Tag Archives: Language

Language and Thought, by Walter E. Williams

Corrupt the language and you corrupt the mind. From Walter E. Williams at theburningplatform.com:

Language and Thought

Seventeenth-century poet and intellect John Milton predicted, “When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation.” Gore Vidal, his 20th-century intellectual successor, elaborated saying: “As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate.” Sloppy language permits people to get away with speaking and doing all manner of destructive nonsense without being challenged.

Let’s look at the concept of “white privilege,” the notion that white people have benefited in American history relative to, and at the expense of, “people of color.” It appears to be utter nonsense to suggest that poor and destitute Appalachian whites have white privilege. How can one tell if a person has white privilege? One imagines that the academic elite, who coined the term, refer to whites of a certain socioeconomic status such as living in the suburbs with the privilege of high-income amenities.

But here is a question: Do Nigerians in the U.S. have white privilege? As reported by the New York Post this summer, 17% of all Nigerians in this country hold master’s degrees, 4% hold a doctorate and 37% hold a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey. By contrast, 19% of whites have a bachelor’s degree, 8% have master’s degrees and 1% have doctorates.

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These People Are the “Enemies of Humanity”, by Doug Casey

The PC movement, taking a page from Orwell, wants to use language to shape people’s political perceptions and opinions. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Chris’ note: As longtime readers know, Doug Casey believes the politically correct (PC) movement is part of the accelerating collapse of Western civilization.

And this trend is getting worse by the day.

For example, San Francisco recently introduced a new “sanitized” language for criminals. You’re not supposed to say “convicted felon,” “delinquent,” or even “drug addict” now.

And that’s not the only example…

Below, Doug tells me why this is happening… who the true enemies are… and where he sees all this going from here…

Chris Reilly, managing editor, Casey Daily Dispatch: Doug, longtime readers know that you think the “politically correct” movement is destroying America. In fact, you’ve said in the past that “PC” culture is just “one more termite eating away at the foundations of Western civilization itself.”

And things don’t seem to be getting better.

San Francisco is the latest example.

It sounds crazy, but the city board recently “sanitized” a bunch of crime lingo. For instance, it’s getting rid of words such as “offender” and “addict.” Instead of “convicted felon,” you’re now supposed to say “justice-involved person.”

Are you surprised at all that this is happening?

Doug Casey, founder, Casey Research: No, I’m not surprised at all. It’s part of the accelerating collapse of civilization itself. And it’s not just a question of the language evolving, and people just saying things in different ways.

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Speaking of Manners, by Taki

The term “good breeding” is now undoubtedly politically incorrect, but it used to refer to people who had good manners. That’s not to imply good manners cannot be self-taught, in some cases they are. Unfortunately, good manners are becoming increasingly rare. From Taki at takimag.com:

Sometime during the 1920s, at an exclusive party at Count Boni de Castelanne’s, a great French lady felt herself beginning to die at the dinner table. “Quick, bring the dessert,” she whispered to the waiter.

She was not overcome by greed. She simply wished to hurry dinner along so as not to drop dead before the party rose from the table. In other words, she did not wish to cause discomfort to those present. Needless to say, the lady had impeccable manners.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I do not expect anyone nowadays to avoid leaving a room when feeling unwell in order to not cause discomfort for the rest. I simply brought up a true story to illustrate how far our mores and manners have fallen these past 100 years. Back then, a grand lady dropping dead would have caused somewhat of a scandal. The hostess of the dinner would have become associated with the death forevermore. Such were the joys of a closed society. Especially in Catholic France, where the old guard tried its best for years to resist the Napoleonic nouveaux, with their extraordinary titles granted to them by the Emperor for having served him well on the battlefield. (Boni de Castellane’s family was titled long before the great Corsican came along, and his pink palace on Avenue Foch I remember well when I was young and lived nearby. Sadly, it is no longer there, torn down and replaced by apartment houses mostly inhabited by rich Arabs.)

