I admit it:  I’m in danger of being a language bore.

'The decadence of our language is probably curable' - George Orwell's optimistic assessment in 1946.

I’m that guy who, when you say you’re ‘honing in’ on something, asks derisively if you’ve ever heard of a honing pigeon or a honing missile.

If you call me a ‘font of information’, I’m liable to take offence on the grounds that a font is a shallow bowl used for church christenings, and I’d rather be a fount, thank you.

And I’m watching with regret as the word ‘disinterested’ gradually loses its original meaning – ‘unbiased by personal involvement or advantage; not influenced by selfish motives’ – and becomes synonymous with ‘uninterested’.

Language was bound to be important to me, admittedly. I took a degree in English language and literature at university, and I’ve made my living by talking and writing in English for the last thirty-five years, so I have an interest purely as a craftsman.

But over time, I’ve come to the view that the importance of language goes deeper: that the way we use language can affect the way we think and act, and that if the misuse of language is pervasive enough, it will infect society itself.

George Orwell was one of the first to say this. In his essay ‘Politics And The English Language’, he writes: “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 an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely”.

Orwell identified a series of linguistic crimes which made writing dull, ambiguous, or plain misleading.

He deplored what he called ‘dying metaphors’, (cliches), pretentious diction, and meaningless abstractions.

Orwell put it another way in his most famous novel, 1984, by creating a debased language, Newspeak, and describing a society in which the language has been so squeezed and reduced that the very thought of its citizens has been crushed – because they no longer have words in which they can express freedom or opposition.

Don Watson, whose new book I have been looking through, is doing his best to carry on in the Orwell tradition.

I say ‘looking through’ because ‘Bendable Learnings’ (out later this week) is not the kind of book you can read for long without being taken by an almost uncontrollable desire to hurl it across the room.

You get the flavour from the title. What are “learnings” anyway? It’s a word used exclusively in management jargon, and apparently invented by someone who had never heard the word “lessons”.

This sort of jargon is taking over, and as Watson argued in a piece last week, it’s doing real damage in the real world. 

I open his book of quotes at random: “We work at a strategic level to understand an organisation’s human capital needs so that targeted solutions can be designed and implemented to meet business objectives”. 

Again: “Leaders are also taught how to reshape their companies’ genetic code ... by teaching them how to graft practices into their patterns of engagement”.

And again: “A Change Management Practitioner has mastery of the change principles, processes, behaviours and skills necessary to effectively identify, manage, initiate and influence change, and manage and support other through it”.

This is the written equivalent of radio static. Some of it is filler, some is pretentious overstatement designed to bamboozle the reader into thinking simple words – say, leadership or change – are not enough. Some of it is gobbledygook, pure and simple.  As Watson puts it: “Lo! A whole new industry was born, and a mighty lode for consultants revealed. Armed with the knowledge and the tools, the evangelists moved across the continents, dispensing learnings unknown to all previous generations, along with colourful mouse-pads, beanie dolls, screensavers, posters, movies and invoices, all bearing the message and the company logo”.

Anyone who works in a large institution will recognise this kind of guff. Most people shrug it off and get on with their everyday work. But there’s plenty about the abuse of the language which hurts us much more directly, and which we can do very little about.

Take global finance, the world of derivatives and put options from which most of us were excluded throughout the boom (or more correctly bubble) years, not only because of the complexity of the financial ‘instruments’ themselves, but because of the language in which they were cloaked. I freely admit that until the crash, I had no idea what a sub-prime mortgage was, or that a CDO was essentially a vehicle for parcelling up worthless loans and calling them prime assets. Hence Watson devotes no less than seven pages to quotes from the once near-sainted Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Politicians, whose decisions have real effects on our lives, are also serial offenders. For some reason, the Victorian Premier John Brumby seems to have an inordinate number of entries; perhaps he fears the consequences should he one day express himself in plain English.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Churchill wrote some of the clearest, simplest English ever put on paper. Menzies and Whitlam were both capable of expression that was plain while still eloquent. Everyone knows that Kevin Rudd is a brainy politician: when he uses a phrase like ‘programmatic specificity’ he’s not communicating, he’s building a wall of words which the rest of us can’t penetrate.

Orwell’s conclusions still hold good, I think. His recommendations are ones which I try to remember every day.

