Here’s that George Lakoff piece about how hate speech isn’t free – which seems to presume humans are lab rats.
We are not.
Here’s that George Lakoff piece about how hate speech isn’t free – which seems to presume humans are lab rats.
We are not.
“Hillary” – (verb) to frantically cast blame to cover mistakes or misjudgment.
Example: “He tried to hillary the results to cover his own poor planning”.
In 1984, George Orwell postulated the ultimate achievement of Ingsoc as the replacement of English with “Duckspeak” – a language in which it would be impossible to conceive, much less verbalize, disagreement with Big Brother.
Who better to bring Duckspeak to life in the real world than “progressive” linguist George Lakoff?
What makes for a good swear wiord?
(From a very large series of videos about German and American language and culture).
I love the English language.
I earn a living in the world of business.
I hate what business has done to the language with the heat of a billion suns.
And it’s not getting better. The decline is accelerating. Lucy Kellaway has been documenting the decline for decades – and is finding that the worst offenders are prospering from their crimes against clear, concise language:
Howard Schultz is a champion in the bullshit space. The Starbucks executive chairman has provided me with more material for columns than any other executive alive or dead. Yet he is still at it, and still out-doing himself. Earlier this year, he announced that the new Starbucks Roasteries were “delivering an immersive, ultra-premium, coffee-forward experience”.
In this ultra-premium, jargon-forward twaddle, the only acceptable word is “an”. Mr Schultz has brewed up a blend of old and new jargon, the fashionable and the workaday, adding a special topping of his own. “Delivering” and “experience” are grim but not new. “Ultra-premium” is needless word inflation. “Immersive” is fashionable, though ill-advised if you are talking about scalding liquids. The innovation is “coffee-forward”. Sounds fantastic, but what is it?
And it serves their purpose:
Over the years, Mr Schultz has consistently proved just how bad language serves business people well. So when an analyst asks if you are going to acquire anything, you can either say no, which is a bit too bald and clear, or you can say 34 words instead, as he did a few years ago: “I would say that we have enough to digest in the near-term, and there’s nothing candidly in our sightline that would suggest that we’re involved in engaging anything that we’re going to acquire.”
Bingo. The audience will be so bored, you will never get called to account.
50,000 foot view? It is what it is.
I said it during the 2016 campaign. I’m gonna say it again.
The reason everyone had to start talking about “white privilege” was to pre-empt discussion of “class privilege” – of the sort that is Big Left’s real power base. If the body politics – especially the part that votes Democrat – were too busy barbering about “white privilege”, the notion that a hot tar roofer from Little Rock with an Arklahoma accent has some innate leg up over Oprah Winfrey because white – they wouldn’t have time to fuss about the class divide that separates Kenwood from North Minneapolis, Carlton from North Hennepin Community College,
Every time I’m ready to completely give up on David Brooks – and it happens frequently enough – he writes a column like this, about how class privilege (especially in our “progressive” zip codes) perpetuates itself.
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
Brooks’ point is a good one – language is a primary way to include or exclude people. And it’s not just vocabulary; a southern accent is sure to draw discrimination here in Minnesota, while a mid-Atlantic, Boston or Brooklyn accent will engender zoo-like curiosity.
And Brooks’ point is that these dividers – both social, and their more concrete legal varieties, like zoning codes, transit strategies and the like, cost our economy dearly; Brooks quotes one estimate at 50%, which strikes me as high, but you don’t have to look at Minneapolis long to see that there’s a problem.
But it goes way beyond simple inclusion and economics:
American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”…
To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.
The educated class has built an ever more intricate net to cradle us in and ease everyone else out. It’s not really the prices that ensure 80 percent of your co-shoppers at Whole Foods are, comfortingly, also college grads; it’s the cultural codes.
And the first rule of Urban Progressive Privilege club is, you never talk about Urban Progressive Privilege club. You deflect to White, Male Privilege (where the Urban Progressive white male has already declared nolo contendere), and deflect like mad.
As is maddeningly common with Brooks, you should read the whole thing.
I sort of cringed when I watched the “Science March” – because “Science” is being dragged down the same Orwellian linguistic rathole that has claimed so many other once-useful/meaningful words.
At one point, science meant “You have a theory. You frame a hypothesis. You come up with experiments that can disprove the hypothesis. You publish the theory, the hypothesis, the experiments, and the results, with an aim toward allowing other scientists to check your work and see if your results could be repeated.
Today? It’s just another word for peer pressure (from the left).
