societies and install a culture that works with Peace.

Nowadays, we can see that in several countries are facing a culture of debate, instead of a culture of dialogue and integration: “The firm belief that there are two versions for each topic -we remember Devorah Tannen- It promotes the idea that there is a different version, thus feeds the doubt and, thus, the veracity of facts ". This particular way of looking at reality, through a binary mode, It leads to deny undeniable facts for both science, as for history, always looking and warlike language (attack, deal, to struggle, shoot, point, fight) the introduction of a single point of view, own and building an image of the other, who is to undermine or destroy.

In this frame, it is necessary to build a culture of sustained peace in a language that encourages the encounter, socialization, the dialogue, no longer between two antagonistic forms, but between the different social and cultural ways of seeing the world. This requires the language of peaceful resolution of conflicts.

To achieve this goal, arises the need to revise the language of the speeches spanning democratic societies in Latin America and the world. This is to reflect on the discourse of power, represented by the speeches of the media, political speeches and speeches of social referents, since these depends partly ideological and cultural formation of societies. Indeed, is not less than the impact that these discourses of power acquired in building a responsible and conducive to solving human conflicts peacefully and constructively citizenship.

It would therefore be valuable to the media, the schools, governmental and non-governmental organizations recognized in their speeches, which they are expressions of coexistence and which, of discrimination, linked to the generalization, prejudice or stereotype, transmitted most often by genuine ignorance.

It is true to say that in these times these classic powers of the word Dick Van proposed in his critical discourse analysis, people joined that, from its individual character, and from their subjectivity disclose their ideas and beliefs through the massive use of social networks, and it often happens that when expressing their views using violent forms or stereotyped. In this case, frequently it observed the silence of those who for cultural or ideological training not accept communicate that way, thus leaving networks, linked the power of those willing to disputes, offenses, and slowly it goes excluding the word of the conciliators, peaceful, those seeking the authentic and plural exchange.

Confident that, if we increase awareness, through knowledge and use of expressions linked to integration and inclusion, associated assertive communication, to be able to express ideas without seeking to offend, the links will be favored and will prevent violence in its various forms and at various levels of society: education, journalistic, political, Community, institutional, inter alia.

Why do we focus on language to build a culture of peace? Because the close link between language and uses sociocultural identity of individuals is evident. already 1926 Valentin Voloshinov insisted that the language, besides being a set of forms, It was also an excellent vehicle for communication and socialization of ideas and concrete visions of society. Clearly,, if we work more constructive uses of language and dialogic, modify not only the way of seeing reality or ideas but reality itself.

If faced with a conflict, language use does not lead to conciliatory forms or consensus, this conflict will worsen, and reality could be very different if we look from the use of expressions that lead to solutions that benefit the majority or in the service of the common good language.

In this document, we seek to prevent gender violence, domestic, institutional through greater awareness of language and its effects not only on large groups of power but on citizen participation, to progressively reflected in the subjective and social identities a change of cultural paradigm: of violence to a culture of coexistence and peace.

The language that transforms realities

A brief history. In recent years, there was the language sciences from a range of disciplines such as pragmatics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and textual semiotics concerned with investigating how the uses of language contribute to the formation of cultural identities and the production of concrete ways of understanding, to maintain and transform social reality.

With the support of these sciences. we seek to offer what uses language favors building a culture of peace, How can we foster a critical awareness against the use of language discrimination, of concealment and deceit. In other words, How can we use a collaborative language with a democracy that seeks equity and harmonious coexistence between people and their different ways of seeing the world.

Why we do it? We have reached the XXI century we have witnessed genocides, wars and various destructive actions. We have witnessed the destruction of cities, villages, the pain of families and their communities.

Regrettably, yet the world is still in the dark capsizing possibility of a third world war. It seems to pretend to live in a fair world, peaceful, respectful and harmonious is a utopia, Nevertheless, it is not.

Es valioso recordar a Mahatma Gandhi “Cuida tus pensamientos, because they become your words. Use your words carefully, because they will become your acts. Watch your actions, because they become your habits. Watch your habits, because they will become your destiny ".

uses violent language

Then, We describe some very common uses, invisibilized, that discourage, because they act with destructive power for society as a whole.


It is social images that supposedly characterize a group of people. Stereotypes can refer to many aspects of social life: the religion, nationality, sex, The ethnic group, sexual orientation, inter alia.

For example, when it says "all Colombians are ...", the stereotype is built on the basis of nationality. There may also be based on gender stereotypes, as when it says: "All women are ..." or "all men are ...".

Very often, read on social networks such as stereotype expressions: "All immigrants are ...". "All Jews are ...". "All Muslims are ...".

Stereotypes deny the particularities of people, their individualities and instead a generalized characterization is supposed reaches all individuals in the group that is being referenced is located.

Recall that certain negative characteristics attributed to a specific group can be the beginning of a painful path exclusion, persecution and death.


It is to establish a single category of seeing the world, own, and that this form is presented as the true. This unique way of seeing the world installs the idea that dialogue is not possible, and therefore the only way is to oppose what is different.

El concepto de etnocentrismo combina la creencia en que la propia cultura es superior a otras, along with the practice to judge other cultures with the standards of a specific culture. In this sense, people or people tend to describe the beliefs, customs and behaviors of their own culture in positive terms stereotypically, while the customs and beliefs of other cultures are described negatively.