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Never use the passive where you can use the active.

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

The battle – what Martin Amis called The War Against Cliché – goes on.

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    • Bad_Manners says:

      07:36am | 30/09/09

      I see and hear it all too often at work.  Report writers who “appraise” their boss of the situation. Appraise = evaluate. Apprise = inform.  Why not just say “I told the boss”.

      How about “I brought a car”?  My question. “Why did you bring it? Oh you mean you BOUGHT a car?”

      “I bought my MP3 player with me.”  “You bought it with yer what? Credit Card? Last Pay Packet?”

      I blame it on the makers of mobile phones.  They ought to have made SMS so that anyone who didn’t use correct spelling would have their phone immediately lock them out until they have had an opportunity to consult a dictionary.

    • Eric says:

      07:51am | 30/09/09

      Then there’s the misuse of made-up words like “homophobia” (which literally means “fear of sameness”. And fake labels such as “stolen generations”, or using the words “asylum seekers” to describe illegal immigrants. Plenty of grist for the language abuse mill.

    • Paul says:

      07:55am | 30/09/09

      I heard some choice Ruddspeak: ‘social compact’. I’m not sure whether it means I’m a dumbass or he’s sidestepping some social issue? But I have worked out if you meet someone with 3-4 words plus in their job title, (watch especially for words like ‘strategic’ and ‘communications’) you are dealing with an A-grade tosser.

    • BigAl says:

      08:47am | 30/09/09

      Excellent piece, Mark, and I agree with everything you say.

      But I was surprised to read “Hence Watson devotes no less than seven pages . . . “

      Surely you meant to write: “Hence Watson devotes no fewer than seven pages . . . “

      Q: Who led the Pedants’ Revolt?

      A: Which Tyler

    • Chris says:

      09:04am | 30/09/09

      Thanks for your value-added input Mark. This is game-changing stuff — really outside-the-box thinking. This mindshare has many take aways for going forward. Being a proactive organisational change agent, my team and I will workshop and whiteboard the viability of these options (using an experiential active learning methodology, of course), before conducting a comprehensive feasibility study into their strategic application and utilisation.

    • RT says:

      09:14am | 30/09/09

      I’ve always been in two minds about this. (Or as some say, ‘two mimes’). On one hand, I deplore the sort of barbaric mangling of the language that you hear and read all around you. I don’t like the invention or use of complex terms or words when useful simple ones exist.

      On the other hand (is that an unacceptable metaphor? Maybe I should have said ‘alternatively’), we have to recognise that English has always been an evolving language, where words are invented, discarded,  take on new meaning and lose former meaning. ‘Disinterested’ and ‘uninterested’ will merge and one will disappear, because they are so similar but with different meanings. That’s unsustainable.

      My favourite malapropism is the confusion between ‘incidents’ and ‘incidence’. This type of confusion mainly arises with people whose reading is limited and pick up new words aurally. It’s therefore understandable, but perhaps not forgiveable. I mention ‘it’s’. Most commonly confused with ‘its’.

      And Big Al, you are right about ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, but does it REALLY matter if they are ‘misused’? If so, how?

      Eric, your examples are no more than an example of misuse of language for a political purpose. If people arriving without visas and seeking asylum are ‘illegal immigrants’ as you claim, how come they are never charged with a crime? I’ll tell you. Because there is no such crime, it’s legal to arrive in this country and seek asylum. It’s illegal to stay on, having been refused it. I’ll bet you know that, but choose to ignore it and instead distort the facts to suit your own bias.

    • Chris says:

      09:17am | 30/09/09

      “Anybody who uses the work ‘workshop’ who’s not connected with light engineering? is a twat” — Alexei Sayle

    • Chris says:

      09:20am | 30/09/09

      Take 2: “Anybody who uses the word ‘workshop’ who’s not connected with light engineering? is a twat” — Alexei Sayle

    • Liz says:

      09:25am | 30/09/09

      We could all go on and on,those of us who still love language and words.Language changes and each generation is probably saddened but living things grow and develop.That’s real life!

    • Beatrix says:

      09:27am | 30/09/09

      Excellent piece Mark.

      My personal favourite or hatred rather is the commonly used ‘orientated’ as opposed to ORIENTED.

