This might upset some people, but one of my professors (in linguistics, in which I am trained in the Functionalist/"anti-Chomskyan" tradition) pointed out a few years ago in a unit on child language development that it is actually, in some sense, a neurological or neurolinguistic milestone when a child begins to lie, as it shows a certain development in their awareness that they are able to manipulate language this way. I agree, though of course not from a moral viewpoint.
I would say to James, with this observation in mind, that it is language
that is manipulated
, rather than language itself a priori
manipulating the truth by virtue of it being used to express some proposition, as though language in and of itself is corrupting of the truth. While you may be afraid to touch this question, James, I think our Lord Jesus Christ provided a very good example of this in action during his famous antitheses presented in the Gospel of St. Matthew: "You have heard it said..., but I say unto you". Christ our Lord was certainly not lying
in either clause, but purposely manipulating language via this carefully constructed framework in order to reveal
the truth, not to conceal or manipulate it.