Tag: language

My Little Town 20121121: More Old Words

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Several folks who follow this regular series, my Pique the Geek one, and my Popular Culture one know that I often use obsolete or archaic spellings for certain, common words.  This is intentional.

Perhaps it is no longer standard English to use these old words, but neither is it incorrect to do so.  I do so partly out of respect whence came I (“whence” is “from where” in a single word, so if you say “from whence” it is sort of like saying “from from where”, sort like folks calling MSDSs “Material Data Safety Sheet Sheets” when they say “MSDS sheets”), but I am not being completely honest.

Another reason that I use them is to try to grab the attention of my readers.  I find it interesting to read pieces from contributors who are sort of off the beaten track.  I do not know if it works well for me or not.  I do believe that my readers realize that I do this not out of ignorance for standard English, but sort of in protest of the conformity to it.

Am I an nonconformist?  As Gibbs would say, “Ya think!?”

Following is a list of words that I often use that are not standard, but not incorrect, and then some recollections that I have for some of the old talk that NEVER was really correct.  This is quite subjective, but here we go.

As Faust said: “When concepts fail, words arise.” by Don Mikulecky

The remainder of the title would not fit: “The destruction of language in politics”.  The series this is a part of has the labels:Anti-capitalist meet-up and anti-capitalism.  No better a way to introduce my topic.  Those are “buzz words” and have been around for a very long time.  What do they mean?  I would guess that the vast majority of the people who use these words along with “communism”, “socialism”, “democracy” , “freedom”, liberty”and many others have no real idea what they are talking about.  Political exchanges are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” just like in our Western movies.  But many of us are more sophisticated or at least we think we are.  Read the diaries here and you will be able to see what I am getting at.  Language is a very interesting thing.  We have dictionaries and now the Google and Wikipedia sources for word meanings.  The technology is racing ahead faster than we can comprehend.  Umberto Eco calls it the modern magic.  We use it like magic not really knowing how it works or where it originates.  This diary is meant to blow your mind.  It comes from the strange creature I am, a hybrid between scientist (but very unconventional), political activist (but very radical and unconventional) and citizen of the world rather than of a Nation.  Oh yes I am an American citizen because that’s the way things have to be at this point in time.  It will change, but I will be dead.  When I die I cease to exist. I am 76 now.  If I haven’t turned you off yet read on below.  I hope to shock you.

Language Wounds in Unpredictable Ways

Last week, a friend invited me out to dinner.  Also present was one of her friends, who happened to be hearing-impaired.  Throughout the whole of the evening, I found it very interesting to observe two forms of communication going on simultaneously—one that I heard and another that I saw visually by way of American Sign Language.  As is true with spoken language, there are instances in sign languages when illustrating a particular idea proves difficult or beyond the speaker’s level of expertise.  It is at this point that a creative communicator will often formulate his or her own signs to be understood.

Troubling the Language

Editor’s Note:

I wrote this originally for a Quaker audience, but would like to share this with you as well.  I’ve added a few notes in the text to aid the comprehension of those who are not Friends.  I’ve also expanded the message to include those who are not people of faith.


The Author.

Words Matter – Mainstream Corporate

Mainstream Corporate

The ideology and ideological reality that exists in today’s society should be called Mainstream Corporate. It is mainstream and it is corporate. Tying these 2 constructs together allows us to reframe the idea of the dominant ideological structure within our political and social understanding from Left vs Right to Property vs People.

Right now, many Americans are suffering from ideological propaganda, left, right and center. That ideological propaganda is Mainstream Corporate.

The Left, present company excluded, I’m sure, is told that the Right Wing Fascists want to take away your freedom. The Right is told that the “Left Wing Socialists want to take away your freedom”.  

Writing, the Skill that makes us Human 20090911

Many lifeforms communicate.  Whether it is from pheromones, like the insects (and to a smaller extent, us) to verbal language, there is some sort of communication.

Other than the opposed thumb, the thing that makes us unique is that we not only communicate, we write it down.  That is a seminal difference.  Here is why.

