A Brief History of the Non-Sexual Use
and Abuse of the English Tongue

By John Ward

 

Catongue20English has been refined into an expressive tongue with a complex grammar system, pronunciation rules and all the requisite irregularities. But the rules still apply. I hate it when people use the pluperfect inappropriately, with incorrect past term verbs that feel like a heated ice pick being driven into my cochlea. “So she had went to the grocery store…” Arrgh! “She had gone to the grocery store…” but only if you are trying to establish that this event occurred before another event to which in the narrative. If not: “She went to the grocery store…” will suffice.

I am also nauseated by the incorrect use of expressions like “I couldn’t care less!” This means I care so little, that it would be impossible for me to care less. When this is turned into “I could care less!” I want to vomit. That is the opposite! It means you care enough that it is possible to care less than you do!

Some of the more insidious ways that language is abused is in politics and business. I remember Operation Desert Shield, which meant coalition troops would be sent to Saudi to protect their borders. (Why one of the richest nations in the world cannot protect their own borders is beyond me.) Then there was Operation Desert Storm for the attack on Iraq, in the administration of the more benign Bush. These are good operation names. They describe what is going on clearly.

However if you look at some of the names given in the last administration, you will see a dangerous abuse of the language. The next attack on Iraq was called “Operation Just Cause.” Makes you wonder who they were trying to convince. Then there were the laws that eviscerated the Bill of Rights: “The Patriot Act” so called so that if you opposed it you weren’t being patriotic. “The Homeland Security Act,” another brilliant name for draconian laws which stripped the American people of civil rights and liberties, but couched in language with which no-one can argue.

Now we have an economy which has been destroyed by the philosophy of a free and unregulated market being able to take care of itself which allowed crooked high-level executives to borrow money against assets at about thirty to one, pay themselves huge salaries and bonuses and then declare bankruptcy. In addition, while these unscrupulous piles of human feces destroyed their corporations and hence the livelihood of thousands of people and hence the economy of the country and hence that of the world, they are leaving these sinking ships with huge bonuses!

Performance bonuses are being paid to the very scoundrels whose performances destroyed the economy! So what solution does Wall Street, AIG, Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac propose? Don’t call the bonuses bonuses anymore.

The Huffington Post obtained a tape recording of Morgan Stanley Co-President, James Gorman, which clearly demonstrates his ability to distort the language.

“There will be a retention award. Please do not call it a bonus. It is not a bonus. It is an award.” The insult is that these people are so arrogant they think the taxpayer will not be able to tell the difference between a “bonus” and a “retention award.”

Then again, in a world where we accept the euphemism “Campaign Contribution” for “Bribe” and “enhanced interrogation” for torture; that if you oppose sending the troops into harm’s way, you are not “supporting the troops” and that the statement “Mission Accomplished” does not mean the war is over, perhaps these top execs have a point.

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

The Dark Side Of The Dream By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez, Arte Publico Press 434 pages $11.95 US Reviewed by ROB MOHR (Initially published in The
When Insults Had  Class....   These glorious insults are from an era when cleverness with words was still valued, before a great portion
History and Vision for the Lake Chapala Society By Arthur Melby   (Editor’s note: Arthur Melby, 92, is a longtime resident of Lakeside and was
Wondrous Wildlife By Vern and Lori Gieger Dark Days in Equine History   In the 1930’s during the transition of the US Army from Cavalry to Tanks,
RATHER CONFUSING SIGNS IN ENGLISH   In a Bangkok temple: IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN, EVEN A FOREIGNER, IF DRESSED AS A MAN. Cocktail lounge,
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
LAKESIDE LIVING Kay Davis Phone: 376 – 108 – 0278 (or 765 – 3676 to leave messages) Email: kdavis987@gmail.com November
Front Row Center By Michael Warren    The Pajama Game By Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton Music directed
LEGERDEMAIN—Italian Style By Jim Rambologna   Enzio Grattani was the Editor-in-Chief of a local rivista (or magazine) in Ajiermo, Italy. Locals
Every Word  Important By Herbert W. Piekow   Every word a writer writes has meaning yes, sometimes they never get published or the book

Visit our Advertisers

CASINO

Foliatti

CHIROPRACTIC

Dr. Victor J. Youcha

Interlago Chiropractic

CLEANING SERVICES

Gar & Wag

COMMUNICATIONS

Ishopnmail

COMPUTERS

Benno

Our Issues

January 2016

july2011-ojo

December 2015

july2011-ojo

November 2015

july2011-ojo

October 2015

july2011-ojo

September 2015

july2011-ojo

August 2015

july2011-ojo

July 2015

july2011-ojo

 

 

More....