How many times a day do you find yourself censoring what you want to say, due to fear of political condemnation? Do you have anything meaningful left worth saying? If not, you’ve surrendered to the language perverters.
That the world is full of illiterates and semi-literates is not news. Nor is it news that people in certain fields, advertising and political propaganda most notoriously, routinely abuse the language. However, I now notice that people who are supposedly wordsmiths or experts, e.g., journalists (and their editors), professors, teachers, etc., are also routinely guilty of the same crimes.
For instance, for over 20 years, when a businessman dies, the media have referred to his employees as his “co-workers.” (That used to be “colleagues,” but apparently the term wasn’t dumbed down enough to satisfy the perverters, who were afraid that readers and listeners wouldn’t grasp that colleagues were equals, so they created an unnecessary word with the prefix “co-.”)
A businessman has no “co-workers.” He may have partners, creditors, investors and/or stockholders, and employees or subordinates. No democracy there.
Why on Earth would alleged journalists level the differences between bosses and workers? They don’t even believe in democracy! (Who does?)
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, I would frequently read of “solipsists,” from writers who did not mean that. From the context, it was clear that they meant “narcissists” or “selfish people,” but thought that “solipsists” sounded cooler. Indeed, it did, but only if you didn’t know what the word “solipsism” means.
Such writers were always talking about social phenomena, whereas solipsism is a purely metaphysical matter. It can’t possibly become a social problem. A solipsist does not believe in the existence of other people. To be sure, he encounters other people, but he would have to believe that they are part of his imagination. He would nonetheless be forced to deal with them, just “as if” they were real.
A more recent example is “figurehead,” which used to mean a man who was officially in charge of something, but just for show. The real boss was always someone else behind the scenes.
Now, I see “figurehead” used to mean the opposite of its true meaning.
Granted, for people of limited knowledge of English, those below a certain age, or those who just went along with the perversion, in order to get along, “figurehead” now means the real boss.
According to Inc. blog’s Julian Hayes II, Daniel Gartenberg is a “sleep scientist and TED resident.”
(Is a “TED resident” someone who only exists in the virtual world of the Internet?)
“When asked about why people feel fine with six hours of sleep, Gartenberg likened sleep deprivation to the fish and the fishbowl phenomenon:
‘The fish doesn't know that he's in the fishbowl, nonetheless that he's in water. Also, when you're sleep deprived, research has shown that you're really bad at being able to tell that you're sleep deprived.’”
There used to be scolds who made a profession, and quite a lucrative one, out of correcting bad English language usage. The most famous such English language scolds were for a time, NBC News journalist Edwin Newman (1919-2010) and presidential speechwriter (for President Nixon), New York Times columnist and bestselling novelist, William Safire (1929-2009).
I suppose when Newman and Safire were alive, people just figured that they’d be replaced when they died, just as folks figured that someone would replace Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960), when he bought the farm.
Well, I know that Oscar II proved irreplaceable and, as far as I know, the same proved true of Newman and Safire.
Today, rather than reminding people of the need to respect rules of English usage, grammar, and style, “experts” are more likely to tell us that we can eschew them. (Yeah, that’s a word I never use, so we can say, “violate with impunity.” You know, like the law, unless that is, you’re a Republican or a patriot, in which case you have to be executed.)
Many alleged English teachers now tell us that there’s nothing wrong with run-on sentences or, as they call them, “comma splices.”
If that’s so, why ever bring a sentence to an end?
When I was about eight years old, my Mom bought me Profiles in Courage from the school book store, Scholastic Book Services.
The book was by the late President (then U.S. Senator) John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) who, as everyone knew, was a genius.
Lo these many years later, the only thing I recall from the book was that at one point, the author wrote a single sentence that ran on for over a page.
I thought to myself, “That’s what a genius does.”
The JFK genius cult ran so deep that in 1977 or ’78, my first philosophy professor, the late Richard Magagna bragged to the class that he scanned a written page in the same manner as President Kennedy. (I think he said he split the page into two sides, left and right, and scanned the left side, and then the right.)
Only many years later would I learn that the book had been written in its entirety by a Kennedy family retainer, the late Ted Sorenson, on the orders of patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., in order to win Jack a Pulitzer Prize, create an image in the public mind of the young Kennedy as a philosopher-statesman, and help get him elected president. And it did all that.
Or rather, Joe Sr. did all that. The book wasn’t even in the running for the Pulitzer, but Joseph Kennedy Sr. fixed that. (And the 1960 election, too.)
You needn’t tell me that I’m no Ed Newman or Bill Safire. I am painfully aware of that. That’s why I refer to myself as an English-language learner.
Yes, I know. That’s not the way it’s used.
English-language learners, or ELLs, are students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English, who often come from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds, and who typically require specialized or modified instruction in both the English language and in their academic courses. [“English-Language Learner,” the Glossary of Education Reform, LAST UPDATED: 08.29.13.]
The Web site tells us, “Created by the Great Schools Partnership, the GLOSSARY OF EDUCATION REFORM is a comprehensive online resource that describes widely used school-improvement terms, concepts, and strategies for journalists, parents, and community members.”
“School-improvement terms, concepts, and strategies for journalists, parents, and community members.”
The folks who speak of “school-improvement” would like to fit your trusty correspondent for a strait-jacket. You, too, since you’ve been caught reading me—exceptions only for my SPLC and Google minders.
Here’s the thing. I’m an English-language learner because I’m trying to master English, as in learning to speak and write at the highest level.
When the school-improvers write or say “English-language learners,” they mean something more like the opposite. They’re referring to kids who either hate English, and have no desire to learn it, or kids whom they are holding captive, and whom they are ransoming, in order to bleed the white net taxpayer dry, though they have no intention of ever freeing them.
The captives will serve until death as a force of criminals and rioters, in order to forever blackmail white net taxpayers, until…
A reader will surely object, “But you can’t fight City Hall. Why not give in on ‘English-language learners’? Is this hill really worth dying on?”
Well, what hill would you have me die on? They’ve taken all the hills!
I’m no longer permitted to say “colored,” “negro,” “black,” “nigger,” “girl,” “coed,” “Miss,” “slut,” “bitch,” “illegal alien,” “thug,” “abortionist,” or even “American.” And yet, certain people are permitted, nay encouraged, to use as many of those terms as they desire. Meanwhile, certain people order us to address themselves or others by certain terms which I can't even remember (beyond "African American," that is).
I seem to recall that there was a term for a system of social relations in which certain people enjoy carte blanche, while others have no freedom, but I’m not allowed to use that, either.
You see, they’ve taken over the language, just as they’ve taken over the institutions.
So, let us die on this or that hill, from time to time.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.