Language, Timothy!
(Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

Language, Timothy!

Our choice of language can have important implications for how we think, react and problem solve. This crosses all disciplines from science, sociology, law, and pointedly, sustainability.

Summary: Language is an important tool in driving the transitions and arriving at appropriate solutions. How we frame questions is important - we look at examples including the 'hydrogen economy', diversity and inclusion, the built environment and ESG.

Why this is important: Incorrect framing of a sustainability question may lead to a suboptimal solution either in totality or for individual regions - for example, a solution being appropriate in the UK, but not in Nigeria.

The big theme: In order to transition to a more sustainable future it is important that we are asking the right questions to ensure that we have solutions and routes to get to those solutions that don't make our situation worse!



The details


In the popular 1980s BBC sitcom “Sorry!” the mild-mannered librarian Timothy Lumsden was frequently chastised by his father for swearing, to which he would profusely apologise.

Our choice of language can have important implications for how we think, react and problem solve. This crosses all disciplines from science, sociology, law, and pointedly, sustainability. I am not just talking about using a word incorrectly.

If I announced, for example, that I was running a human resources business offering “personal services” rather than “personnel services” it would certainly impact how you thought about me, how you reacted to me and you might think I had a problem that needed solving.

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