Scientists of all kinds speak out in the media on issues that affect society. What is the linguist’s obligation? Two language-based issues roil our society, year after year: (i) political correctness/language control; and (ii) the politicization, indeed weaponization of language to persuade and mislead large groups of people (includes such topics as fake news disinformation, propaganda, truth/lies, and much more). Why are linguists silent? Because they all live in academic halls of stifling political correctness?
Forensic linguistics is concerned with every aspect of language and the law.
…linguistics is virtually invisible to most people…Just as physicians are trained to see things in an X-ray that the average person with excellent vision cannot see, so linguists are trained to see and hear structures that are invisible to the lay person.
A forensic linguist is sometimes a general practitioner and sometimes a specialist in any of a number of sub-areas within the science. If you are a Shakespeare scholar, questions of authorship might interest you. If your interest is in phonetics, then voice identification might appeal. A conversational analyst might be interested in the detection of emergency hoax calls…
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.
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.’
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deprogramming is a brutal concept. For one side in American politics to urge it on the other is deplorable. An alternative is compromise on the part of both sides, so that Americans learn to live with each other.
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavor to erase them.
To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.
On Jan. 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln spoke before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, about “the perpetuation of our political institutions.” During that address, he said:
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
Lincoln’s message: no other nation is strong enough to destroy America. We would do it to ourselves. And it’s happening.
“Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords”
-Robert Louis Stevenson
(NOTE: a catch-word is technically what we today would call a “pull-out quote”; I’m using it in a broader sense here, to refer to slogans, mottoes, taglines, and catch-words.)
I keep quoting Stevenson because his observation is so true and has been for a long time. We love slogans even more than we love narratives and conspiracies…because slogans are the verbal equivalent of Paxil and Wellbutrin. They encapsulate whatever some leader or group of people decides is the best summary of what the product, movement, party, etc., is all about, while they make us feel good about it.
Written language contains many information signals beside letters and numbers. Here are a few.
A period is to let the writer know he has finished his thought and he should stop there if he will only take the hint. Art Linkletter, A Child’s Garden of Misinformation (1965)
To a generation of children who are trained to be sensitive to an ever-increasing body of words deemed offensive because of their perceived meanings, who are “triggered” by these words and need “safe spaces,” it is, for the P.c., just a small jump from reading new meanings into words…to reading new meanings into marks of punctuation.
Politically correctness attacks the teaching of English. Be afraid. Be very afraid..
“The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often.”
“[The English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts… if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
Who dares to be the red person in a sea of blue think-alikes?
“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
“Offending and being offended are now the twin addictions of our society.”