Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oldspeak, Verbicide and Incorrectionists

“Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide — that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life — are alike forbidden.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
Holmes was speaking of puns, but the point made is greater than that. It goes to the nature of truth.

I learned and do speak english, or as George Orwell had called it in 1984,“oldspeak”. I speak as I knew and know. I shall resist attempts to be prescribed and proscribed. Orwell wrote, that the speakers of oldspeak were accused of thoughtcrimes. With the intensity that some of these incorrectionists hoist their words on us, it is as we were criminals. Some incorrectionists have faulty rules and conceptions of the propriety of grammar and vocabulary, and merely incorrect us as if they were schoolmarms; but others have a political agenda and their political correctness, I shall not put up with. People need correction if their thoughts and words are on wrong or incorrect information, but dictating the words and their meanings for one
s interest, independent or contrary of the truth, is evil. Our unapproved thoughts become thoughtcrimes or, in Newspeak, “crimethink”. I object to this malevolent censorship.
“By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. ” — George Orwell
We oldspeak speakers are endangered. There are several sorts of newspeak about us and their purveyors are aggressive. Certain groups have their agendas: commercial advertisers (e.g. I, if I wish to order a hamburger, shall call it a hamburger and not their silly term; likewise a coffee chain identifies cup sizes as short, tall, grande, vente, this is jumbled non-sense, the oldspeak is small, medium, large, extra large); the government (Patriot Act = curbing of the Bill of Rights); the police (person of interest = suspect); and the military (surge = escalation,
air support = bombing, collateral damage = civilian deaths). They use jargon to distort comprehension. They wish to impose their manufactured system onto you. They use verbal subterfuge and camouflage. They wish to change our behavior, as if we were skinnerian rats.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” — Dr. Joseph Göbbels
There are other transgressors. Recently, a certain Maria Reimondez is trying to use the courts to profit from her transgression. The Whitbread Book of the Year in 2003 went to Mark Haddon. Reimondez was to be the Galician translator. Moisés Barcia, the editor for the publisher, which ended her contract stated, “As we corrected her text, we realised that she was systematically translating neutral words into feminine ones, and masculine words into feminine or neutral forms ”. She went the path of inclusive language, which decries male orientation and replaces it with a feminisation. There is an apt expression for this: Il traduttore è traditore.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis* suggests that our sentient universe is more than described by our mental words and their textures. Your english-language, thought world is not the same as a Navajo’s universe. Different languages present the world differently. If you are bi-lingual you have a greater understanding of the universe, because each language is limited and each language perspective is different. Some things are very self-evident in one language and not in another. From this it follows that: he who tries to manipulate other’s words, manipulates their world. This, if, done for an interest counter to the other is violent.

Somewhere in the Gospels, Our God and Brother said something to the effect,“let your ‘yes’, be yes, and your ‘no’, be no.”† Jesus transmits that we should be honest and accurate in our speech. Politically correct or politically or socially coerced language is a sin against truth. Euphemisms such as “collateral damage” are lies. As Solženitsin said in his Nobel speech, “Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE.” Lies are violent, remember Aleksandr Isajevič spoke on their method and use. To substitute for socio-political reasons, “Our Creator” for “Our Father ” is of the same method and purpose. Jesus, always addressed the God of the Old Testament, by Abba, the familiar for Father. He, Jesus, was the Son, not the offspring. Any change for this Father-Son relationship is heresy, that is why language other than, in the name of the Father and of the Son ... is heresy; and if used in baptismal formulæ are invalid.

“And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. ” — Genesis i. 27.

If the common or unitive gender of our and many other languages is masculine, then the above is sensible, and beautiful. Feminist language of supposed inclusion makes this what?
*Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf. To some this is a form of linguistic determinism and linguistic relativity.
† But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.— Matthew v. 37. Here, Jesus was saying that the use of oaths, in addition to language, was not necessary, but still, the point is there. Later in James, the similar, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath. But let your speech be, yea, yea: no, no: that you fall not under judgment.”

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