Tag: pronouns

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.’

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.

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.

P.c. atrocities roll on; linguists still silent

The babble of political correctness

In the interests of political correctness Congress wastes our tax dollars scrubbing gender from its legislation. “Amen” is deemed to contain the offensive “men.” Why don’t other linguists speak out against this insanity?

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)

Gender-neutral “they”: Let it start here

An actual scan of an original copy of "Nash's Synthetic Grammar of the English Language"

A grammar book from the 1870’s shows language changing and sheds light on a contemporary language controversy.

 

 

Many languages. . .have no gendered pronouns.  English needs a gender-neutral singular pronoun, and as Winston Churchill said about democracy as a form of government, “they”  is the worst option, except for all the others.

-Anne Fadiman, Harper’s, August 2020

 

Language changes, perhaps in response to social pressure or a communicative need – or for no functional reason at all, as with hone in on replacing home in on, mainly, I guess, because the two sound alike, hone connotes focus and sharpness, and people forget what the home in home in on  means.

Language change — up close

What is a language?

Language variation is change in progress.

 

“Language change is not a disease, any more than adolescence, or autumn are illnesses.”
― Jean Aitchison, Language Change: Progress or Decay?
“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?

The problem

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..

Pronouns and gender politics

The babble of political correctness

Gender politics pervades language, and it’s getting even harder to know what’s “correct.”

Tens of thousands of years have elapsed since we shed our tails, but we are still communicating with a medium developed to meet the needs of arboreal man. . . We may smile at the linguistic illusions of primitive man, but may we forget that the verbal machinery on which we so readily rely, and which our metaphysicians still profess to probe the Nature of Existence, was set up by him, and may be responsible for other illusions hardly less gross and not more easily eradicable?

Stop the pronoun craziness

The babble of political correctness

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!