December 1, 2005 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Orwell: Politics and the English Language. Some timely links in the fast changing world of instant communication. Alistair Cooke Needles the Jargonauts in Assessing the State of the English Language. The Electronic Revolution by William S. Burroughs. On Wittgenstein's Concept of a Language Game. The Economist Looking for a sign. John Zerzan Language: Origin and Meaning. Hakim Bey: Aimless Wandering: Chuang Tzu's Chaos Linguistics also Chaos Linguistics. The Language of Animals. John C Lilly on Interspecies Communication. Language Log: Natural language and artificial intelligence. Natural Language Processing AI News.
posted by MetaMonkey (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I really like this post. Lots of interesting links. Thanks.
posted by meh at 1:11 PM on December 1, 2005

I'll 2nd that! Lots more reading to do today.
posted by dangerousdan at 1:17 PM on December 1, 2005

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

posted by delmoi at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2005

Cool. Damn cool. Thanks
posted by Smedleyman at 1:24 PM on December 1, 2005

Nice. Thanks MM!
posted by vacapinta at 1:32 PM on December 1, 2005

I loved the Language Games article.

So, are the current supposed downfalls of meaning, truth and possibly democracy all because we've failed at following the rules of the language game, bastardising communication and clarity and living in garbled GW Bush consequences? Should we be calling out the media and start "asking how our language games are taught and how they are used"?

Now where did I put that packet of mustard.
posted by furtive at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2005

That Economist article is quite interesting. Thanks.
posted by languagehat at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2005

I don't know if it actually works or not, but I love Burroughs's idea of playing concealed recordings of riot sounds in public spaces in order to spark a real riot then and there.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2005

Great. Now I have to take a 2-hour flight so I can read all this stuff I just PDF'd to my laptop.

Thannks, MetaMonkey!

Oh, and "language is a virus from outer space."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:48 PM on December 1, 2005

I should have included a link to languagehat's website. Thats some good language action.
posted by MetaMonkey at 1:56 PM on December 1, 2005

@ Furtive
"We do not torture". /derail
posted by dangerousdan at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2005

awsome. thanks.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:16 PM on December 1, 2005

heh....bad editing in the language thread.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:16 PM on December 1, 2005

been meaning to read Wittgenstein for a while. thanks for the reminder
posted by jcruelty at 2:22 PM on December 1, 2005

Don Watson's Death Sentence* is an excellent book in a similar vein to Orwell's essay, on the declining state of the english language. Highly recommended.

* curiously, the title got pluralised in translation to the USA.
posted by wilful at 2:23 PM on December 1, 2005

weaselwords. Surprisingly it was initiated by a political speech writer who thought things had gone just a little too far.
posted by boofhead at 2:30 PM on December 1, 2005

I wish the authors of all texts relating to cultural studies that I had to read during college had read the Orwell article. I would have been spared many a headache caused by un-necessarily dense and obfuscated text making my brain bleed.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2005

Whoops weaselwords. A first and now second timer - forgive me.
posted by boofhead at 2:35 PM on December 1, 2005

Don't forget the various Politically Correct Dictionaries for an entertaining romp though non-communicative language.
posted by dangerousdan at 2:54 PM on December 1, 2005

(This is great.)
posted by bardic at 5:43 PM on December 1, 2005

This is so very Meta.......

posted by troutfishing at 10:44 PM on December 1, 2005

Groovy set of links. Thanks!
posted by dejah420 at 2:14 PM on December 2, 2005

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