As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. Self-appointed experts decide that yet another word or symbol – in this case, a picture – is a “trigger.” The cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.
se•mi•ot•ics, noun, the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
Ordinarily I would not be much interested in the race for San Jose (CA) City Council. But Chris Escher of OpportunityNow, a San Jose-based website for entrepreneurs, sent me some campaign flyers and public reactions to them and asked for my reaction
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.
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.”
“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.
“It’s hard to see what the problem is. Language speakers and writers have always been inventive, and texting is just one further example of human creativity. As David Crystal has expressed it: ‘it..is the latest manifestation of the human ability to be linguistically creative… In texting, we are seeing, in a small way, language in evolution…”
― Jean Aitchison, Language Change: Progress or Decay?
I was writing to a friend that you could see language change in progress with the appearance (maybe 15-20 years ago) of hone in on, replacing home in on in speech and even in print..
Politically incorrect speech is neither red nor blue. It is red, while and blue. It is American. Repression of speech leads to repression of thought.
This is a message that the p.c. crowd — in the media, in the universities – needs to hear again and again, because they don’t get it, especially when a Presidential candidate (Warren) announces “her” pronouns on the debate stage, and a teacher is fired for not using the student’s preferred pronouns. It is not enough, the argument goes, to have pronouns of two genders, when there are so many other genders. We need more pronouns!
“…style is intrinsic and private, like…voice or gesture, partly a matter of inheritance, partly of cultivation. It is more than a pattern of expression. It is the pattern of the soul.”
Think of language as haberdashery: you have a closet full of clothes for every occasion. Your clothing choice expresses yourself in a particular context, for a particular audience. In the same way, barely aware of it (or not aware at all), you change your speech to what you think (though there are no conscious thinking processes) will be effective for a particular situation and audience.
A forensic linguist who practices stylistic analysis must be exquisitely sensitive to nuances of text. Where a synonym exists, the very choice of each word represents a decision on the part of the author. Superimposed upon that is the way the word is spelled, abbreviated or capitalized. Truly, a text is a tangle of choices.
The following are intended to test your potential as a forensic linguist. There are two exercises from Forensic Linguistics: An Introduction to Language, Crime and the Law, by John Olsson (New York: Continuum, 2004).
Charles Dickens is famous for giving his characters whimsical names that often reflect their personalities. “Scrooge” is probably the best-known, unmistakably conveying a grasping miserliness in almost tangible terms.
If Dickens had written about a vulgar, aggressive billionaire intent on seeking power, crushing his enemies, and emblazoning his name around the world, he could hardly have chosen a better name than “Trump.”
But we’re not talking about a literary character. Trump is a real person who makes sure his name is repeated 24/7 in every possible mass-media outlet.