Re:       Re: Vocabula

Robert Hartwell Fiske Vocabula at AOL.COM
Sun Jun 22 15:21:36 UTC 2003

In a message dated 6/22/2003 10:51:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
RonButters at AOL.COM writes:

> The problem--again--is not that I disagree with it so much as that it is
> meaningless.

Ron, how can you even think of agreeing (or disagreeing) with something that 
you find meaningless? 

As for the meaningfulness of "A society is generally as lax as its language," 
I did give an example in my last post. In response to Grant's words  (which 
he wrote, I strongly suspect, because he felt some pressure to do so; he 
certainly was not, as I said, sufficiently familiar with Vocabula):

I'm sure I looked at the Vocabula Review site for ten minutes three
years ago, found it inoffensive, and whipped off a few lines to cover
the link. I couldn't tell you why I even bothered with a review. I'm no
Michiko Kakutani. I've looked at the VR site a few times since and have
usually felt the articles I had access to stopped about ten thousand
words short of explaining the true mission of their subtext. So, since
I added the link, I have come to concur with the general opinion on the
Vocabula Review.


I wrote:


Truly I had no contempt for linguists (though I didn't much care, as I made
plain, for the tone of the attacks against me), but I'm now understanding 
linguists (very well, some linguists) are lemming-like. However would you
manage if the country were overcome by terrorists or North Koreans or 
conservatives? Tergiversate? Become quislings? A society *is* generally as 
as its language.


(Grant, by the way, I applaud for later writing to me: "I've just paid 
through Amazon for a subscription. Show me your best. I'm willing to have my mind 
changed. Convince me.")

We would all be in misery if we necessarily agreed (or felt we had to agree) 
with whatever our peer groups, or our countrymen, believe. That is, my slogan 
is not so much about spelling mistakes and questionable usage (though it is 
also about these matters) as it is about circumlocution, euphemism, lying, and 
the like. (See the TVR Poll: <A HREF=""></A>). 

Not good enough? Read this:

> I have just discovered your site. What a relief. I have spent nearly all my 
> life trying to teach people to write clear, well-formed sentences in a 
> country where there is little acknowledgement of the need for such things. In the 
> past, under apartheid, there was every reason to use language to distort and 
> confuse reality. Now there is a rejection of standards in the name of 
> democracy and freedom. "A society is generally as lax as its language" strikes a 
> real chord. If you have read our president's explanation for the spread of 
> HIV/AIDS you will understand what I mean. The barbarians are camped beneath the 
> city walls. If you have a mailing list please put me on it. Otherwise, a 
> carrier pigeon or smoke signals will do. — Michael Rice  (South Africa)

CFR, CFR. Look around you. Examples are ubiquitous -- especially, these days, 
among the members of the Bush administration who have so deceived the world, 
and in effect, murdered hundreds if not thousands. The ruination of U.S. 
society (which has already begun -- don't ask for CFR, just think) may stem from 
the mendacity -- the lax language -- of Bush and his minions.  

Robert Hartwell Fiske
Editor and Publisher
The Vocabula Review

The Vocabula Review 
A measly $8.95 a year

The Vocabula Review
10 Grant Place
Lexington, MA 02420
United States
Tel: (781) 861-1515

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