Tag: English language

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:

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

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

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.

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!

Code-switching and pandering – a new low

Code-switching can be used in the service of pandering, as when Presidential candidates lapse into Spanish to win favor in the cheapest manner.

 Spare me the sight / of this thankless breed, these politicians / who cringe for favors from a screaming mob / and do not care what harm they do their friends / providing they can please a crowd!

Euripides, Hecuba (c. 425 BCE)

This post introduces my Blahblahblah Award, bestowed upon the politician using the most devious and manipulative language since…well, since the previous award.  The grinding Presidential race will continue for many months, so there should be plenty of material.

Who’s got the sexiest accent? Not me.

Dialects unite and divide us

Dialects unite and divide us.

I just read an article on “who’s got the sexiest accent?’, and when I Googled the article, I discovered that “sexiest accent” generates over four million hits.

As Trump said about health care, who knew there were so many surveys?

The ones I skimmed through seemed mostly intended as tourism boosters, at least for the places with accents people like.

I didn’t see a survey conducted by any linguistics scholar I ever heard of. In the latest survey, from Big Seven Travel (Katey Psencik, The Columbus Dispatch), there are 50 accents — just like we have 50 states! Some of the accents are associated with cities, so presumably not every State was represented.