Judith Butler - Excitable Speech

Butler, Judith. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge, 1997.
"Could language injure us if we were not, in some sense, linguistic beings, beings who require language in / order to be? Is our vulnerability to language a consequence of our being constituted within its terms? If we are formed in language, then that formative power precedes and conditions any decision we might make about it, insulting us from the start, as it were, by its prior power."
(pages 1-2)

"To claim that language injures or, to cite the phrase used by Richard Delgado and Mari Matsuda, that "words wound" is to combine linguistic and physical vocabularies. The use of a term such as "wound" suggests that language can act in ways that parallel the infliction of physical pain and injury."
(page 4)

"Indeed, it appears that there is no language specific to the problem of linguistic injury, which is, as it were, forced to draw its vocabulary from physical injury... that physical meta / phors seize upon nearly every occasion to describe linguistic injury suggests that this somatic dimension may be important to the understanding of linguistic pain. Certain words or certain forms of address not only operate as threats to one's physical well-being, but there is a strong sense in which the body is alternately sustained and threatened through modes of address."
(pages 4-5)

"Language sustains the body not by bringing it into being or feeding it in a literal way; rather, it is by being interpellated within the terms of language that a certain social existence of the body first becomes possible."
(page 5)

"If language can sustain the body, it can also threaten its existence."
(page 5)

"Toni Morrison refers specifically to "the violence of representation" in the 1993 Nobel Lecture in Literature. "Oppressive language," she writes, "does more than represent violence; it is violence." Morrison offers a parable in which language itself is figured as a "living thing", where this figure is not false or unreal, but indicates something true about language."
(page 6)

"We do things with language, produce effects with language, and we do things to language, but language is also the thing that we do. Language is a name for our doing: both "what" we do (the name for the action that we characteristically perform) and that which we effect, the act and its consequences."
(page 8)

"Oppressive language is not a substitute for the experience of violence. It enacts its own kind of violence."
(page 9)