If one does not pay attention to the words that one uses then it becomes very easy to isolate oneself (even if not alone, then within one group of people whom all speak the same). The most extreme case of this is in speaking another language than those that surround you, but communication of another sort is always possible, but some will immediately dismiss a person for speaking that which they do not understand. I am thinking more about language that is understood, but easily drives people away, alienates or offends. Excessive cursing, use of derogatory terms, insults, etc. are all means of creating an island around oneself and one's peer group. Is this conscious? Or do some people really not see how their use of language effects their interactions with those around them?

I am particularly conscious of this with the students that I work with and with my peers. I ask them when they flippantly use a term like "gay" or "retarded" if someone overhearing this might be offended by it. Some people I ask say if others are, it is their problem because they are just words. Words hold power though and not acknowledging one's power of speech is dangerous. Especially if one is in a position of privilege, using speech that may hurt someone not of that privilege is ignorant and uncaring. We are already divided by power, words can be used to bridge these disconnects or to make them deeper. And often it is in moments of being unaware that the latter occurs.