linguistic degeneration (again)

Herb Stahlke hstahlke at GW.BSU.EDU
Tue Jun 5 20:49:55 UTC 2001

Ron's obviously right on the matter of linguistic degeneration.  However, strong, pointed words do lose their point by overuse.   If Seinfeld had been on TV 50 years ago, he probably wouldn't have used the term "soup nazi".  It would have been too inflammatory.  Now it's just mildly funny.  We speak regularly of collaborators.  50 years ago that was a heavily loaded word.  One could argue that the same thing is happening to racist and xenophobe, although I still find them pretty strong.


>>> RonButters at AOL.COM 06/05/01 12:55PM >>>
In a message dated 6/5/2001 1:10:50 PM, RFelton at ISA.ORG writes:

<< The screeching misuse of words such as 'racist' and 'xenophobe' have cost
them their sting; they've become catch-all imprecations that nobody listens
to because they're used too casually and inappropriately.  Certainly that is
a loss, or degeneration.
I've no idea what the rest of your post is about. >>

The meaning of my post is not at all difficult if one does not take it out of
the context of utterance:

1. RFelton at ISA.ORG asserted that "our language" has "undergone  ...
degeneration ... in recent years."

2. I responded that, in essence our language cannnot have "degenerated" in
recent years  because languages do not degenerate.

The fact that RFelton at ISA.ORG finds some one writer's use of two words (in
this case, "racist" and "xenophobic") not to his liking is evidence only that
RFelton at ISA.ORG does not find that writer's use of those two words not to the
liking of RFelton at ISA.ORG. The fact that RFelton at ISA.ORG asserts that such
words are "[mis]used" "screching[ly]," "too casually," and "inappropriately"
is likewise evidence of nothing of any empirical importance. For centuries
people have assumed that linguistic facts that they did not like were
evidence of "degeneration" of "the language." RFelton at ISA.ORG's post is more
of the same nonsense.

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