Language is our primary method of communication and envelopes a realm far beyond the words that it comprises. Language, per Sonia Nieto, “embodies and reflects particular power relationships and sociopolitical realities.” As a result, language is riddled with linguistic bias.
This linguistic bias is evidenced in the popularity of specific words, the roots and culture the words develop their semantic value from, and the context within which the words are employed. This linguistic bias is evidenced primarily through the connotation of the word or the word or its diction is being derived from a preexisting word. This is showcased in words such as ‘holy’ which are direct derivatives of religious texts and consequently imbue the context the word.
Determining linguistic bias is important when critiquing news sources, legal documents, or academic articles. The author of these works and many others attempt to use neutral language to allow the reader to develop their own beliefs without the biases of the writer. However, no matter how hard the author tries to remove it from their work, it’s almost always evident from their word choice and target description. This brings up the question of whether or not language can ever be truly neutral when describing subjective events.
Some argue, such as Sonia Nieto, that language is inherently biased and consequently neutral language does not exist. While impossible to prove, it is worthwhile to consider language as a tool that can unconsciously implant bias to the reader, and the author should be extremely cautious of creating an improper reaction from his reader through language’s inherent bias.