Saturday, December 8, 2007

Would you please speak English, please?

The abuse of the English language spreads like a California wild-fire. While I am exacting and punctilious by nature, I do believe that language is mutable, always changing. But that by no means excuses the sloppiness of diction and thought that infects our speech today. Much of the infection is pure laziness--people chuck in extra cliche-d phrases because, well, it's so easy to say what someone else said before. So, you hear and read things like, "We will provide access to transportation," rather than "We will provide transportation." Then there is the segment of our language that is sullied because it has become propagandized or politicized or both. Somehow political discussions are "debates." They are not. They are questions and answer sessions with little interplay. Abortion. You are either anti-abortion or pro-choice. Well, guess what? I am anti-abortion--of course I am. Abortion is a horrible procedure and probably a painful choice. I mean who ISN'T anti-abortion. However, I believe women and men can opt to choose an abortion if they wish. I can go on and one and probably will. Because the manipulation of language shapes the world we live in. The Manichean world view of the Radical Right eliminates nuance and says, basically, anyone with a skin-tone darker than Paris Hilton is evil, especially if they don't believe in salvation through the one-time Jew, Jesus Christ.

Perhaps in a later post I will come up with a list of warning words. If you hear those words in a conversation or read them, do everything you can to escape. Because they are used only by scoundrels, charlatans and know-nothings. Robust is high on that list.

Finally, I am writing this from a visually cacophonous room in a Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is no courtyard in sight. And no one named Mari. And certainly no yacht.

2 comments:

T said...

And think about African Americans. Aren't they simply American if they're American?
Asian American, Middle Eastern American? Eurasian American?

John Park said...

Carlin ranted about superfluous words in his rant on airline announcements:

The next sentence I hear is full of things that piss me off. "Before leaving the aircraft, please check around your immediate seating area for any personal belongings you might have brought onboard."

Well, let's start with immediate seating area--SEAT! It's a goddamn seat! Check around your seat!

"For any personal belongings." Well, what other kinds of belongings are there, besides personal--public belongings? Do these people honestly think I might be traveling with a fountain I stole from the park.

"You might have brought onboard." Well! I might have brought my arrowhead collection--I didn't, so I'm not going to look for it! I am going to look for things I brought onboard, which seems to enhance my likelihood of finding something, wouldn't you say?