      Orientated is not a word however I have seen it used constantly in the media and advertisements.

      “No, he is not ‘family ORIENTATED’, he is ‘family ORIENTED’ thank you very much!”

      I also blame the death of the English language on technology. We are forever connected through various forms of social networking sites yet there are very few people we can converse and communicate with in reality. We can express feelings in 134 characters yet we cannot hold a stranger’s attention for five minutes with the art of language but we flutter on about what so-and-so said on facebook the other day.

      I believe the English language is dying; its lustre fading; the romance in the art of language replaced with a quickie in as few characters as possible!

    • iansand says:

      10:23am | 30/09/09

      What concerns me most is that education departments are hotbeds of non-communication.  What hope do we have?

    • Zeta says:

      10:29am | 30/09/09

      Sorry Mark, but you’re already a language bore. So is every other grammar and syntax nazi out there.

      English is the most beautiful language spoken on Earth, and will continue to out live all others because it’s a highly evolved organism in a sea of evolutionary dead ends. Even where other languages are changing, they’re changing to accomadate more and more English words. People who want to keep English static and staid are the problem, not the people who mangle the language for their own purposes.

      It’s elitist, intellectual snobbery of the worst kind. Some of the best writers of our time played fast and loose with the institutional rules of language and grammar.

    • BigAl says:

      10:39am | 30/09/09

      RT, at the end of the day (cliche alert!), in the overall scheme of things (ditto), it probably matters very little, if at all. But it gives us something to talk about.

      Zeta, no one wants to keep English static.The Americans, for example, can be wonderfully innovative and creative with language.  But as you say, English is a beautiful language. It’s capable of great subtlety and precision. The real concern among some “elitist, intellectual snobs” is that the beauty, subtlety and precision of the language are being lost through laziness and ignorance.

    • WC says:

      10:45am | 30/09/09

      I ask all the mighty defenders of the English Language at what point in time in history should we have frozen accepted definitions, pronunciations, spellings and grammar? 

      I personally can’t wait until “they” becomes an officially recognised gender neutral pronoun alternative to his or her.  Who cares if it has until this point been used only for the plural, there is a need for a word to use instead of he/she and ‘they’ is convenient and generally understandable.

      I also question your use of Orwell’s Newspeak to support your bemoaning of public and common misuses and abuses of language.  Newspeak was a product of authoritative control of language and as such it is better used as an argument to stop the elitist authorities from deciding how the population will use the language. 

      Language should be judged by the audience it is directed towards and in this vain I agree we need some more direct speaking from politicians. 

      Perhaps we should just all speak Latin and do away with this butchered language we call English.

    • R.E.L. says:

      10:46am | 30/09/09

      Zeta, you could (should?) have summarised your passion for the devlovement of the English language with a *grunt* and saved all that energy typing.

      Mark, my favourite suffix to bash is “-person” or “-woman”. WRONG!
      The correct suffix is always “-man”.
      This is not politically incorrect, it is pure English. The suffix “-man” is short for “human” not “male”. Therefore there is no such thing as a “chairwoman” or “chairperson”, etc.
      Furthermore, we are all part of mankind, not “humankind” nor “personkind”.

    • Biff says:

      10:53am | 30/09/09

      If anyone wants to hear the English language strangled all they have to do is hop on a CityRail train and listen to the unique language used by the train guards.

    • Lawrie Zion says:

      11:03am | 30/09/09

      Hey Mark, thanks for the knowledge transfer. And its good to be apart of this discussion.

    • DG says:

      11:20am | 30/09/09

      There are many pressures on the English language. Each pushing in its own direction, and with its own motivation. In my mind the most disgraceful are:

      (a) the gender debate - if the issue is bout discrimination then by all means persecute those that discriminate. The English language does not discriminate, the use of the suffix “man” is not a reference to male, nor should it be construed as such. Attempting to find discrimination where there is none damages the equal rights movement

      (b) deliberate deception - I feel that this is the point that Orwell was making in 1984. English is a language that can dazzle with its beauty and baffle with bulldust, when we allow language to be used to baffle. The purpose of language is to communicate, when it is used for any other purpose if is being contaminated and it’s capacity for use as a form of communication is diminished.*

      The following quote from Terry Pratchett in “Going Postal” makes it clear:
      “You had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency and then sent to walk the gutter .... , although ‘synergistically’ had probably been a whore from the start.”

