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Jul 7, 2007

In the run up to big Show 50, we're taking a look at the words we use every day, and what's happening to them. What is the process that takes certain words and transforms their meanings, or bores them out entirely? Is this a positive and natural occurrence, or is it a byproduct of a society that is losing the worth of words?

Opening Music: "Fire In The Sky" by Dave London
Closing Music: "ET" by Peplab


over twelve years ago

I waited and, O my brothers, I got a lot better munching away at eggiwegs, and lomticks of toast and lovely chicken with creamy peas that warmed me guttiwucks, and then, one day, they said I was going to have a very special visitor.

Futuristic varieties of English
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE - Anthony Burgess (1962)
HELLFLOWER - eluki bes shahar
THE INHERITORS - William Golding (1955)
THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS - Robert Heinlein (1966)
RIDDLEY WALKER - Russel Hoban (1980)
1984 - George Orwell (1948)
Terraplane – Jack Womack (1987)

Illusive Mind
over twelve years ago

To once again quote that speaker of verisimilitude, George Carlin:

I don\\\'t like words that hide the truth. I don\\\'t like words that conceal reality. I don\\\'t like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I\\\'ll give you an example of that.

There\\\'s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It\\\'s when a fighting person\\\'s nervous system has been stressed to it\\\'s absolute peak and maximum. Can\\\'t take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap.

In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn\\\'t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It\\\'s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it\\\'s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we\\\'ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

I\\\'ll bet you if we\\\'d of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I\\\'ll betcha. I\\\'ll betcha.

Illusive Mind
over twelve years ago

Even \\\'sniper\\\' has a too negative connotation, they\\\'re \\\'sharp shooters\\\'.

over twelve years ago

How about instead of \\\"sniper\\\", a \\\"lead archer.\\\" Its funny how easily stuff can be renamed. A backpack could then be called a \\\"mass displacer relocater\\\".