Day By Day

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's All In the Interpretation

Harvey Silverglate argues that the current corruption of language that obscures rather than reveals meaning accords enormous power to those who interpret meaning to their ends.

He writes:
The respective cultures of the college campus and of the federal government have each thrived on the notion that language is meant not to express one's true thoughts, intentions and expectations, but, instead, to cover them up. As a result, the tyrannies that I began to encounter in the mid-1980s in both academia and the federal criminal courts shared this major characteristic: It was impossible to know when one was transgressing the rules, because the rules were suddenly being expressed in language that no one could understand. In his 1946 linguistic critique, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell wrote that one must "let meaning choose the word, not the other way around." By largely ignoring this truism, administrators and legislators who craft imprecise regulations have given their particular enforcement arms---campus disciplinary staff and federal government prosecutors---enormous and grotesquely unfair power.
This is an important issue for our time. Read the article [here] and be informed

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