Corrupting Language for Profit, Power, and Fun

By Nathan Barton

Do I want to see a “capitalist” economy “reestablished” in the Fifty States? Some recent on-line articles have discussed this.  But actually (warning: heresy alert!!!), no.  I don’t want to have a capitalist economy any more than I want to have a “liberal government” or be in a “church” or participate in a “democracy.”  Yes, there is a kind of capitalism that still exists (or can exist) that is not “crony” capitalism, or corporatism, but too many people lump them all together.  But I DO want to see a true free market (economy) established.  And I do believe that (if we have to endure ANY kind of government) that I would rather have one that is classically liberal – that is, a minarchist libertarian organization (if I HAVE to have one).  And no, I’ve not become an ungodly non-believer, but I am a member of an assembly, those called-out, an ekklesia and NOT a “kirk” or meetinghouse.

All of these are examples of the wonders of English:  our language changes.  Constantly: daily, monthly, drastically.  Unlike, say, Polish, which (I’m told) in 1500 sounded and read much the same as in 2000, most of us have an extremely tough time reading the English written in 1500 and I suspect we’d not even be able to  understand it unless spoken VERY slowly.  Words don’t mean the same today as they did five years or fifty years ago.

Technology and culture are two reasons.  But there is a third:  the debasement of language.  Politicians, criminals (but I repeat myself), entertainers, activists all grab and destroy the meaning of words.  Liberal and conservative meant a VERY different thing in the UK (or US) in 1800 or 1900 than they do today.  The Roman Catholic Church and its Protestant daughters/rivals destroyed the meaning of many words in English, Latin, and other languages.  One of those are the various English words into which the Greek word ‘ekklesia” (assembly, or called-out) is translated, but there are more: bishop, pastor, baptism, repentance (penance), grace, and mercy.  We have seen it happen with “marriage” in just twenty years.  We are seeing it with many other words.  Government (and those who love government) are to blame for much of this.

It isn’t new, and recognizing it is not new, either.  The novel 1984 had this as a major theme.  War = Peace. “Freedom = Slavery” and so forth.  And actually, it goes way back:  King James the First of the United Kingdom ordered the men translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English (producing the “Authorized” or “King James” Version) that certain words in Greek be translated into specific English words regardless of context or best fit:  one was that “ekklesia” and another was the Greek word “baptizo” which correctly should be translated into “immerse” or “dip” and NOT to the English word “baptize” (which is really only an anglization of the Greek word).  Those in power ALWAYS seek to redefine language, because by doing so they dictate the conversation and warp the minds of those whom they seek to control, and therefore maintain/increase their control, their power.

What can we do? One way of working around this change in language (whether pushed by the state or not) is to replace corrupted words with newly-coined words.  Thus we have classical liberalism now called libertarianism (further specified as minarchism).  People of my own faith have responded to the long-time misuse of the words pastor and bishop by instead using the term “elder” to describe the men leading a congregation. It is also the reason (based on claims of so many bogus claimants) that many of us use terms like self-governor or lover-of-liberty to describe ourselves politically.

Thus we come full circle: I don’t want modern capitalism in the Fifty States.  What I want and NEED is a free market, in which we have no government interference in the right of people to engage in voluntary commerce with one another, and disputes between businesses (and businesses and consumers) are resolved in honest, independent courts.  We don’t want liberal government: minarchists want “libertarian” government which exists to protect the liberties and freedom of the people, and anarchists (free-market anarchists, not the nihilist type – another bad example of corrupted words) do not want any kind of government except self-government and maybe voluntary government.


Speaking of language…

Hmm.  We have seen the revival of one of the most irrelevant and worthless controversies of the past century:  the screaming about the privately-owned, professional football team called the Washington Redskins.  The latest is the unlawful and tyrannical decision by the US Patent Office to cancel trademarks as “disparaging” when many – if not MOST – AmerIndians (enrolled and not) find no problem with the name, or at least think the owners have the right to use it even if they find it offensive.  (Exactly how is naming something to honor someone “disparaging?”)  And I surely do NOT condone a Federal agency stealing someone’s property.  Of course, the Redskins have a couple of things going for them: first, rights of ownership of trademarks are protected better by common law than by the pitiful and disgusting excuse for “federal law” that we have today.  And second, if this name and associated symbolism is so utterly evil and hideous, then surely anyone stupid enough to try and infringe on the trademark will be torn limb from limb by friends of “Native Americans” and activists for their “rights.”  But just imagine if this stupidity stands?

Oh, do you know what “Oklahoma” means in the original Choctaw?  Shucks, it translates to English as “Red Man.”  Now, today, since Red Man (or Redman) is just as slighting, derogatory, biased, racist and just plain crude as Redskins, I think that they ought to be forced to change the name.  A recent caller on a talk show suggested “North Texas.”  (Which really confuses all the airheads in the Dalworthington (Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington) Metroplex, which is usually labeled as “North Texas” (No, Amarillo is in the Panhandle, not North Texas, even though it is further north than the Dalworthington region.)

The once brave and free American people have, over the last half-century or so, torn down, or have allowed to be torn down, all kinds of things that were once an integral part of the land’s culture and folkways, and actual geography.  More of it disappears each year as someone finds another way to be offended, either from the choice of words or just because you are doing something that someone does not want you to do.

Mama’s Note: It is just so hard to get many folks to understand the absurdity of demanding a bogus “right” not to be offended, or having hurt feelings. It all goes with the refusal of people to take personal responsibility for their own feelings, choices and actions, of course. Just another way of enslaving others.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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2 Responses to Corrupting Language for Profit, Power, and Fun

  1. Bear says:

    Trademarks: If you haven’t seen my web site lately, I have my own response to the Redskins trademark cancellation. (And I’m still expecting to hear from lawyers.) [grin]

    Capitalism: [pedantic mode on] Speaking of corrupting language… What you’re calling “capitalism” and objecting to is much better tagged as “mercantilism”. Strictly speaking, capitalism is freemarket. People tend to forget that because America hasn’t actually had freemarket/capitalism since at least 1788. [pedantic mode off]

    Language: It used to be a common theme in science fiction that language would “freeze” and essentially stop changing with the invention and widespread adoption of audiovisual recording devices; the theory being that we’d have a permanent reference baseline. I always thought that was pretty stupid, since even as a little kid I was quite aware of the tendency of each new generation and subgeneration to make up their own slang which often moves into common use. Add in new language for new inventions, subtract language for stuff that falls out of use (show of hands: how many readers know “fire drill” as a gadget rather than an exercise?)… and language changes.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Ok, I’ll bite… never heard of “fire drill” as anything but an “exercise” (in futility) at “school.”

      As for language, oh yeah. As a writer and editor, I’m always challenged to find a compromise between what is considered precise and “proper” English, and the reality of ongoing changes in what people actually use and understand. It seems to me that the growing tendency to do everything with video and other oral recording, moving away from the text or printed word, makes the challenge even more difficult since people do not generally speak as precisely as they write, even when they write very well. I did an impromptu interview for the video “Guns and Weed” a few years ago, and wish I’d had a chance to work up some sort of script. It is difficult to speak in complete sentences or any organized fashion “off the cuff.” Even politicians don’t do a good job of it, of course.


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