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30.3.17

The War On Words

Perhaps you've never really thought about this, but why is language so important?

There's a lot of noise lately about gender pronouns.  The Swedes added a new gender-less third-person singular pronoun a while back.  The German language has had three genders for centuries.  So has Russian.  Indonesian has a gender-less third-person singular that likely stems from Sanskrit roots.  So what's the big deal?

English has four third-person singular pronouns, two of which are gender-neutral: he, she, it and one.  He, she and one are primarily used for humans, while it can be used for just about anything.  Consider the couple who has just found out they are pregnant.  Folks commonly ask (these days), "Do you know what IT is yet?"

Gender is an exclusively linguistic construct.  Except for a tiny fraction of one percent of the global population, humans come in two sexes: male and female.  We are all genetically XX or XY, with a smattering of folks having XXY or XYY, and the latter two usually suffer medical issues all their lives.  Therefore, "he" and "she" accurately designate the sex of 99.99% of the world's population, and a million dollars' worth of surgery cannot change one's sex.

The stupid part of the whole pronoun argument is not that English (and many other languages) already have gender-neutral pronouns, it's that most humans do not address people in the third-person.  In English, we always address someone as "you", which is appropriate for both formal and informal, as well as male or female.  All of the plural pronouns are gender-neutral, so the point is moot in those cases.  Of course, "I" is the pronoun of self and is appropriate for any gender, sex, race, orientation, or whatever.

Apparently, in all the socio-political bullshit being spread over the pronoun argument, folks have forgotten about "one", which is a very old and gender-neutral pronoun in the English language that is often used in formal conditionals, but could easily be adopted for common language.  It doesn't have the baggage of "it" and even carries a certain formal connotation, thus offering a fine alternative to "he" or "she".  The Irish commonly use "your one" to refer to a singular third person.

So, what is this pronoun dust-up really all about?  Answer: cutting the culture off from its roots.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell made a point of noting the State's efforts to reduce the NewSpeak dictionary down to the most basic vocabulary.  The theory was that if people don't have a word for something, they can't think about it, nor can they convey it to others via speech or text.

This, in a nutshell, is what the pronoun war is all about.  It is one of several efforts to eradicate vocabulary from the language.  As the vocabulary contracts, it becomes harder and harder to access literature.  Within a generation or two, one is unable to make sense of books that are even a century old.  As the effort progresses, they are unable to understand books written even decades ago.

Take a look at this passage from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales:
      Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5 Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne...
I doubt many native speakers of English could read most of this, much less speak it accurately, and the language is just 600 years old.  The inability of modern English speakers to read the text is not part of a concerted effort by the Powers That Be to cut off our culture, it is just the natural evolution of language.

Now try Beowulf or Shakespeare in the original language.

Today, folks can barely understand the language of the US Constitution, which is only 200 and some years old, because the sentence structure is beyond the capabilities of most "schooled" readers (I purposely chose "schooled" over "educated").

Under a full onslaught of "language police", how long would it be before we could no longer read last year's New York Times?  How long before the vast majority of people could no longer access information reserved only for the highest levels of society?  Isn't that already happening?

Listen to "Man On The Street" interviews on any given outlet.  Decide for yourself if the vast majority of folks even know about Chaucer, much less have read or even less understood Chaucer, especially in the original texts.  These folks couldn't even compose a thought that included an idea from Canterbury Tales.

Orwell was right.

The effort to change and edit language is not about people's feelings.  Who really cares what a tranny in Berkeley wants to be called?  The point is to cut off access to the masses of vocabulary, grammar and ideas by making history and literature unintelligible to the hordes.

If you don't know something exists, you will likely never look for it.  And if you stumble upon it by accident, you would never be able to comprehend it.  You wouldn't have the tools to even begin to decipher the thoughts contained in the text.

The Catholic Church did this for millennia by printing the Bible in Latin and saying the mass in Latin.  Unless you were highly educated, you had no idea what was contained in those words.  Even more to the point, the church hierarchy could tell you it meant anything they wanted, and you would have no way of challenging them.

The "language police" are not about sparing the feelings of a few, they are about cutting off the many from the vast reservoirs of human experience.  Without literature, the past only exists for a lifetime, and then it dies.  Without language, the past will cease to exist and the State will be everything that is.

If you want to save your culture, and by extension humanity, the only things you need to teach your children and grandchildren are the Trivium and a love of literature.

They are the best and only true weapons we have against Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism.

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