I Will Neither Tweet Nor Twitter!

There is a new (well, not really that new) tool for social networking that the Dog is sure that everyone here has heard about, Twitter. This service is based on the idea that you would want or need to communicate with your community in bursts of text that are restricted to 140 characters long. This is not a system that the Dog will ever, under any foreseeable circumstances use.

The “euphemizing” of America

Why do we so easily accept words and phrases that inaccurately, but perhaps more pleasantly, describe less-than-pleasant things or concepts or actions? While some euphemisms are relatively innocuous (water closet instead of toilet; passed away instead of died), many are far more insidious. Why has it been so easy for organizations such as the Pentagon and corporations to make up jargon to explain, or to explain away, their unethical, dishonest, greedy actions? I am sick to death of it, and the connection between Republican talking points and corporate talking points is like white on rice. Must be because the connection between Republican power and corporate power is equally inseparable.

When did this crap start? When did we begin to allow such dishonesty in our public discourse, and in our corporate-speak? Immanuel Kant said, “Honesty is better than any policy,” but we surely don’t seem to believe that, in either the political arena or the military-industrial complex.

Verbal Ju-Jitsu: Fight Elitists with… Ignorance

Getting Started

Barack Obama said something today that I think is beautiful from a framing perspective:

I mean it’s like these guys take pride in ignorance! It’s like they like being ignorant.

(hat tip to ruff4life at the Great Orange Satan)

I believe this is the counter frame to the Elitist Democrat.

Nobody wants to be ignorant, and depending on leaders who are proud of their ignorance and demand ignorance from their followers cannot be good for the running of a country.

Ignorance is simply not good public policy.

“The Investigation”

I was reading Cassiodorus’s Through the Looking Glass on Abrupt Climate Change, which is quite a good read, and realized that this was the third time this week that I’d seen that same quote he uses from Humpty Dumpty.

The other two citations, which I have no idea where they are, were both in the context of the Obama/Mcbush mashup this past week. The English language has been sorely abused these last eight years, by politicians and the traditional media, and I expect things will only get worse as the campaign season runs on.

Some years ago I used that same quote from Lewis Carroll as an epigraph to a short story. I’d like to share “The Investigation” with you now, so…

Hop in a barrel and follow me over the fa-a-a-a-alls……

You Talkin to Me? You Talkin to Me?

The Garifuna people of Belize and Guatemala have a very special culture and a very special language.  In fact, the men have a language for speaking to men, and the women have a language for speaking to women. Specifically

One interesting feature of Garifuna is a vocabulary split between terms used only by men and terms used only by women. This does not however affect the entire vocabulary but when it does, the terms used by men generally come from Carib and those used by women come from Arawak.

When Garifuna people speak to each other, they are consciously aware of whom they are speaking with and they know what language is appropriate.

Which brings me to the US and the separate languages used in the US in political discourse.  The right and its media refer to “harsh interrogation” techniques. The left should refer to “torture.”  The right and its media refer to “extraordinary renditions”.  The left should refer to “kidnappings” and “illegal extraditions.”   The right wing refers to “illegal immigrants.”  The left should say “undocumented workers.”  You get the idea.  I could go on and on.  Suffice it to say that the traditional media almost always use the right wing language.  The left wing language can be found in some places in Leftblogistan, but even there the right wing language frequently infiltrates the discussion.

So I have made a late 2007 early 2008 resolution.  When discussing the political issues surrounding the abridgment of the US Constitution and US policy, I am no longer going to use any of the right wing vocabulary.  In fact, I am going to ferret out all right wing language and substitute other, clearer, more precise words in my writing and discourse.

I am convinced that when I drop right wing language it will immediately make it clear that I am no longer indulging in the same incorrect assumptions as those who speak the right wing language.  And my new choice of words will, I hope, cut through all of the pernicious verbal forms our traditional media persist in serving up.  This can only lead to increased clarity and precision. And it can only end the prevalence of that fuzzy code the right wing speaks to us to subvert our own expressions.

Want to join me in this?  I hope so.