Amen. < Old English, from ecclesiastical Latin, from Greek amēn, from Hebrew ‘āmēn ‘truth, certainty’, used adverbially as expression of agreement, and adopted in the Septuagint as a solemn expression of belief or affirmation.
[The version I learned in Hebrew School:] The Talmud teaches homiletically that the word amen is an acronym for אל מלך נאמן (ʾEl melekh neʾeman, “God, trustworthy King”), the phrase recited silently by an individual before reciting the Shma. (Wikipedia)
Being inoffensive, and being offended, are now the twin addictions of the culture.
— Martin Amis
The quest for political correctness never ends. The capricious and malicious use of language to divide American society rolls on, an unstoppable tsunami of political bullshit. Now government is trying to tell us how to use our native language, rolling out Newspeak 2021.
A dysfunctional family
A recent Fox poll showed that 71% of us think of America as a dysfunctional family. Well, of course.
A family where name-calling, lying, race/gender hypersensitivity, and conflicting versions of history are tolerated and encouraged, ensuring that the level of animosity remains high; a family that communicates in doublespeak (jargon, euphemism, gobbledygook and inflated language), a family where verbal manipulation and language abuse are routinely practiced, and there is no adult to teach them how to address conflicts calmly, rationally, and respectfully.
The linguist and the rest of the world
Back in my professor days, I served as President of the Michigan Linguistic Society. My inaugural address, long forgotten except by me, was entitled “The linguist and the rest of the world.”
I called for the tools and thought processes of linguistics to be actively and publicly applied for the good of society – specifically, to public discourse and political speech. Linguists’ clear thinking about language (regardless of how ethereal the theorizing has become), even at the most basic level, can and should be applied to real-world problems and language issues.
This was the linguist’s obligation to society, I said. Or else linguistics retreats into irrelevance. Applied linguistics was already thriving, and since then, I’ve seen linguistics applied a hundred different ways, including at least a dozen kinds of forensic linguistics.
Silence is deafening
In one area – the political use and abuse of language; the enforcement of political correctness — linguists are embarrassingly silent, and their silence is not helping matters. Scientists routinely comment on public issues which involve their expertise, whether it’s climate change, evolution, cosmology, genetics, epidemiology, archaeology…why not linguists?
My usual answer is that they’re too comfortably tenured (or trying to get tenure) at the very institutions that nurture and promote this culture of white oppression and guilt; lowering of all measures of competence and replacing them with racial and gender categories; delivering safe spaces for students to recover from the trauma caused by trigger-words; and pursuing endless preferences, because after 40+ years, diversity is not and will never be achieved.
It’s all about language, guys. But why rock the boat?
This linguist is not silent. But I’m a nobody. I have written again and again, here and on Facebook, about the silence of the linguistics profession – by which I mean high-profile linguists like Lakoff, McWhorter, Pinker (he of the cute curls and cowboy boots) and The Great One, Chomsky Himself. He has plenty of time to spout off about how evil America is and speculate about imaginary deep structures and universal grammars that cannot be found in physical reality.
Can’t spare a minute?
Can’t any of them spare a minute to go on TV and denounce this nonsense, explain why the overheated, over-simplistic, dishonest rhetoric (on which politicians thrive) is harmful, suggest ways to interact with reason and respect – because that’s what this country needs.
It does not need politicians wasting our tax dollars deciding how people should speak and write. This latest example crosses over into parody.
Merchants of p.c. are exquisitely sensitive to 30 or more genders but they have to erase the ones we have? This makes no sense, unless as language control leading to thought and behavior control.
Then it makes sense. Otherwise it is, in the words of one writer, “virtue gone insane.” Who cares, except virtue-flaunting liberals with secure jobs and too much time on their hands?
The false etymology of Amen is beyond parody.
Political correctness: Reductio ad insanitatem
You see where this leads: the elimination of man wherever we find it. This takes me back to the good old days when feminists were objecting to the first syllable of hurricane and the second syllable of woman.
Next: we can’t say “demand.” I deperson that you attend.
No more mandates. From now on, persondates. This is a huge project that will fill the language police with a rich, almost sexual glee. I’m waiting for someone to make a YouTube video with every instance of man replaced. What personer (instead of manner) of speech would result? And who’s going to personage the project?
Man, oh man, I can hardly wait.
Oh, sorry, make that “Person, oh person.”