On Words: Word Power!


I love words. Hey, I’m a writer: if I didn’t love words, I’d be a censor, a redactor of government documents who gets his kicks from defacing them.

I love the truth in words. If I didn’t, I’d be a politician or still working in marketing.

Sounds shaped into words are the basics of spoken language. The purpose of language is communication. (Okay, Groot in “Guardians of the Galaxy” communicates with a single word, his name, its specific meaning conveyed by varying emphasis. Special case. He’s a fictional plant. Forget about it.)

Words change their meaning over time. Sometimes an old word gets repurposed. Newly arrived immigrants twist the meanings of existing words or approximate in their struggle to communicate in a new language. (I’m talking French, Germans, Scandinavians, etc. in the USA, Vikings in England, etc…)

Of course, the younger generation just talks crap to confuse and irritate the older folk. (I have news for you, kids. One day, you’ll be confused and irritated by the way your grandkids speak. That’s me getting the last laugh in while I’m still around to voice it.)

Today, I’m addressing Word Power! and Untruth

I choose an example well-removed from current accusations about ‘Fake News’, ‘Brexiteer/Remainer’ lies, etc, to avoid alienating half my readership. (How politic of me!)

In 1985, British Labour Party politician, Neil Kinnock, famously declared he was the first in his family for “a THOUSAND generations” to attend university. “Were they all THICK?” he demanded from the podium.

It was a great, inspiring soundbite. A thousand generations of discrimination? Wow! It encapsulated his message about longstanding inequality of opportunity. I was swept away by it. Briefly.

Briefly.

I studied Politics for my degree and have ever since been amused at politicians’ posturing antics. My caution ramps up whenever any politician’s lips start to move.

Also, I am a polymath. I love analytical thinking and facts as well as creative wordsmithing. Facts are truth and fiction is not. Spot the difference? (Yes, there can be truth in fiction. Special case. That’s quality fiction. Forget about it.)

I knew an average ‘generation gap’ is 25 years in recent centuries, rising from 20 years when humans mated younger. (They didn’t have long enough life spans to be 40-year-old virgins.) That places Mr. Kinnock’s ‘thousandth generation’ hunter-gatherer ancestor wandering the forests over 20,000 years ago. The first University in what is now Britain was established in Oxford sometime prior to 1167. So… perhaps they didn’t attend Uni because… err, there weren’t any?

He would have been more accurate saying, “No Kinnock in just a bit over 800 years…”, or, “No Kinnock for about thirty-three generations…”.

Hmm… Those accurate versions do lack the punch of ‘a thousand generations‘. (But his degree was in industrial relations and history; he really should have known his dates better).

So a politician knowingly distorted reality (and truth) for polemical effect. Histrionics or hyperbole? So what’s new?

He was a politician. He conveyed his political message and it was technically true. He communicated. He inspired. But he implicitly applied massively exaggerated damage to the British class system and the wealthy, rather than to historical unavailability. Exaggeration and finger-pointing to arouse passions and hostility.

Naughty, Mr. Kinnock.

Politicians, eh? Who’d have thought it?

Whichever words you hear or read, if they are generated to raise passions for ANY political cause, do think twice and filter.


 

One comment on “On Words: Word Power!

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