In The Giver, what does "precision of language" mean?
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The community in The Giver placed great value upon precision in communication - choosing words that conveyed easily understood and measured meanings. In the community's drive to achieve Sameness, it became vital that everyone understood precisely and exactly what was meant by everything that was said by someone else.
This is why Jonas's parents reacted as they did when Jonas asked if they loved him.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. “Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!”
"Love" is an emotion. It is a word that can mean many different things to different people. This made it completely unacceptable for use in the community that could not deal with variety or difference.
In Lois Lowry's society of The Giver, "precision of language" is nothing short of thought control as it prohibits the free expression of emotion. For, emotional expression often leads to discontent and awareness of differences. During his training, Jonas is told,
"Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. ....We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others." (Ch.12)
And, as his instruction continues, Jonas realizes
[He] found that he was often angry...that they were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. (Ch.13)
The limitations placed upon the expression of people's emotions through "precision of language" results in the suppression of what composes an individual's humanness and unique soul. Therefore, just as color has been eliminated from the sight of the members of the community, so too have the shades of feeling been eradicated with "precision of language" in order that no discontent may be given expression in the controlled society.
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