But this is demonstrative of the Left’s take on science: Science is actually just the name for anything the Left likes. Worried about the humanity of an unborn child? Concerned that fetuses have their own blood types and their own DNA? Stop it! You’re quoting science, not Science™! Wondering how it is that a genetic male is actually a woman? You’re worrying about science, not Science™!
This is the dirty little secret of the Left’s sudden embrace of Science™ — it’s not science they support, but religion. They support that which they believe but cannot prove and do not care about proving. Bill Nye isn’t interested in a scientific debate about global warming — how much is occurring, the measurement techniques at issue, the sensitivity of the climate to carbon emissions, the range of factors that affect the climate. He wants you to accept his version of the truth — not just that global warming is happening, but that massive government intervention is necessary in order to avert imminent global catastrophe.
Worse? This is just one front in the battle for something more important than science – the battle for the language itself.
And the good guys are losing that one, too.
One of the things that first put this blog on the map, back in 2002-03, was the “DFL Dictionary” – a compendium of DFL language translated into English.
The Dictionary first published in 2003. The second edition came out in 2009.
It’s time for another!
If you see any new terms that deserve inclusion, add the terms and their definitions in teh comment section; likewise, suggest edits to older terms there, as well.
Posterity will thank us all.
I’ll cop to it – I’m a sucker for language geekery. I focused a lot on Linguistics in college, and still enjoy the subject, even though I don’t actually do it for any kind of a living.
Daniel Foster in NRO reviews two new books on the subject – with some fascinating insights tucked in.
While I urge fellow language geeks to read the whole thing, I liked this bit in particular:
Bergen’s treatment of slurs is slight and tentative compared with his coverage of other subject areas, but he’s Kanye West compared with Adams. Consider that Bergen’s first chapter is titled “Holy, F*cking, Sh*t, N*gg*r” sans asterisks. It hits like a freight train, producing first an uncontrollable guffaw and then a pupil-dilating scandal. But the formulation is actually much more innocent, a shorthand for the ingenious theory that all languages are sortable into four categories according to whether their most taboo words are blasphemous, copulative, scatological, or bigoted. Spanish, for instance, is a sex language, while the French, for all their fallenness, consider sacrilegious speech most offensive. German, infamously, is a language obsessed with “scheisse.” And English, Bergen argues, is among the relatively few languages where the biggest taboos are slurs.
It’s interesting, reading “Beowulf” and seeing how very comfortable English speakers in that era were with scatological talk, but how very carefully they avoided blasphemy. Given we’re a nation of immigrant’s, it’d seem we are little hinky about pretty much all cursing, one way or the other.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
I question whether Liberals and Conservatives hear the same things.
When a Liberal says “Joe Doakes is a racist,” I suspect other Liberals hear “Joe Doakes is dangerous.” That triggers a fight-or-flight response. The listening Liberals know they should shun me – at a minimum – and fight me if they can do it from a place of safety. Thus, we get unfriended on Facebook, one-star Amazon reviews, one-star Yelp reviews and secondary boycotts to pressure employers to fire the accused.
When a Liberal says “Joe Doakes is a racist,” I suspect Conservatives hear “Joe Doakes is a poopy-head.” That triggers a scornful response. The listening Conservatives know they should ignore the Liberals – at a minimum – and actively support me, even if it brings Liberal wrath down on them, too. Thus we get Trump’s cabinet nominations.
This may be the new litmus test. When a politician hears someone called “racist,” watch how they react. If they react like Liberals, then they are Liberals at heart, regardless of which party affiliation they wear at the moment.
When everyone is a racist, no one is a racist. The term as no longer has an agreed-upon meaning. Does this mean I hate Black people and want them to die? No, it means the word is worn out from overuse. Find another word.
They will. They will.
Why, no, Ms. Social Justice Warrior, I’m not appropriating Latino culture by eating a burrito. This is a Pølse – a lefse (potetkakke, to be precise) wrapped around meat, vegetables and sauces to taste.
Not a freaking burrito.
Check your privilege.
We have offically hit Peak Social Justice:
In a piece for the Patriot, the school’s official student newspaper, Leah Power explains that although she has “attempted to build up a thick skin towards the insensitive jokes, stereotypes, cultural appropriation and overall ignorance” that she sees around her, she just cannot help but get very upset every time she hears someone who is not from the South use the word “y’all.” Power writes that she remembers traveling outside of the South when she was young and having to deal with “people joking about my accent and the stereotypes of the dumb, inbred, redneck hicks who made up the southern states,” but that “sometime in the last year or so, [‘y’all’ has] gone from a redneck pronoun to a socially acceptable form of addressing a group of people.”
Well, Ms. Power, all I can say is “d’uuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh”.
