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February 10, 2018

Thread before the Gardening Thread: The Wisdom of Humpty Dumpty [KT]

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

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Which came first, Humpty Dumpty or the Egg?

Happy Saturday! There sure been a lot of news here in the USA this week. In the midst of all of it, did you catch the little kerfuffle about Justin Trudeau mansplaining to a woman at a townhall?

He later claimed he was joking, and I saw at least one plausible apology on Twitter from a woman who had jumped on his statement. But then there's this commentary from Montreal:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he was just kidding when, on a recent "town-hall" stop in his permanent election campaign, he coined the word "peoplekind" as a gender-neutral replacement for "mankind."

It's a plausible explanation, if not entirely convincing to people who didn't get the joke because it fits in nicely with a certain image of Trudeau as a virtue-signalling male feminist. If it was a joke, it was self-parody.

The problem, however, is not only recognizing when it's Trudeau's tongue in his cheek and not his foot in his mouth. It's also understanding what he means when he's not joking.

Oregon Muse found a doozy of a statement this week, regarding Isis fighters returning to Canada.

Think Trudeau was joking?

But Trudeau aside, Jonathan over at Chicago Boyz apparently remembered a little piece on the word, "mankind" by Theodore Dalrymple in which he objects to his words being changed without his permission:


. . . censorship by language reform is not a matter of logic, it is a matter of power. As Humpty Dumpty said, it is a question of who is to be master (if one may still be allowed the word), that's all.

Dalrymple has been resisting this gradual tyranny in his own way:

I cannot say my role in resisting this tiny tyranny has been or is an heroic one. On the contrary: I now simply avoid the use of certain ways of putting things so that the question does not arise. I do not want to have a blazing argument with editors or sub-editors each time I use the word "Mankind" and it is changed without my permission, nor do I not want to stop writing altogether; and the matter, after all, is a very small one. How petty one would look to argue about it, how foolish to cut one's nose off to spite one's face if one refused to write any more because of it!

And so the censors have achieved a small victory. They will seek out new locutions to conquer.

Dalrymple also notes other forms of censorship, such as the imposition of the impersonal "she". Have you noticed any other such changes in language? Can you imagine future ones?

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:11 AM

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