Language and the Rationalization of Culture: Discourse and Apparatuses of Development

Yasraf Amir Piliang


Language as a cultural concept is not simply being understood as a ‘medium’ of representation of the world, but more importantly an inherent part of human thinking, discourse and practice. Development—despite its pragmatic connotation—is a particular form of discourse and practice. As a form of discourse, development systematically involves a practice of thinking, production of knowledge and exercise of power in changing and transforming the world. Language is one of important elements of discourse, through which man produces thoughts, concepts, formulas and knowledge that are greatly demanded in development. In addition, since development is generally understood as a systematic and ‘rational’ process of changing the condition of life, a particular kind of “rational language” is especially needed: the language of logics, scientific and objectivity. It is through rational or scientific culture that we can produce plans, designs, and road maps in development. Yet, this is not to say that “rationality“is the sole language of development. A particular ‘irrational’ or even ‘mystical’ language can be identified in various discourses of development. Hence, development must be seen as a blend of rational and irrational languages, in order to create the ‘truth’ of the world.

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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