rhetoric of images and language

When we want to start a conversation, there’s always ‘something’ that we use as a ‘vehicle’ to communicate. This ‘vehicle’ could be anything, an object, weather, people, feeling, history, memories etc. Indeed we talk/negotiate through shared ‘object’, but I’m not convince that object can do our talking for us. Object or material can inform others about us, or relates others to us but might not give the correct meaning about us. As the ‘vehicle’ of communication could be anything, one might have different meaning to each others for various reason. Take an example of a french words, that been adopted in English. Some of words has been used in different context and been given different connotation.

When we write, and sometimes we not familiar with language of others we write as how we think. We might think in our native language and write in other language. Sometimes, some word does not give enough meaning in one language so we use the language that have the meaning we one or that could bring deeper meaning of what we wanted to say.

For example, ‘Buah Hati, Intan Payung’ in Malay language is use to describe a very special person. One could call someone ‘buah hati’ and ‘intan payung’ to show the meaning without saying you’re special. The connotation behind it, is much more that the meaning itself. For me, it relates to the Malay culture, it will take me back to my childhood time where my grandmother use to call me (not now because it is use a lot to call children than adult) and it also will connect to nostalgic memories of old movies. The words itself have much more meaning than the meaning it shows.

But…can a nation be identify through their language? I remembered a scene where I was on the way to level 20 with the lift. There 6 of us waiting in front of the lift and I can’t distinguish the nationality any of us just by looking at physical, we all look the same, all asian. When the lift arrived and we enter, one of the girl start talking in a language that sound very familiar to me but at the same time it sound kind of different in some words, my guess it’s Indonesian. I immediately get connected without knowing the girl. I get informed where the country this girl might come from. Through language, with some knowledge, I received an information. If I talk back, I will be informing the girl about my self.

Very similar situation to the use of visual/images, the connotation of visual elements give deeper meaning, than what we see on the visual surface. Uniqueness is not only in the language, it also in visual, memory, nostalgia, elements, and representations. I have to say clearly here that I don’t see uniqueness in the same meaning as special. I see uniqueness to show typical or singularity, or perhaps a kind of information. It give a sense of connection to ‘something’. It could be one of the ‘vehicle’ to communicate to others. People relates to it and find them connected in it, that ‘something’ bring people together. It doesn’t mean that they special, it is just the sense of belonging.

“Malaysian student always get together, they like to get united”.

Is it mean Malaysian people are unique and different? I meet Mary from Adelaide in School of Applied Comm. GRC, and had a casual chat with her along with few of my friend. She mentioned about a research student of her in Flinders University and the student is someone I know. I asked her to send the student of her my regards. Then Mary say, this is very common, always she said that Malaysian student always get together and get united. She added that is it Malaysian attitude. I guess having Malaysian around her at the chat might convinced her thought and idea about Malaysian. Somehow in relation to this conversation we had, Marry have created an image of Malaysia through her small finding. Is it true that Malaysian like to get united and be together? Can this add in the uniqueness? How the idea of ‘united’ come? Is it stereotyping or just a claim? What inform Mary? The student behavior, her connections with her student, or others?

Like any other international student, or anyone whose being far from their home/country, when ever we get to know someone from our ‘home’, the memories and the visual that relates to ‘home’ appear. It somehow reduce the ‘homesickness’ or get in the comfort zon. We start a conversation with/through ‘home’ and even start automatically, speaking the ‘language’ we speak at ‘home’. We even sometime use some vernacular because it easier and understandable, or to get more information about the person (it’s a way to detect in which city the person comes from, as each city have different vernacular). Another reason could be language, culture and custom. Perhaps it’s easier to talk to Malaysian as being Malaysia, then to communicate to others.

Malaysian-united is the most interesting words I think. What create this image? Is it the ‘Malaysian Truly Asia’ adds that goes around the world promoting Malaysia give the ideas of united? Does the idea of united adding values to the notion of uniqueness? Or is it the Malaysian student behavior that create this image, or both? One might inform another or one might stabilize the other information. In a way, the image of Malaysia is created, through the representation of its nation, the visual representations, and the rhetoric of language. ‘Object’ or ‘something’ connected and informed people about something. It says things or talk to (as what Neal would say). But it also have more than that, these ‘something’ is also capable to give impact to others by changing their perceptions, depending how deep the information they have about it.

Coming back to the image that been created just by few information, or stereotyping the image, it is not really about ‘something’, it’s a reason to start a ‘something’, in this context a conversation. One want to get connected to others, therefore having a small information about the others, that could be ‘something’, would be a reason to be accepted by others, or would give meaning that one have a knowledge about others.

I’m not sure if I’m on the track or off track but I will let it float in you mind for a while..I think I’ll stop here. Back to you…and here’s are what I think we should be focusing at in our discussion from my side.

The questions you wrote in you blog is a good start..

Am I Investigating about :

The roles of communication designer in shaping Malaysian NCID? (action/behavior/practice/experience)


The roles of communication design materials in shaping Malaysian NCID? (impact of design/product/object/element)

The object/impact or the practice? I think it’s the practice that I’m after for now.

Another important questions that would be interesting to discuss is:

What is the different between communication design and graphic design?

Now, seriously back to you Neal…