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Language: The Indispensable Fundamental Actuator of False Orthodoxy, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

Mess with language and you can mess with people’s heads. From Doug Uncola Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

In Ayn Rand’s penultimate magnum opus, “The Fountainhead”, there was a minor antagonist by the name of Ellsworth Toohey whose raison d’etre was to undermine Rand’s ideal man and protagonist, Howard Roark.

Although Toohey considered his parasitical power as having a major stifling effect on capitalistic society, in reality, all his cumulative efforts ended up as a mere minor footnote in the long march of Man; as evidenced in the story’s denouement and ensuing towering city skylines.

Of course, much of Rand’s life consisted of excoriating the parasitical aspect of the Collectivists and their government, as both defined by dependency; in stark contrast to the rugged self-reliance of the men who moved the world.

In The Fountainhead, a discussion took place whereby Toohey said he wanted to make the “ideological soil” infertile to the point where young heads would explode prior to expressing any individuality (or similar to that).  Then, later, near the end, Toohey asked Roark what Roark thought of him, and the egoistic, self-reliant architect replied: “But I don’t think of you.”

In reality, is it possible today to ignore the Collective? Or, has it propagated sufficiently to where it can be ignored no longer?

Acceptance of reality requires honesty.  And the author Ayn Rand identified reason as the means for Man’s thriving existence on this blue marble. Therefore, if we are to examine reality with honesty, then we must by all means factor logic and time as follows:

 If (this), then (that)

Stated another way, either the decisions we make now will improve our reality in the days ahead –  or, we will be worse off than we are at present.

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It’s not “Public” . . . and the “Mainstream” Media Isn’t, by Eric Peters

It’s easier to pull one over on people if you use—and it becomes generally accepted—sloppy, imprecise language. From Eric Peters on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

You have probably heard someone refer – accurately – to government (rather than public) schools.

We need more such clarity.

More such honesty.

It deprives them – authoritarian collectivists – of the moral sanction they must have in order to keep otherwise decent people in thrall to them. To prevent criticism or even questioning of authoritarian collectivism by preventing any meaningful conversation about it. They use words to shut you up. To get you to accept the terms of the debate before there is a debate. So that there is no debate.

“Public” – schools or otherwise – is a shyster term. Purposely dishonest. The “public” – who is that, exactly? – owns absolutely nothing. Physical property is always – must be – owned by specific living, actual people. And ownership is defined by which living, specific people control the property.
Do you control the – not your – local “public” school? Can you enter at will? Or must you obtain permission? Are you free to use it as you like? Or are you told how you may use it? Do you have any meaningful control over the teachers – or what is taught? Can you fire a teacher? Adjust the curricula an iota?


Tear off the euphemism Band Aid; let’s get to the suppurating sore underneath and have a look.

A government school is controlled by the people who work for the government. Who constitute the government, by dint of having the power to exercise control over other people and other things.

To continue reading: It’s not “Public” . . . and the “Mainstream” Media Isn’t

The Quacking of Ducks, by Eric Peters

Corrupt language and you corrupt or end thought. From Eric Peters on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Here’s the trouble.

Most people can’t read… and so, can’t think.

Not quite literally, perhaps. But, meaningfully. They have been taught – very deliberately – to be sloppy and fluid with words. A given word has a vague, constantly shifting meaning – that meaning transmitted and accepted by a kind of semi-conscious collective osmosis. You “get the drift” – and the word is henceforth used accordingly. It is not necessary to formally announce the new meaning. It just sort of happens.

Examples include liberal and fascist.

A liberal was once a person who believed that people ought to be let alone; that government, if it has any role in human affairs, ought to have a very minimal and background role. That it was tyrannical to control other people, to interfere in their lives, to deprive them of their property, to compel them to fund things they abhorred. Thomas Jefferson was a liberal in this sense.

We all know what is meant by “liberal” today.

