Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Language Games

Wittgenstein once remarked that "philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." I've discovered that this concept actually applies to life itself rather than just philosophy. Every day is a continuous onslaught from different sources who either choose to ignore the definitions of words or simply change the definitions altogether. These days, people use the word "defense" as another word for invasion. And "freedom" to mean slavery. Or vice versa. George Owell wrote about this as well. And I find it interesting that the very sources that employ Newspeak to confound the audience offer commentary on it at the same time. It's a wonder any real communication takes place at all. When words cease to have meanings, then all that is left is speaking nonsense.

I was brooding on these things yesterday, which was Memorial Day here in the USA, a day for "remerbering those who died defending our country." Fair enough, I thought. But when was the last time "our country" was actually under attack? And how does invading defenseless countries qualify as "defending?" How does a random sample of 200 people translate into the the whole of the "American People" as polls claim?

Maybe I'm just taking all this shit too seriously. What do you think? Is this weirdness limited to English? Or does it occur in other languages as well like Icelandic or Russian? Or Hungarian for that matter?


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