Over at Patriactonary, Will S did a post about bullying. One of the points that he makes is that the term bullying is getting the rape treatment, which is to say that much like the word rape, it's being used to cover a broader and broader range of activities.
One of the interesting things about language is how one language is compared to another in worth. When I was in Greece, one of the natives told me that the Greek language has gone through several recorded fazes. Early on there was Homeric Greek, the language used in the Iliad and the Odyssey; then you had Koine Greek, the language the New Testament was written in; Medieval Greek; and lastly Modern Greek, which is what is spoken today. The interesting thing about the Greek language through history is that instead of advancing, the language has devolved, and is today more primitive than it was in the time of Homer. When I asked how one measured whether a language was superior or inferior, he said, among other things, that in Homeric Greek one could communicate a thought more precisely with fewer words.
The reason Will S's article made me reflect on this is that those who push for various PC causes, such as stopping bullying, are always trying to bring more and more things under their favorite buzz word categories. “You might not think it, but that's racism/bullying/sexism/harassment/etc. to.” The end result is to take away from the precision of the conversation, which then takes away from the precision of thought.
The desired end effect is to cut off people's ability to think about these issues, and instead have them simply react.
Your final point about thinking versus reacting is a very good insight.ReplyDelete
It reminds me of woman I knew i school who had a laptop with two stickers: one was a feminist sticker, the other one read: "The most dangerous people are those who think for themselves."
As expected, she was a typical garden-variety feminist. She very much felt she was thinking for herself, but she was just reacting as she had been taught.
Your point about the Greek language is also interesting. No wonder people misunderstand each other so much- our vocabularies are more limited and the words we know mean less. It's sad, but not unexpected.
The creation of new terms like 'date rape', or the muddying the definitions of words, redefining them so that, for example, yelling at one's spouse constitutes 'abuse' or 'violence', is very much in line with Orwell's conception of 'Newspeak', creating a new vocabulary so as to render older ways of thinking literally unthinkable.ReplyDelete
Right, but I think that there is even more going on with newspeak. I believe that is more about removing the negative connotations that come with certain words in an attempt to prevent people from learning from history. So for example the change from liberal to progressive does not actually change the political philosophy being described, but instead tries to remove the political philosophy from the negative experiential knowledge that people have of it.Delete
Ahh, you are right. After giving myself a refresher, it is very much both.Delete
Yes; Orwell was frighteningly prescient; here we are...Delete