Yes, it has. And I’ve contributed to it. And I will continue to contribute to it.
English is one of very few languages without a second-person plural. In German, the singular you is “Du”; if you’re referring to more than one person, it’s “ihr”. (In formal situations – another thing English lacks – it’s “Sie” and “Ihnen”).
But for English – since the demise of “Ye”, anyway – we have no word for second-person plural.
And there are times that causes problems.
Enter “y’all” – the southern dialect group’s great contribution to grammar. It is a second person plural. And unlike the Northern dialect group’s “Youse”, it’s not phonetically awkward; it’s easier to go from an “L” to most other sounds than from an “S”.
So yes Ms. Power; by your leave (or even without it), I’m going to use “y’all”. I’m also going to appropriate any parts of southern culture that suit me – Tom Petty, a sarcastic “yee haw” on occasion, Emmylou Harris, rockabilly, cheese grits, whatever.
And not just southern culture, either. I will take whatever parts of other cultures and incorporate them into my life in any way I see fit; I’ll listen to R&B, Jazz and black Gospel music; I’ll incorporate words like “Boondocks” (stolen from the Philippines) and “Cojones” (Mexico) and others into my vernacular; if something in another culture makes my life better and more interesting, I’m going to take it,and I’m going to dare you to do anything but whine about it.
Because that’s how all human cultures throughout history have formed, intermingled and grown. Western European culture is the result of 2,000 years of various levels of mixture of Latin, Gallic, Frankish, Saxon, Anglic, Teutonic, Slavic, Near Eastern, Nordic, Greek, and countless other cultures, customs and languages, none of which existed anymore in the original forms, because they all appropriated each other, and themselves, out of existence. And it’s the same for every other culture on the planet – African, Asian, you name it. The only exceptions are tribes in the impenetrable wilds of New Guinea or the Philippines that have gotten through these last 2,000 years with no other human contact.
So save us the jabbering about appropriation. Every culture appropriates every other culture, always has, and always will. Take what you need and leave the rest.
As a German speaker, I was surprised and delighted to see that the American English word “shitstorm” has been adapted to German. The new German word shitstorm is a vernacular for, well, a shitstorm.
Of course, while the word is an FCC violation in the US, the English word “shit” itself has no meaning in German (the word Scheißgewitter would be both vulgar and a little meaningless in German). So, unlike in English, the term “shitstorm” can be used in polite company…
…because the loaded, offensive term loses its meaning outside its native language.
The moral of the story: words that are adopted into foreign languages don’t necessarily bring with them their native baggage.
Or to put it more concisely? Context matters.
After a decade and a half of illiterately hinting, tittering and referring to conservatives of all stripes as one variety of “Nazi” or another, the left and its PR flaks in the mainstream media are shocked, shocked I tell you, that someone is…pre-literately invoking a Nazi reference:
When a video of two Donald Trump supporters shouting “Lügenpresse” (lying press) started to circulate Sunday, viewers from Germany soon noted its explosive nature. The defamatory word was most frequently used in Nazi Germany. Today, it is a common slogan among those branded as representing the “ugly Germany”: members of xenophobic, right-wing groups.
Its use across the Atlantic Ocean at a Trump rally has worried Germans who know about its origins all too well. Both the Nazi regime and the East German government made use of it, turning it into an anti-democracy slogan.
And if you’re German, commenting about German politics, that’s certainly rife with portent.
And if you think that the bobbleheads who used the term at the rally knew all that history, and knowingly thought that was the subtext, by all means, provide some evidence of it.
Because what the term literaly means is “Lying Press”. Stripped of any historical context, that is all it means.
And while the Washington Post in the article above calls the term “defamatory”, truth negates a charge of defamation. Our press does have bias, does lie about it, and is in the tank for Hillary Clinton.
What sort of Scheißgewitter is it going to take for our lapdog media to confront this?
One of the features that originally put this blog on the map was “The DFL Dictionary” – a list of the Democrat party’s perversions of the English Language.
It occurs to me – the feature hasn’t been updated in close to eight years.
So today I’m going to start working on an update
New Terms: Here are some of the new terms I’d like to try to define:
I’m open for new definitions of these terms (and I have a few myself, but most of you are smarter than me). If you’ve got a definition or two, throw ’em in down in the comment section.
What Have I Missed?: I know I’ve missed some terms. Throw ’em in down in the comment section!
Or most technical “standards”, really:
And don’t get me started on the Chicago Manual of Style…
I’ve been looking for the perfect word to describe the cultural left’s most noxious rhetorical habit. At times, I’d despaired of ever finding it.
