Language Redux


  • Pip Thornton



How much are words worth in a digitally networked society? How has the language we use to communicate and express ourselves become infused – and indeed compromised – by the pervasive and invasive neoliberal market logics of proprietary tech companies such as Google? It might seem like an obvious received wisdom to say that the value of language is subjective; irreducible to – and unconstrainable by – financial quantification, and that language is not fixed – in meaning or aesthetic value – but rather it is fluid, liquid, limitlessly deferable. But these are assumptions that do not take into account the forces and logics of ‘linguistic capitalism’, whereby words are given an economic value, and auctioned to advertisers through Google’s AdWords platform as tools with which to claim and colonise the prime locations on a search results page. This contribution presents an artistic intervention as a response to the commodification of language and a critique of linguistic capitalism.