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February 26, 2009

It’s 1984 All Over Again

1984 My ninth-grade English teacher assigned George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984. Call me lily-livered, but the book scared me stiff.

Shenanigans like the one that Paul Nelson is exposing bring back the same horror I felt while reading that book. The big difference is that this time it isn't a novel.

(Image © Penguin)

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This is fascinating, Kim - thanks!!

If I'd had English professors like Diane, I'd know more about the association between restrictions on language and the abuse of power. As it is, I just recognize that they seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.

What's really intriguing is that evolutionary biologists would feel the need to assert power over others via language modification. (insert tongue in cheek) One would think that the reality of evolution being driven entirely by chance is so blindingly obvious that no linguistic manipulation of even the lumpenproles would be needed. (remove tong- nah, leave it in)


Kim's example happens to involve the never ending topic of origins, but the calculated and/or inadvertant "abuse of language" is a problem that shows up everywhere. Whether done by ideological opponents, the government or "Madison Avenue", calculated manipulation via words is as reprehensible as it is common. However, the careless use of language may actually cause more damage. The overuse of words such as "hero" and "crisis", for instance, make it more difficult to actually discriminate and communicate about different behaviors and different events. (I just read an article that predicted that predicted millions of people would have to "flee" coastal cities - because global warming would raise sea levels over the rest of the century! I'm not sure if the writer was being manipulative or careless, but careless readers are nudged in particular directions by such words.) It is disheartening to have a conversation with someone, and, upon seeking clarification about the intent of a word, get the response, "well, you know what I mean". Well - no, I don't, or I wouldn't have asked for clarification! I sometimes wonder if the careless use of language is simple laziness, or the result of a lack of interest in truly connecting with other people.

Kim Moreland

David, you're absolutely correct. Language is important and a lot of cleaver but fiendish people know it.
I vow to always ask for clarification.

In an aside, like Gina's Friday movie or book posts, should we start a regular "abuse of language" post?

Cheers, Kim

Steve (SBK)

Kim said,
"Language is important and a lot of *cleaver* but fiendish people know it."

Truly, language can cause great... division.

The Word of God "divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow"

Jesus once said, (paraphrase),
I come not to bring peace, but to bring a cleaver.


Rolley Haggard

Gee, Wally, I know just the Cleaver of whom He spoke.

Has to be, because the person’s name is Theodore, and Theodore is Greek for "gift of God".

Hint -- His nickname in Greek is Kastor.

(Not that it mathers that much).

Final clue for the irretrievably trivia-challenged -- http://usera.ImageCave.com/wwwuuwuu/mathers.jpg


Post Script – The aforementioned is not to be confused with Eucladoceros Kastor -- http://usera.ImageCave.com/wwwuuwuu/antleaver.jpg

(Don’t even ask).

Ah, language. Well, Kim, there’s your first entry for that new post. But credit/blame where due -- this wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for that agent provocateur, SBK.


I like the idea of an "abuse of language" post, but only if it will be taken seriously. At the risk of being perceived as peevish, or too rigid, or possessing of some other character flaw, I must say that I am sometimes frustrated by the amount of "cleverness" on display here. I visit The Point in search of wisdom, or at least useful and/or interesting insights. Cleverness is not too far from careless, in that both send a message to the effect that "what you are concerned about is not important to me".

Kim Moreland

Ooops--a slip of the keyboard.

Cleaver, clever.... I once got roasted for writing snake instead of snack.

I really need spell check along with a program which annouces... "Kim, You're not being clever because you've just used your keyboard as a cleaver to..."

I'll leave writing poetry about blunders to Rolley.

Kim Moreland


The abuse of language is a serious topic, and will be treated as such.

Once in a while, though, people do have fun because it lightens what could become a very heavy blog-o-sphere.

I can't wait to start this new line!

Cheers, Kim


Agreed, Kim. As with many things, keeping balance is important. Cheers indeed.

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