A real threat to the British Empire


At the time of writing, I don’t know what “gaslighting” means. Isn’t it a “bench”, “mirror”, “sealed” or-an asset management boutique? -“Lime Rock”. “Performance”, I know, but the world doesn’t seem to have this word. Until five minutes ago, the use of this word itself has become performance.

These have not even entered the Anthony Burgess level of identity politics new words. Instead of “both sides”-why is it always a verb? -But conservatives hardly exceed one or two phrases. What does “virtue signal” add to “holiness”? Who doesn’t like the “snowflakes” in the hands of poets like Longfellow?

The variation of language is something that enhances life. But I want to know whether English has ever been as volatile as it is now. If these changes remain at the level of slang or subculture, they will only be of academic interest. On the contrary, what we have is constantly infiltrating the mainstream.

One of its carriers is the daunting promoter known as the company. It has never seen a social fashion that will not succumb to a quiet life. The other is the public sector. I am looking for “equality, diversity and inclusion” NHS webpage, One of the largest employers in the world. In a way, it is literate (beware of “white supremacy”), and it is a glossary of “allies”, “life experiences” and other medical necessities.

There were two arguments against this nonsense. One is aesthetics. Vague jargon will hit your ears like the white noise of a refrigerator humming. Another objection of George Orwell is that it is politically insidious. The Soviet Union or the Nazis, the Jesuits or the anti-clerics, the perversion of language is the trick of the tyrant.

Let me raise a third, more strategic question. As the universal language of the world, English has only one threat. It is not Mandarin. It is not even the (overestimated) potential of translation technology. This is why the language itself has fallen into nonsense.

The speed and obscurity of vocabulary changes can plunge English into one thing that business, scientific, and diplomatic languages ​​cannot survive: chaos. I know that young native English speakers have failed to keep up. For people who learn it as a second language, the scope of errors is even greater.

Suppose you are an intermediate English student whose goal is fluency. You are trying to master the verb “centered”. A few years ago, concentrating oneself was doing something calm during stressful times: cooking is a concentrating pastime. Although this definition is new, it has once again evolved into something like “over-promotion”. If I attribute civil rights to Lyndon Johnson, then I am putting the white man in the black story. You can find the usage of the term in the newspapers that are said to have records.

Keep in mind that both of these meanings are not consistent with the meaning in the textbook, that is, centering is to move the object to the middle of the physical space. At some point, this ambiguity is no longer a proof of a soft and textured language. It becomes an unusable mark.

In his book on English, Kingsley Amis identified two enemies of the language. “Burks” said rudely and honestly. In their hands or mouth, English would die of impurity like late Latin. In contrast, “Wankers” are very precious. They cause English to die of purity, just like medieval Latin.

What we are facing now, our compatriots, is a mixture. Imagine a fool’s disregard for tradition, and the unsmiling passion of a masturbator. (I will mix these nicknames, but the result is consistent with a big FT reading profession.)

Ugly changes, I can bear. If you “call out” something and “circle” it to people, you sound like a fool, but your meaning is clear enough. “Responsible for the energy you bring” such a false dating profile is not too harmful. Trouble begins when language loses meaning instead of elegance.

That time is coming. I used to think that it is a blessing that English has never had its own French academy, and there are some VS Naipaul type people at its formidable helm. I want to know now. A non-French looseness allowed this language to take the world by storm, yes. But so is its clarity.

Email Janan at [email protected]

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About the Author: Agnes Zang