It is not Thomas Jefferson.

What about “fascist”? It is among the most inaccurately used words in the language.

Trump was derided as a fascist for criticizing open borders – and (key thing) open-ended federal entitlements. In other words, it is racist – the new meaning of “fascist” – to object to or even question “helping” (another much-abused word) random strangers from other countries who are helping themselves (with help from the government) to the contents of our wallets.

To continue reading: The Quacking of Ducks

He Said That? 9/3/15

From George Orwell, PolItics and the English Language, (1946):

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But the effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible.

The last sentence remains an unproven assertion.

The War On Abstract Thought, by Robert Gore

Two systems of abstraction allow humanity to think: language and mathematics. Both are systems of symbols, hierarchical, and governed by rules. There is a direct relationship between proficiency with these abstract systems and proficiency of thought, but both proficiencies start with fundamentals. The mind that appreciates the beauty of Shakespeare’s language first had to grasp “See Spot run.” The mind that understands the implications of E=M(CxC) once learned 9×9=81.

Yesterday, SLL posted James Howard Kunstler’s modest proposal to improve the situation in Baltimore and other urban disaster areas: “[T]each young black kids how to speak English correctly.” It is an excellent proposal, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. Conceptually, teaching either language or mathematics is fairly straightforward. As hierarchical systems, learning starts with the basic building blocks—letters and numbers. Once those are mastered, language education moves up to syllables, words, sentences, and so on; mathematics education proceeds from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division, theorems and proofs, algebra, geometry, and so on.

Just as nobody in economics ever got a PhD with a thesis about supply and demand, nobody in education got one explicating or extolling “old school” hierarchical, step-by-step learning. In both fields, academic honors are won with incoherent prose, complicated statistics, Greek-letter-equations, and abstruse theories. The fairly simple concepts both fields can honestly lay claim to have been discarded or dressed up to make them appear much more substantial than they actually are.

Education theses gather dust; the damage they’ve inflicted is evident in the lamentable state of language and mathematical proficiency among the majority of students, documented year after year by much-maligned standardized tests. While SLL claims no expertise in the arcane field “Education” has become, it appears that the crippling of students’ minds has had two broad components: dispense with step by step learning and jump among steps, on the theory that as the later steps are learned, the earlier steps will somehow be mastered, and dispense with hierarchies, on the theory that everything is interrelated, so by teaching everything at the same time, the student learns everything.

Evidently, “rote memorization” of foundational concepts has become the scourge of the educational establishment. First and second graders no longer repeat arithmetic and multiplication tables until they are drilled into their heads for life. Rather they are “exposed” to them, along with many other concepts, repeatedly through many grades, which leaves middle schoolers counting on their fingers as they try to perform the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division necessary for fractions, decimals, the Pythagorean theorem, and algebraic proofs. Similarly, words are not built syllabically through phonics; the parts of speech and rules of grammar are “discovered” rather than drilled, and standard methodologies about sentence, paragraph, and compositional structures are abandoned, scorned as inhibiting free expression. Consequently, students never learn how to give a coherent speech or presentation, or write a lucid report or essay. Most of them, however, are amazingly proficient at texting.

Learning language and mathematics basics takes time and is hard work, often involving rote memorization, but you can’t build a house before you lay the foundation. Life would indeed be simpler if we only communicated with grunts and gestures, and if our mathematics was limited to what could be done on our fingers and toes, but that takes us back to the stone age. It is the ability to formulate ever rising hierarchies of abstract concepts that has propelled the human race. Some have said the war on abstraction is being waged to dumb down humanity, making it easier for an elite group to rule. If that is the plan, it has gaping holes, as all such plans do. The weapons to threaten us, the technology to monitor us, the mass communications to propagandize us, and the economy that supposedly would provide our bare subsistence and the rulers’ aristocratic splendor all require high-level abstraction and consequently, high-level thought. The war on abstract thought will have no winners.


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