When we talk, we say things that are explicit and direct, on the surface of the text, and we also say things that are in hidden and indirect, said in more deniable ways via subtext. Imagine that there was a “flattext” type of talk (or writing) in which subtext was much harder to reliably express and read. Furthermore, imagine that it was easy to tell that a speaker (or writer) was using this type of talk. So that by talking in this way you were
You are the only one using the verb "prevent". It is enough for context to make subtext either easier or harder, to raise the question of which one we prefer it to be.
I'm still having some trouble imagining how you *prevent* subtext. It's effectively private key encryption, right? The speaker encodes the message they really want to send, knowing that the intended recipient is equipped with a corresponding "private key" that lets them figure out the true message. (I suppose that the analogy breaks down insofar as everybody claims to have access to the private key and offers to tell you what the "dog whistle" really means.)
But insofar as sender and receiver have a prior chance to collaborate, anything can act as an encoding/decoding key. "I will say in very plain fashion that the sky looks a bit green today; you will take that to mean rise up and kill our oppressors, as I never speak of the color of the sky being other than blue!"
I don't know Lojban, but wouldn't flattext be similar to Newspeak? If the only allowed positive modifiers are "good", "plus-good", and "double-plus-good" there isn't much room for subtext.
Maybe off topic, but how could Lojban (or any other language) avoid subtext of the sort that Noko wrote about ? "Anything else I can get for you?" from a waiter to a table that's clearly done with their meal has the subtext "Can I give you your check now?".
It seems to me this is a function of context, not language.
I wonder how this relates to the low/high context cultural distinction.https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
I would guess that high context cultures - would benefit more from a flattext approach,- resist its introduction more, - may have found alternative solutions to the underlying problem.
Communication only happens re things on which listeners are uncertain. If every part of talk is always supposed to have the same feature X, then that feature doesn't communicate anything.
Why do you say that “the ability to regularly and openly use subtext is a sign of status and privilege”? Slaves are required to use subtext—to speak in a manner that conveys respect and submission, though they are not explicitly saying “I respect you, I submit to you.”
By the way, the idea that there could be a subtext-free (or even almost-subtext-free) way of speaking seems broken-backed. Recipients of speech will always draw inferences beyond what is said explicitly.
"Anything else I can get for you?" from a waiter to a table that's clearly done with their meal has the subtext "Can I give you your check now?". To spare their own feelings, most people would rather speak to low status people in subtext laden speech.
I would argue that subtext is often how they get status in the first place. Being able to say something without having to say it gets you plausible deniability/heads I win, tails you lose situations. (I've thought a lot abut this since your earlier writings on discretion)