Profile PictureMahmoud Rasmi

Language & Politics | October 2022

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Language & Politics | October 2022

Mahmoud Rasmi
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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Or will they?

In this course, we'll look at the tangled relationship between language and our political life. By reading thinkers from both the ancient and modern worlds, we'll trace the idea that the use of language is a political act on a journey that will take us from the Warring States period of Ancient China to the present era of bickering pundits.

Week 1

The rectification of names. Does a thing's name reflect its nature? What happens when names don't match what they refer to? Can society survive it?

  • Plato. Cratylus: 383a–390e, 427d–440e.
  • Confucius. Analects: 12.11, 13.3, 3.1, 3.2, 6.25.

Week 2

Language, persuasion, and social control. How is language used to persuade? Can rulers to use language to manipulate and control their subjects? Should they?

  • Orwell 1946. Politics and the English language.
  • Skinner 1972. Excerpts from Q&As on Behaviourism.
  • Chomsky 2000s–2010s. Excerpts from Q&As on Behaviourism.

Week 3

Language in the culture wars. Many linguists have taken sides in the culture wars of our times. Some of the most prominent public linguists have taken positions on the more conservative side. What are their arguments? Are they based on science or personal opinion?

  • Figueroa and Gillon 2017. Grammar Not-zi. The Vocal Fries (podcast).
  • Pinker and McWhorter 2018. Language and progress (interview).

Refund policy:

If you don't like what we do, we will give you a full refund. No questions asked.

Who we are:

I've been giving these online courses since June 2020. To date, I've had over 700 participants from around the world. If you want to read a detailed review of what the courses are like, check out what Anthony Smyrski wrote in one of his newsletter dispatches at the following link.

Thank you!



The course will be taught by Colin:

  • Colin Gorrie (@colingorrie): received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Arizona in 2014. Since the pandemic started, he has been teaching courses online on a mission to bring linguistics out of the ivory tower.Here's a video by Colin discussing Beowulf


  • Mahmoud Rasmi (@decafquest): finished his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Salamanca Spain. Between 2013 and 2020, he taught philosophy and cultural studies at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University. Now, he has decided to venture into the virtual world in order to give affordable classes online to people who are interested in studying philosophy in a non-academic setting. 

Here’s a sample class on Stoicism from an Introduction to Philosophy online course:

  • Philippe Caponis (@philippecaponis): Philippe holds an MS in Physics and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Paris. He taught philosophy at the American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University. He is interested in better understanding how scientific theories illuminate (and often reshape) philosophical debates about the nature of space and time, identity and material constitution.

Here’s a talk by Philippe titled: Three Philosophical Lessons from Modern Physics:

Dates and Schedule:

  • 3 weeks, once a week, 2 hrs per session.
  • The course will start on Tuesday, October 11, and will end on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.
  • Course Schedule: Tuesdays at 7 PM CET time (Central European Time).
  • Synchronous online course via Zoom.
  • Asynchronous: if you can't attend, you will have the option to watch the recorded lectures. 
  • Price: USD70$
  • Capacity: 35 seats

Important information:

You will receive the link to the sessions a few days before the course starts. 

Since we are not an institution, you will not be able to claim credits for the course. Many of you might also already be busy with your jobs and daily routine; as a result, we won’t be assigning any homework, exams, or papers. However, if any of you wishes to be assessed on the course material covered, we can arrange for the proper method and format in private.

The sessions will be recorded and uploaded to the DecafQuest YouTube channel as hidden. The links will be made available to those registered.


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A pdf including course details.

Number of sessions
Online via zoom
Session duration
2 hrs
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