      (c) laziness - With SMS being the main method of written communication between teenagers (who would probably shorten that to “teens”?), accuracy is less important than speed. After all the purpose of the message is to communicate, if the other person understands where is the harm?

      I am also of the opinion that increasing aural communication adds to the problem with words such as stationary and stationery or there, they’re and their. It becomes difficult to expect a child who doesn’t read for leisure to appreciate the differences between those words and to know which words should be used in a particular situation. However, I do not think this should be considered a disgraceful pressure on the English language, it appears to be a process of evolution.

    • Nick says:

      11:30am | 30/09/09

      My personal pet hate is the confusion of few and less. The rule is simple: if it can be counted, the correct use is few. If it is in bulk or mass, then use less. The sentence “less people attended soccer matches this year.” is nonsense. Does this mean only short and skinny folk turned up this year?

      I also dislike alternate where alternative is intended, eg “He was placed on alternate duty”. Does this mean he only has to turn up every second day?

      And of course it’s far too late to bemoan the merging of due and owing.

      Re Cityrail: how about this gem on a guard’s hut on Central: “Staff only to enter” Aren’t they allowed to do anything other than enter? How do they get out? No wonder we have staff shortages on the rail network! Surely they mean “Only staff to enter”

      And while we’re on the subject of language change, who can translate this for me:
      “Yesty arvo I cadged a lift with Johnno. We double dinked on his bike and when we got home some friends lobbed and we played big ring. I waxed with Johnno because he’s a gun. I won a bull’s eye and a couple of cat’s eyes.”
      When I was at primary school just after the war (Second) this would have been common parlance!

    • Dani says:

      11:31am | 30/09/09

      Zeta: English is probably one of the most ugly languages on earth. Originally cobbled together from a variety of other Anglo languages, it has no particular rhythm, style or rules. Spanish, Italian and French are particularly beautiful - you only need to hear it spoken aloud to know it, but studying the intricacies of those languages makes it even more apparent.
      However, like you say, other languages are changed to include more English, but I would say that this is not because it is a “beautiful” language, but the dominant one, used by the world’s economic and cultural leaders.

    • Stuart Willis says:

      11:52am | 30/09/09

      Proposition 1: Semantics are important. Words have specific meanings: Font is not fount; Disinterest is not uninteresting.

      Proposition 2: Technical language is bad. Why say Sub Prime Mortgage when you can say Mortgage?

      The flaw here is that technical language - from global finance to cultural theory to journalism per se -  is technical precisely because of its commitment to semantics. Subtle shades of meaning.


      So what is it you’re really arguing? Oh - you don’t like it when people use language you can’t understand (“excluded”, “I had no idea what a sub-prime mortgage was”).

      What is particularly interesting is how the article shift from a first person perspective into a larger group perspective: “I’m liable to take offence” becomes “most of us were excluded”. It’s a classic rhetorical trick designed to create a false sense of identification. Yes, it’s plain language, but it’s still deceptive, political language.

      Personally, I have a greater fear of people confusing good writing with good thinking. For me, that was the core of Orwell’s rallying cry against “political language”  - that it could give the appearance of “solidity to pure wind” and “make murder respectable”. His recommendations were possible ways to avoid that core problem but weren’t the problem itself.

    • Paul says:

      11:59am | 30/09/09

      But what about Newspeak successfully training people to think the opposite of the weasel word? Or to decode Newspeak. For instance, when a pollie says ‘community consultation’ I take that as code we are about to get railroaded on something.

    • Philo says:

      12:00pm | 30/09/09

      Viva le metafore! They function as conceptual shorthand, replacing an otherwise clumsy verbosity of the ‘plain’ language

    • Vicki PS says:

      12:00pm | 30/09/09

      Echoing Alexei Sayle:
      “Anyone who says ‘at the coalface’ when they have never been near a mine is a twat”. 
      Are we all in agreeance with that?

    • Jonathan Appleyard says:

      12:15pm | 30/09/09

      Even worse: people who say they’ve been at the “coldface”, when they “should of” said coalface.

      Great article.

