Musk affirms painful truth about President Puppet

Whose words, ideas, and, most importantly, policy decisions are we hearing when the President speaks? They almost certainly aren’t his.

 What orators lack in depth, they make up to you in length

Montesquieu, 1767

Here comes the orator, with his flood of words and his drop of reason.

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1735

Now that Elon Musk has dared to say what everyone, including  Dr. Jill (who really wanted to be First Lady and talks about when “we” won)  already knows…and to suggest that the President is bereft of ideas or original thought…the “empty suit” accusation now has a much louder amplifier, and I thank Elon for having the courage to utter the unutterable.  Read more at https://www.language-expert.net/now-president-zero-the-final-devolution-of-presidential-rhetoric/

The (barely-) hidden agenda of racial equity glossaries

A dictionary reports equivalencies. A "racial equity glossary" dictates them.

A dictionary reports equivalencies. A “racial equity glossary” dictates them.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

From Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” (1871)

Recently,  OpporrtunityNow, a San Jose-based website/resource for entrepreneurs, invited me to comment on the City of San Jose’s Racial Equity Glossary.

Here’s what I sent them:

Language control through perceived offense: how far can p.c. go?

As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. Self-appointed experts decide that yet another word - in this case, a word in a different language, may cause offense, and the cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.

As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. Self-appointed experts decide that yet another word – in this case, a word in a different language! – is a “trigger.” The cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

— George Orwell

In these times of language abuse and language control – when a Supreme Court nominee cannot define “woman” (because she is so politically compromised) – I must once again note that manufactured offense knows no limits.  There is no end to it, even though it crosses the bounds of commonsense and reason.

What’s a “woman”? Supreme Court nominee creates watershed moment in left language lunacy

An accurate and timely message: Many of the government abuses that George Orwell so accurately described turn out to have been accurate predictions as well.

An accurate and timely message: Many of the political language abuses that George Orwell so accurately described turn out to have been accurate predictions as well.

Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

George Orwell

The real pronoun problem: political “we”

Political speech is full of lies, euphemisms, deceptions, and nonsense, with words large and small. One of the most deceptive small words is political “we.”

 

Pronouns, considering that they comprise only a short list of words, are one of the most fascinating aspects of English grammar.  All of them have multiple meanings, and there’s a lot of room for fuzzy interpretation and language deception.

Let’s focus on “we.”

It can mean ‘you (singular or plural) and I,’ but nobody else.  Or ‘you and I and (un)named) others.’  Or ’I and one or more others, but not you.’

How the virus of political correctness spreads: none dare call it “looting”

As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. A self-appointed expert decides that yet another word - in this case "looting" - may cause offense, and the cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.

As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. A self-appointed expert decides that yet another word – in this case “looting” – may cause offense, and the cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.

 

When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

From etiquette to coercion: language police threaten harsh punishments

 

An accurate and timely message: Many of the government abuses that George Orwell so accurately described turn out to have been accurate predictions as well.

An accurate and timely message: Many of the government abuses that George Orwell so accurately described turn out to have been accurate predictions as well.

 

Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

George Orwell

“The Biden Administration…”– evading responsibility through impersonal language.

"Pyramid of obedience": a better metaphor than "chain of command"

Bad decisions flow downward and outward in the organizational pyramid, spreading bad ideas through obedience and the suppression of cognitive dissonance.

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

― George Orwell

Governments and organizations of every kind evade personal responsibility by making the organization the subject of an active sentence, as if it moved of its own will.  Granted, it’s sometimes a useful shorthand: Procter and Gamble has introduced…, in which case the company as a whole pulled it off, presumably in adherence to an agreed-upon business strategy; we don’t really have to know just whose idea the product was.

On the futility of International Pronoun Day

The goals of International Pronoun Day and the means by which they are to be achieved are vague, but it sure is fun to invent new pronouns!
Unfortunately, this is not feasible, given the role pronouns play in sentences.

Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities.

From the home page of International Pronoun Day

Not “chain of command” – but “pyramid of obedience”

"Pyramid of obedience": a better metaphor than "chain of command"

Bad decisions flow downward and outward in the organizational pyramid, spreading bad ideas through obedience and the suppression of cognitive dissonance.

 

“A wise man changes his mind, but a fool never.”

Arabic proverb

“Unadvised hasty judgment is a token apparent of a very slender wit.”

Anne Askew, 1520-46

America’s chaotic and humiliating exit from Afghanistan did not just happen.  Human decisions instigated and implemented it.  But the key question, if we are ever to hold anyone responsible for this disaster, if anyone is to be tried and convicted of crimes against humanity (in America? forget it: Dubya, Rumsfeld and Cheney should be in jail for life), we have to find out who.

“War” or “defense”? Propaganda and the value of repetition

“Defense Department” or “War Department”? Repetition breeds acceptance. But what part of America are these soldiers “defending”?

 

“The truth is what most people believe.  And they believe that which is repeated most often.”

Paul Josef Goebbels

The quote is from the man who served as Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and who (BTW, he was a linguist like me, with a doctorate in philology) would today feel quite at home in a PR or ad firm, or at the CIA or a related secret agency, or at one of the big tech companies.

Government creates a new “domestic terrorist threat.”  And where are the linguists?