But Wendy McElroy pretty well nails it.
The term “kafkatrapping” describes a logical fallacy that is popular within gender feminism, racial politics and other ideologies of victimhood. It occurs when you are accused of a thought crime such as sexism, racism or homophobia. You respond with an honest denial, which is then used as further confirmation of your guilt. You are now trapped in a circular and unfalsifiable argument; no one who is accused can be innocent because the structure of kafkatrapping precludes that possibility.
The term derives from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial in which a nondescript bank clerk named Josef K. is arrested; no charges are ever revealed to the character or to the reader. Josef is prosecuted by a bizarre and tyrannical court of unknown authority and he is doomed by impenetrable red tape. In the end, Josef is abducted by two strange men and inexplicably executed by being stabbed through the heart. The Trial is Kafka’s comment on totalitarian governments, like the Soviet Union, in which justice is twisted into a bitter, horrifying parody of itself and serves only those in charge.
I run into this all the time. I rebuke and mock it without mercy. Now I can do it by name.
The etymology of “Pompatus”. As in “Pompatus of Love”, of Steve Miller fame.
Yes, there is an etymology.
Briefs have been filed in support of a challenge to Paramount Studios’ trademark on the Klingon “language”.
The briefs have been filed in Klingon.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Liberals say Second Amendment advocates are compensating for small genitals [and let’s not forget the more recent, almost-as-dumb “ammosexual” – Ed.]; they call members of the Taxed Enough Already Party by the name for a deviant homosexual sex act; and now gasp that the intramural insult “cuckservative” refers to three-way-inter-racial porn (it doesn’t, it’s a combination of “cuckold” and “conservative” and means nominal conservatives that stick by the Republican Party even though the party elite constantly cheats on them).
Everything Liberals say about their political opponents is grounded in sexual fetishes. And yet, if I were to suggest that gay marriage activists are queer, I’d be excoriated for unacceptable and demeaning incivility.
If Liberals didn’t have double standards, they’d have none at all. I guess that’s what makes them better than me – they have twice as many standards!
Liberal Privilege is never really having to make sense.
This stuff fascinates me; tracing the derivation of the number “two” through ethnohistory, and how it traces the history of Western Civilization:
And in all of those cultures, to the left, Dva and Doi is Fünf.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
As a youth, I looked for Science Fiction books with Hugo Winner on the cover because that was a sign of quality science fiction writing.
For the last 30 years, Hugo winners have been more about political correctness than starships and laser beams, a future of despair, not hope. Look, I read escapist fiction to escape political correctness and despair, I don’t want it in my Science Fiction so I quit buying SF.
Three years ago, author Larry Correia noticed the trend and in a parody of typical politically-correct appeals, claimed that boring message fiction was the leading cause of puppy-related sadness. He said the Hugos put authors’ politics above the quality of the work, that conservatives were shunned. He formed the Sad Puppies club and got a few conservatives nominated for the award. The Liberal response was typical: Sad Puppies are racist, sexist and homophobic and must be shunned. SP did it again last year and the response got worse. This year there were two groups: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, who swept the nominations and then the fur really flew.
The major media reporting on the controversy started from the wrong premise: they examined genitals and scrutinized skin color to see if Sad Puppies nominees filled quotas of women and racial minority authors. That investigation entirely misses the point: regardless of who wrote the stories, were the stories any good?
The metric used to measure the problem, IS the problem.
The 2015 Hugos were announced: no Award won several categories. Politically correct fans would sooner give no award at all than let conservative nominees win, not even the woman, Hispanic or American Indian Sad Puppies nominees. Politics ruled; Liberals burned down their politically correct village in order to save it.
The insanity goes beyond science fiction.
President Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court because she was a “wise Latina.” Is there something about being a woman that makes the Commerce Clause easier to understand? Some special cultural benefit of having Spanish ancestors that gives you clearer insight into the Due Process Clause? Liberals insist Diversity is Essential but never provide an intellectual justification for it.
We can see the results of Affirmative Action in the Hugos and in the White House. When will we, as a society, get the message that rewarding the least qualified and punishing the most qualified on the basis of immaterial factors such as race and sex . . . is a stupid way to run a society?
I’m happy that Joe can explain the flap about the Hugo Awards because I, myself, have never cared for sci-fi.
And when I say “sci-fi”, I mean “sci-fi fans”, of whom I have the grossly-unfair stereotype of being a roomful of people who look and act like Comic Store Guy on Simpsons…
…and who justify the stereotype, in part, by doing such a terrible job (Joe Doakes excepted) of explaining why we should care? Reading sci-fi fans’ “explanations” of the Hugo Award flap is like reading about “Gamergate”; clogged with subcultural jargon that, like all subcultural argot, is intended to make the subculture opaque to outsiders.
