Aesopian language

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Aesopian Language is communications that convey an innocent meaning to outsiders but hold a concealed meaning to informed members of a conspiracy or underground movement. For instance, Person X is known for exposing secrets in an organization, so the organization leaders announce, "any members who have dirty talking habits will be dealt with", warning Person X. It is based in reference to Aesop. It is referred to by Herbert Marcuse in his book One-Dimensional Man where it is used somewhat interchangeably with Orwellian language.[1]

In this context Aesopian Language refers to the idea that certain usages of language work to 'suppress certain concepts or keep them out of the general discourse within society'.[2] An example of such a technique is the use of abbreviations to possibly prevent undesirable questions from arising, e.g., "AFL-CIO entombs the radical political differences which once separated the two organizations."[3]

Within the context of Australian politics a term with very similar meaning is called dog-whistle politics, which describes the use of coded language to address voters' interests. Certain sections of the electorate will react strongly to controversial content if spoken of overtly, but may not be so attuned that they notice statements that appear neutral to outsiders. Dog-whistle politics uses phrases that speak to a sub-group without alarming the general population. For example, a politician may signal race or immigration views by using the phrase illegal arrivals to describe refugee-claimants.

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  1. ^ see H. Marcuse, "One-Dimensional Man". Beacon Press, Boston. 1991 (1964) p. 98
  2. ^ H. Marcuse, p. 96
  3. ^ H. Marcuse, p. 94