Some of the many aspects of linguistics

Somewhere in this word cloud is “comment on language abuses in public discourse” and “resist political attempts at language and thought control.”
Nothing happens without language, and in the current social turmoil, one side is blatantly attempting control through language.
Linguists remain silent..

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

  • – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

“The goals migrated:” malicious obfuscation in political speech  

It's all too rare that political speech comes off as anything but "blah." It doesn't have to be that way.

Political speech relies on verbal manipulation, one prominent example: impersonal expressions which avoid assigning (or taking) responsibility.

“Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, a retired rear admiral, recently said that during the long U.S. undertaking in Afghanistan ‘the goals did migrate over time.’  Did the goals themselves have agency – minds of their own?”

George Will

When I listen to or read the speech of the people who represent the government and the military-industrial complex, I hear malicious obfuscation.   By that I mean that they speak, as bureaucrats and politicians always have, in terms that, because people on the receiving end rarely subject them to critical scrutiny, are accepted at face value, though a moment’s consideration reveals how devious and deceptive they are.

Calling for an end to pronomania

A profusion of pronouns

A profusion of pronouns

 Pronomania [pro-no-MAY-nee-ah], n. an obsession with multiplying third-person personal pronouns to indicate a large number of genders, subjectively defined, resulting in the proliferation of personal pronouns, the announcement of “my” pronouns, and the user’s enhanced self-image and feeling of virtuous sensitivity to gender.

Some people think they know about pronouns.  They know nothing.  They think they can multiply English personal pronouns at will.  They announce their “own” pronouns and feel virtuous.  They don’t know that pronouns are one of a few classes of words that are so fundamental that the inventory is limited and rarely, if ever changed.

“Critical Race Theory,” Part II: Where are the linguists?

Some of the many aspects of linguistics

Linguistics consists of many sub-disciplines, all devoted to the study of language.

“Linguistics is virtually invisible to most people…”

— Roger Shuy, Language Crimes, 1996

“Critical Race Theory” is not going away.  Although the slogan is heard almost everywhere in academia and education, almost no one inquires into what it actually means in practice.

It means a lot of different things, which is a good thing for its adherents and practitioners because, they can do anything they want in the name of this impressive- sounding undertaking.

“Critical Race Theory”: A triumph of marketing and branding

It is politically incorrect to question the real meaning of "Critical Race Theory." And that's the way its proponents like ie.

It takes courage and clear thinking to question the all-pervasive indoctrination of Critical Race Theory. But what does the phrase actually mean?

As there is now an inexorable push to make Critical Race Theory a required part of America’s educational system, pushback is  required.  Kudos to Andrew Gutman,  the Brearly (NY) School father who stood up, in no uncertain terms, to the relentless indoctrination to which his kid had been subjected (for $50,000+/year).

Twice poisoned

As Candace Owens notes, CRT is a double poison, taking time from teaching academic skills and at the same time producing a generation of non-thinking, malleable sheep.

On “semantic games” and “infrastructure”

What is a language?

A language is a vast, amorphous consensus among its users as to how words are equivalent to each other and associated with our subjective and objective worlds.

 When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

There is nothing “mere” about semantics!

Now, President Zero: The final devolution of Presidential rhetoric

It's all too rare that political speech comes off as anything but "blah." It doesn't have to be that way.

This year, Presidential rhetoric switched 180 degrees, going from non-stop unfiltered narcissistic blather to…well, zero – and so quickly that it’s giving us language-watchers a case of intellectual whiplash.

 

When orators and [audiences] have the same prejudices, those prejudices run a great risk of being made to stand for incontestable truths.

Joseph Roux

All that is necessary to raise imbecility into what the mob regards as  profundity is to lift it off the floor and put it on a platform.

George Jean Nathan

Cancel culture comes for Dr. Seuss. What next?

This is what the politically correct language police want: an eye into your head.

A free society does not ban or burn books. It does not attempt to control the language and thought of its citizens.

 

As we see censorship, it is a stupid giant traffic policeman answering ‘Yes’ to ‘Am I my brother’s copper?’ He guards a one-way street and his semaphore has four signs, all marked ‘STOP.’

Franklin P. Adams, Nods and Becks, 1944

The problem of freedom in America is that of maintaining a competition of ideas, and you do not achieve  that by silencing one brand of idea.

Max Lerner, Actions and Passion, 1949

Latest language crime: “equity”

 

A new brick has been added to the wall of politically correct speech: "equity" -- a euphemism for more (and unending) racial and gender preferences in pursuit of an undefinable and unattainable goal.

It takes courage and clear thinking to resist the liberal preoccupation with racial/gender preference and language control.

[In George Orwell’s 1984] Syme [a Party official] encourages Winston to recognize that the ‘whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought’.   He explains that ‘in the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.’  Syme refers to the fact that individual thought, rebellious or ‘unorthodox’ thoughts will be impossible and so, too, will the true concept of individual freedom.   Each concept will be expressed in just ‘one’ word.   Any ‘subsidiary’ meanings will be rubbed out and forgotten. (55).The party controls the mind through the control of language (Newspeak), the control of history (the past) and the control of war/ enemies, [via] the process of DoubleThink.