Suzette Haden Elgin here....
I've been tentatively participating in this forum now for two weeks, and have had a chance to learn a bit about your language environment. I'd like now to post a brief message that will perhaps save all of us wasted time and energy.
First, let me introduce myself so that you will have at least a roughly accurate image of the person who is moderating. I am a woman, 63 years old, mother of five and grandmother of ten; three of my sons have been extremely active in the physical martial arts from early childhood into adulthood, which means that although I have never participated in those arts personally, I am not unfamiliar with them. I have a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California San Diego and taught linguistics at San Diego State University for a decade; my dissertation was on Navajo syntax; I am an applied psycholinguist. Since retiring from the university in 1980 I have earned my living as a writer and as head of a business which provides a complete line of verbal self-defense products and services. I am the author of the _Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense_ series. If you want additional details, you'll find an adequate biography and bibliography at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin;
you'll find more on the verbal self-defense books at http://www.worldvsdleague.com.
You will find most of my books readily available in public libraries; I'm not here to sell you anything. I have never participated in an Internet forum before and am far from up to speed on the logistics of doing so; your patience with my awkwardness is much appreciated.
Verbal self-defense as a martial art has two goals: (1) To establish and maintain a language environment in which verbal violence almost never happens; and (2) -- on those rare occasions when verbal violence genuinely cannot be avoided -- to deal with it efficiently and effectively without causing loss of face on either side. (If the idea that causing someone to lose face isn't a worthy goal doesn't seem plausible to you, please ask about that and I'll explain; you'll also find that subject discussed in the introductory lesson posted at http://www.worldvsdleague.com.)
I would like this forum to be useful to you, and won't continue it if it turns out not to be. (For example, I'd like to help you with what I'm told is a real need: the construction of explicit and concise definitions of terms -- such as "chi" -- which everyone could use comfortably because they were built by the group and represent a consensus understanding. That would make it possible for you to _talk_ about martial arts concepts without the conversation degenerating into useless flailing about.) I'd like to demonstrate to you how the two verbal self-defense goals stated above can be met. I'd like to show you that although negative messages are a necessary part of human life, they need not have a negative shape when you deliver them. I want to make it clear to you that real power is not the ability to yell (or type) louder and longer than those you communicate with; real power is being someone whose words everyone is eager to listen to and will listen to with respect, even when there is disagreement. Real power is not being able to wipe out the person who attacks you verbally; rather, it is being someone in whose presence no one even considers launching verbal attacks. I want to demonstrate to you that anyone who wishes to do so can learn the theory and practice of verbal self-defense; the fact that you already have mastery of at least one human language means that you do not begin from scratch. Verbal self-defense training puts you in touch with knowledge that you already have but to which you have no convenient access; this means that you can learn far more quickly than you would learn in an analogous physical martial art, where you don't have that initial advantage.
I will welcome your questions and your topics on this forum. Because my schedule is so full, I can only participate once -- rarely twice -- a week, usually on Saturdays; I will respond to all your questions and comments and criticisms as quickly as I can. I'm not interested in dueling dominance displays and will not encourage them here; genuine debate and discussion, however, is very welcome. I look forward to it.