Wednesday, December 06, 2006
In his essay "Politics and the English Language," Orwell said, "What is above all needed (in honest speaking) is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about."
During the two hours, I often heard references to "fetal demise." What they were actually talking about, some of us would say, is the killing of a human being.
I'm very strict about language not because I enjoy being a PITA, but because I fear the consequences of rampant linguistic relativism. Once you yield a sentence to someone that they shouldn't have had, they've won their point in the eyes and hearts of anyone who doesn't stop and think about the argument. Which is lots of people.
Of course, I do have a little saying to annoy people when they use the word "gender". "Gender is a characteristic of an inanimate object, like a noun. Sex is a characteristic of an animate being, like a squirrel. Adjectives have gender. People have sex."