And it works! What is a “sad puppy?” (Joe explains it adequately, in context, which is a first). What in the f*****g f*****g f*** is “Dragoncon?” Who is who, and how do we know, and for the love of The Force, why does it matter?
So it’s a start. Thanks, Joe.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Supreme Court justices write lengthy opinions to explain and justify their decisions. Must they? Or is that simply cover to placate the mob?
Suppose when the next gun control case comes up, Justice Kennedy is joined by the Liberals to make a majority and writes an opinion that says: “From this moment on, the Second Amendment means that only government agents are allowed to possess firearms and ammunition. Because we said so, that’s why. So waddya gonna do about it?”
Seriously, what would we do about it? There’s no higher court to appeal to. Congress can’t pass a law that trumps the Constitution, changing it requires a Constitutional Amendment and in this political climate, is there any real chance we could get Congress to adopt a proposed amendment reversing the decision and then convince 38 states to ratify it?
And if they did ratify a Constitutional Amendment that says “Every competent law-abiding adult has the right to possess firearms and ammunition,” suppose the Supreme Court said “The new Constitutional Amendment is unconstitutional and shall be given no effect. Because we said so.” What then? Ignore the court? Can’t – Liberals like Obama would send troops to confiscate privately held firearms in a heartbeat, if they thought the Court would let them get away with it. Get Congress to impeach the justices? See above political climate problem.
Liberal Justices write legal-sounding opinions to give cover to their social engineering but they wouldn’t have to. They could be as blatant as they wanted and there’s no real-world thing we could do about it. They are unelected dictators for life, imposing their views to the acclaim of popular media, from whose decisions there is no appeal: philosopher-kings, just as Mitch called them earlier. Kim Jong-un in North Korea wishes he had it so good.
I blame Madison for making the big power grab in the Marbury case. I have no solution short of Constitutional Convention or another revolution.
Let’s shoot for “convention”. It’s a bit soon for another civil war.
In the interest of telling all the news that fits (the narrative), the NYTimes has turned its crack Democrat party relations group political journalists loose on…
Out on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Scott Walker has left “Wiscahnsin” back home in Wisconsin. He now wants to strengthen the economy, not the “ecahnahmy.” And while he once had the “ahnor” of meeting fellow Republicans, he told one group here this week that he simply enjoyed “talkin’ with y’all.”
The classic Upper Midwest accent — nasal and full of flat a’s — is one of several Walker trademarks to have fallen away this month after an intense period of strategizing and coaching designed to help Mr. Walker capitalize on his popularity in early polls and show that he is not some provincial politician out of his depth.
The Times also notes, for the aid of the brain damaged, that Walker, who is running for President, has changed his focus from Wisconsin to National issues. Thanks, Times.
NPR at least had the intellectual honesty to talk with a linguist who noted that people tend to tailor their own accents to their audiences.
Which may the reason the Times hasn’t written about this:
But I’m going to suggest “intellectual honesty” has nothing to do with it.
Flint-Smith Dayton has promised that I agree with, and that’ll make Minnesota a better place.
Winning the battle for the English Language is always a challenge when you’re a conservative. The left understands, and wages without mercy, the war for the language.
And for the most part, the media reflects the left’s view of how language portrays things.
So it’s been interesting watching the media coverage of the raft of Gun Rights bills. In a Twin Cities media that will refers to using ones’ carry permit as “packing heat” so frequently it’s beyond satirizable, there’ve been some improvements.
This past few weeks, a bill that would allow Minnesotans to join 39 other states in owning mufflers for their guns has been advancing though committee.
And it’s been interesting reading the headlines that local news organizations having been using for the story (in this case taken from online coverage); do they refer to gun mufflers with techical accuracy as “suppressors”, or with conspiratorial, theatrical scaremongering as “silencers”.
Here are some examples, with emphasis added by me:
So minor kudos to the Twin Cities media; at least as re the very basics of language, you’re coming around ever so slightly.
Now, if we could do something about using the term “packing heat”, like, ever…
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
The Obama Administration says banning ammunition protects the right to keep and bear arms.
It’s as if their speech-writer is a computerized buzz-word generator. Doesn’t make any sense, doesn’t have to, won’t fool anybody and isn’t intended to. It’s just soothing white noise.
I’ve been observing this for the past few years – mostly from Obama, but the Minnesota DFL as adopted it as well:
It’s brilliant, really, if sliding into petty dictatorship is what you’re after.