    • Christine says:

      12:28pm | 30/09/09

      The incorrect use of “fulsome” is a favourite. Promulgated by many, even Alan Jones

    • realto says:

      12:28pm | 30/09/09

      I’d like to know why the term ‘a perfect storm’ has recently become such a widespread cliche. ‘A perfect storm of debt’ ‘a perfect storm of denials’ etc. I think it’s supposed to mean an unusual alignment of factors but it’s so commonly used to describe unremarkable things as to become meaningless, just something people fling around ‘willy-nilly’ (another of my pet hates, that word).

    • stephen says:

      12:34pm | 30/09/09

      Language is nice, and there are other ways to create that sentiment which inspires us to communicate : images in a painting and melodies in a song. (It may have been only by accident that we express through words ; to say, like “pass the butter” might have been said by tapping a rythum.

    • Kidguru says:

      12:38pm | 30/09/09

      I’m looking forward to connecting to the NBN and having “fibre to the premise”

    • William Colvin says:

      01:07pm | 30/09/09

      If I here one more blibbering muggle say “In one foul swoop” in the place of “In one FELL swoop”.....

    • Jonathan Crossfield says:

      01:50pm | 30/09/09

      Language and effective writing has become the most under appreciated skill on the planet. People assume that because they can read and write, they can produce business documents, website copy and more without calling on the experts. And then they hide their amateur linguistics behind overly complex constructions and jargon out of some belief that it shows ‘professionalism’ or ‘intelligence’.

      If I had a penny for every time someone has told me its more professional to use big words and convoluted sentences - well, I’d be guilty of cliche.

      Just because a person can drive a car doesn’t mean they can rebuild the engine. Similarly, just because a person can read or write to a high school level doesn’t mean they can write to a professional standard.

      I frequently quote the Orwellian rules where I work as communications manager. Doesn’t prevent me having to proofread pages of impenetrable corporate drivel every day and inevitably rewrite it so it can be understood by the average reader.

      Writing and language is never about the speaker or writer. It is always about the listener or reader. Shame this is almost always forgotten.

    • Stephen Pickells says:

      01:57pm | 30/09/09

      I cand stand those ads that say a movie is only is cinemas on a certain date. You would think that with all the money spent on production and promotion, it would make sense to show it for more than one day.
      Also on the debate about font. I hate it when people say something is printed in a small font. In this case, font is the typeface, not the point size.
      On the subject of reading versus listening, obviously both are important. If you don’t read, you won’t know when to write there, their or they’re. But If you never listen to the word, you won’t know how to pronounce it. This can make you look like an even bigger tool.

    • delperro says:

      02:00pm | 30/09/09

      I find that the most useful article ever written about language and a must see for all those who seek to know more about it.
      Sadly, I was directed to that book by Frank Luntz, in “Words that work”. Luntz is a serial debaser of the language, he’s the guy he changed global warming to climate change, named the Clean Air Act as such (it meant more pollution could be released).
      I guess what I’m saying is Colvin, that juts because you know how words work, doesn’t make you a better person.

    • Stephen Pickells says:

      02:07pm | 30/09/09

      Other words I hate are invariably instead of always, and arguably instead of no word at all. I mean, what does this word contribute to a statement?
      “This is arguably the finest sub-prime mortgage ever” actually means “I believe it to be true, but somebody could easily challenge this opinion”.

    • Mark G says:

      02:19pm | 30/09/09

      Who decided that ‘reticent’ was to be used instead of ‘reluctant’? I hear people say they’re ‘reticent to do something.” Reticent means “not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily”, not an unwillingness to do something. Yes, the language changes. But why do the meanings of words change? And who decides?

    • delperro says:

      02:26pm | 30/09/09

      Hey Stephen, what about “going forward”. Tell me one sentence where it adds meaning.

    • Phil says:

      02:36pm | 30/09/09

      Great article, but no-one likes a pendant.

    • Kidguru says:

      03:04pm | 30/09/09

      Absolutely!

    • eddie says:

      03:34pm | 30/09/09

      If you were to judge the literacy level of some of those who post comments on this site by their spelling and grammar, you would wonder if they were capable of reading the article on which they are commenting.
      The common mispronounciation that grates on my nerves most is the trend of attaching a “k” to the end of words ending in “thing” eg “somethink” or “anythink”.