There are various forms of ethnocentrism, between them:

  • ethnic ethnocentrism: think that members of one's own culture or ethnicity have a different genetic makeup of other human beings and that makes possessing superior to the rest. Throughout history this vision provoked humiliation, and death of many peoples.
  • linguistic ethnocentrism: think that the language is more complex, subtle and suitable for thinking that the languages ​​of other peoples or communities. other different languages ​​are despises the own, to the point that many of its speakers hide their own tongues for fear of scorn or impairment of other members of the community to which they belong.
  • religious ethnocentrism: think that religious belief itself is superior to others in the sense that it is the only true, It is the other fallacies practices and beliefs. Wars for religious themes are held even today.


What seeks generally pejorative, and insult in particular, what's your objective? You could summarize by saying that his goal is to establish a cultural superiority. It is first through stereotypes, categorizaciones, identity features, these qualifications harm the individual in his very being, in its deepest essence.

It is possible to find several ways to disqualify a person:

  • Use derogatory nicknames:

Pellet, underpants, ParaGUI to referring to Bolivian citizens, Chilean or Paraguay.

  • Disqualifying cultural modes related to music, aesthetic productions, uses and customs of a generation.
  • "He is old, You can not learn "
  • "Young people are not interested in anything"
  • Dispossess people of inherent qualities of human beings, and use words or expressions referring to animals.
  • "That person is a donkey. Understands very little "
  • "That person is a beast. Hardly understand anything "

We think that only taking into account the understanding of verbal violence, we can know what the verbal culture of peace. A simple comparison between the two notions reveals first, cohabitant and the communication is "valorising" for partners, injury or offense, instead, harms the very person who enunciates. Verbal violence seeks to voluntarily destroy the other sometimes without much awareness that in turn exerts who will become a victim of its own approach.

positive uses of language in favor of the Culture of Peace.

Communication in harmony lies in a reciprocal agreement, where participants verbal interaction build and defend each other image.

The language of coexistence is a positive contribution to building the image of the speaker and the speaker and the result is the enhancement of self-image and another and is vital for social cohesion.

We share some examples:

verbal courtesy

It is an indisputable fact that the way to tell it affects the delivery method. So, the use of verbal politeness sometimes becomes a valuable negotiating tool. Observe the use of linguistic mechanisms through which manifested verbally respect:

  • Uso de fórmulas lingüísticas de intercambio verbal al servicio específico de la courtesy as “please", "Thank you“, "see you tomorrow".
  • Using minimizers and diminutives:Debo hacerle una pequeña objection”. "I wish you a preguntita"
  • litotes (denying a word or a sentence the meaning is softened):Su argumento ofrece not a few difficulties”.
  • Use the imperfect or conditional formulas to avoid direct application: “Me would like hacerle una pregunta”, “¿I would want informarnos cuál es, in his opinion, the source of the problem?”, “Yo le pediría he was rigorous in the interpretation of our position…”.
  • Apology to an interruption: “Sorry to interrupt, but…”.
  • Using conditional syntactic constructions that restrict what said: “If you allow me, I would carefully explain my idea about”.
  • Using impersonalizaciones with which assertions and opinions dim: “Cuando one no sabe qué hacer, You should seek advice”, “Must recordar que…”, “According to the study, be somewhat de manifiesto que…”, “It can afirmar que…”.
  • Relievers use of adverbs: “maybe“, “Maybe“, “Probably“.

Conversational maxims

Además de conocer y poner en funcionamiento las reglas de cortesía verbal enunciadas anteriormente, that is to say, resources and strategies available to ensure that the language communicative exchange succeed as social interaction, no maximum communication specialists say conducive to establish communications:

  • not impose ideas,
  • give options,
  • make the caller feel comfortable,
  • be polite,
  • be relevant,
  • not to mention more nor less.

Words and actions Paz
When we interact we suggest that our language allows:

  • Enable and sustain dialogue channels, promote listening, and promote freedom of expression with respect for diversity of opinions.
  • Encourage respect, avoiding any expression of prejudice, stereotype or generalization.
  • Highlighting cultural identity as a well-known and expand, and turn, encourage and appreciate other cultural identities.
  • Promote consensus spaces, and resolving conflicts peacefully.
  • Rejecting all forms of discrimination.
  • Stimulate all kinds of collaborative work, using expressions like: US, we build, we ...
  • Discourage children from all types of lies, always seek the truth, love justice and peace.


In conclusion, let's say the approach brief expressions of the notion of collaborating or not with their own communication of a culture of peace can hardly be limited to a mere lexical exercise. This phenomenon is clearly not only linguistic, It is also socio-cultural and even anthropological and deserves a deepening that will help us understand the world in which we live.

Whatever your forms, daily, monotonous, violent, the rhetoric, literary and picturesque, far from being neutral, expressions of courtesy and discourtesy, peace and violence, part of the speeches. For better or worse, with its values ​​and anti-values, language has a force capable of shaping society and what interests us is to build worlds where the word is always welcome, as people and their varied ways of seeing the world.

Marta Lescano (Foundation FEPA) with members of the Committee on Culture of Peace and Citizenship del Consejo Consultivo de la Sociedad Civil del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores.


  • Bourdieu, Pierre (1982): What It means to speak? Economics of linguistic exchanges. reason. Madrid, 1985.
  • Calsamiglia, Helena and Tusón, Protection (1999): The mean things. Manual discourse analysis. Ariel. Barcelona.
  • Escandell, M. V. (1996). Pragmatics. Barcelona: Ariel Linguistics.
  • Tannen, Deborah (1999): The culture of debate. From confrontation to dialogue. Polity Press, Barcelona.
  • Van Dijk, Teun (2011): Society and discourse. Gedisa, Barcelona.

Links to web pages:

Leave A Comment