BOOK REVIEW: “Talk on the Wild Side” by Lane Greene shows how language is power

Lane Greene’s Talk on the Wild Side: Why Language Can’t Be Tamed came across, in its initial reading, as a scattershot collection of topics relating vaguely to the way the pronunciations, words, and grammars of languages will change with time so long as those languages continue to live and have people speak them. What makes the book really special, though, is the deeper theme: despite some people’s best efforts to pretend otherwise, decentralized changes are not just acceptable but inherent to language.

A Southern-born American journalist now living in London, the polyglottic Greene likewise moves through his topics with a comfortable, intelligible style, connecting otherwise disparate elements with threads that follow easily and ultimately tie together in a way that is truly something special.

What I’m not fully convinced of is whether this was intentional or something emergent from the subject itself.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: “Talk on the Wild Side” by Lane Greene shows how language is power”

The changing connotations of words isn’t a small issue

MANY HUMANS SAID

‘This is ridiculous’. As well as a plethora of other boorish things.

I don’t understand what this person is doing wrong here. The question is a valid one: if you are trying not to be a jerk inadvertently, does it matter if a word that sounds offensive has an etymology that isn’t?

In the real world, racists use nigg* words regularly to express and signal their racism, from otherwise made-up terms to ones like niggardly, chosen solely because of its resemblance to the slur.

Continue reading “The changing connotations of words isn’t a small issue”

The art of communication is an imperfect science

The other day, I was talking to a friend and we were arguing a bit about communication.

Now (and you may already know this), professional communicators have a tendency to do a very poor job communicating in their personal lives.

But we were doing pretty well, he and I, or at least I thought so, and the gist of what he was saying was this:

“Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had inherent telepathy – not reading minds, but, like, being able to send a thought completely and be understood completely,” he said.

Continue reading “The art of communication is an imperfect science”

The cartoon virus makes the world a more colorful place

The other day, I realized I probably enjoy Facebook a little too much, or at least for the wrong reasons. The social network super giant makes it almost too easy to creep — or rather keep up with everyone you kinda sorta met one time. Or might someday.

But Facebook is a lovely thing, as much as it is a monster.

Continue reading “The cartoon virus makes the world a more colorful place”