    • Mat says:

      03:56pm | 30/09/09

      Really interesting article Mark, and a high quality discussion. Pet peeve? “Quantum leap”. A quantum leap is a significant and quick change, but one that happens at the sub-atomic level. Yet it’s generally used (usually by journalists who should no better) to describe a large and significant change.

      And the extraneous “what”. “We played better than what we did last Saturday.” No! It’s “We played better than we did last Saturday.” This one I’ve only noticed coming in in the last few years.

    • Vian says:

      04:02pm | 30/09/09

      Actually, REL, you’re right for the wrong reason.  -MAN at the end of chairman historically comes from the Latin for “hand”  -manus.  Not so with fireman or postman, of course, but since not all firefighters or posties are male any more, we have to find more sensible and accurate things to call them.  Your notion of One Pure and True English is charming, but dated, though.

    • Jack says:

      04:14pm | 30/09/09

      You can’t be a pedant if you think the word is “mispronounciation”.

    • Stephen Pickells says:

      04:15pm | 30/09/09

      To delperro:
      “When driving a car, providing that it’s working properly, the engine has been switched on, the brake is disengaged,  you are in one of the gears other than reverse and you apply pressure to the accelerator pedal, you will find that you are going forward.”

    • iansand says:

      05:05pm | 30/09/09

      Ten times smaller or a tenth the size?  Are you with me?

    • Clover says:

      05:12pm | 30/09/09

      I was put in charge of a group of volunteers at my church and told that I was now their ‘oversight’. OVERSIGHT!! ARGH!

      *deep breaths*

      I asked calmly if this meant that I was supposed to ignore or forget them, and received only a blank stare.

    • Jess says:

      07:09pm | 30/09/09

      Interesting article, albeit somewhat hysterical. For the author, and all the commenters clinging to dear life to a fallacy: there is no speak-by-numbers English. Common usage is King. You may accept it, you may not, but there it is. That is how spoken language is learned, not from some magickal Bible of Grammar.

      Having said that, I will admit there is a world of difference between bending the language rules to better describe what you want to say, and bending words and grammar rules because you don’t have the benefit of education or industry to know the meaning or origin of the words that you want to say. It makes me sad, and sometimes angry, when people say something that is incongruous, because they don’t know any better.

      However, in reading this article, and some of the comments, I get the feeling that there is a greater investment in having A Right Way adhered to rather than a toolkit of well-polished and diverse instruments used for expressing ourselves and reaching a common understanding with others. Totalitarianism anyone?

    • Julian says:

      11:51pm | 30/09/09

      Tell Rudd he’s full of crap and ask him to BLOODY SPEAK ENGLISH. And this is also relevant to all the other politicians who spend half their days waffling to prove the size of their pay packets. Come on time-wasters, SPEAK ENGLISH!!

    • Adster says:

      07:17am | 01/10/09

      “His recommendations are ones which I try to remember every day.”
      Cut ‘which’. Thanks!

    • Darryl Price says:

      09:27am | 01/10/09

      Worse than “learnings” in place of “lessons”, the past 5-6 years has seen “pedagogy” - the art of being a teacher - and its various forms used to describe almost anything to do with schooling. Why not just keep it simple. Also - “way, shape or form” - a Ruddworthy qualification of anything you wish to say - absolutely cringeworthy. “Going/moving forward” in place of “from here on” is really getting a hold as well - beware this example of nonspeak.

    • Jose Imenez says:

      06:01am | 25/05/10

      Confusing good writing with good thinking.

      Awk! No. not the Great Auk, but the Awk! of exasperation.
       
      Correct writing arrives from correct thinking, neither of which has been taught since Rockefeller tampered with education as noted in the book,
      “The Leipzig Connection” by Paolo Lioni.

        Liz claimed “Language changes…”  Fascinating! And how, exactly does language do that? Language has been changed. Language cannot of itself change itself. Sloppy thinking results in thoughtless assertions that go on to become memetic. Mind virii, that infect thinking as sure as biological virii infect thinking.
      I once asked a lawyer friend, “What distinguishes the layman form the lawyer?”
      His reply, “The exquisiteness of language.” satisfied my question.

      Those who desire to become lawyers receive training in the use of language and thinking that to my mind needs to be introduced from grade school on up if we are to become proficient thinkers, speakers and writers

 

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From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

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Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more

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