Any given society depends on several precepts to allow for it to properly function. These precepts include a standardized method of counting, a common language to allow for coherent communication and an agreed upon definition of commonly used words and phrases. Without these core elements, society couldn’t function. In fact, there would be little reason for me to write these words in this blog as few could understand what I was saying.
Were I to say to the reading audience “Vanligtvis ska man förtjäna ett toppbetyg som AAA med fenomenal kreditvärdighet – nästintill omöjligt att ifrågasätta” – unless you were somewhat fluent in Swedish you’d probably have a tough time understanding the information I’m trying to convey. (BTW, the sentence above is the lead in a story in a Swedish newspaper about the US and the likelihood it will lose it’s AAA credit rating; translation “Usually you should earn a top score as AAA with phenomenal creditworthiness — almost impossible to challenge.”)
We depend on this commonality of language to guide us in our interactions with each other in business, social settings, education and political discourse. So what happens if someone purposely misuses a word or phrase in order to gain an advantage or mislead others? Most Americans look upon such devious behavior as unacceptable and anyone doing such as devious. So how is it that many of our so-called leaders in Washington DC use such underhandedness with impunity?
Let’s take the word investment. Dictionary.com provides this:
noun1. the investing of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.2. a particular instance or mode of investing.3. a thing invested in, as a business, a quantity of shares of stock, etc.
Given the common definition, tell me how would the government go about “investing” in something? The phrase “investing in our future” is often heard from that big white house over on Pennsylvania Avenue. Please describe for me the expected return on “investing in our future.” An individual as not only capable of, but encouraged to “invest in his future,” or that of his family, but how does a society invest in a way to insure some reasonable prospect of a return? Before you go there, I don’t call building bridges and roads and airports investments. Those are capital projects that are expected by society from its government. The citizens will determine if a particular project was a wise use of their taxes … or not.
I normally wouldn’t have a problem with someone attempting to make statements that make some proposal sound a bit rosier; we all do it. But when the word “spending” is consistently replaced by the word “investing” it becomes problematic.
George Orwell, in his prophetic book “1984” introduced what he called Newspeak as the vocabulary of that abhorrent society. Terms such as doublethink, vaporized, unpersons and so on replaced “bad” words. For example, if you have the word “good” then you do not need another word, “bad” to express its opposite- “ungood” will do the job. And you don’t need words like Excellent or Splendid; instead you can say “plusgood” or “doubleplusgood”.
Our government and adherents on the Left are developing their own Newspeak, but using words that have a traditional meaning of long ancestry. However, the Newspeak version often , though not always, is the direct opposite that older meaning. I provide here an entry level list with the Newspeak word and the meaning it now carries from a Leftist or Liberal perspective:
- Adult = anyone from my party and no one from the opposition
- Balanced = a deal containing all the provisions my party demands and includes none of the opposition’s positions
- Compromise = the opposition giving in to all of my demands
- Earmarks = pork spending directed towards buying votes from constituents
- Extremest = typical voter from the opposition party
- Extortion = the opposition party’s request for a “compromise” that doesn’t adhere to your position
- Fair = a euphemism for getting my way
- Fees = taxes disguised as a cost for some service
- Greedy = the preconcerted emotion attributed to anyone who thinks they pay to much in taxes
- Investment = spending taxpayers money in furtherance of your agenda
- Justice = a reason or justification for coercion when preceded by or used in conjunction with an adjective such as social, civil, economic, etc.
- Militant = someone of the Muslim faith that carries out terror attacks against unarmed civilians (see Terrorist)
- Primary Education = the organized state indoctrination of children
- Racist = an epithet directed towards anyone that disagrees with your position
- Revenue = new confiscatory taxes
- Revenue expense = tax cut
- Secondary Education = the organized state indoctrination of teenagers and young adults
- Terrorist = an epithet directed towards Tea Party adherents (see Racist, see Militant)
- Youths = Young Muslims marauding around Paris while burning Peugeots
I’m sure I’ve missed many words and terms that you’ve heard. Use the comments below or Twitter me at @alpipkin and let me know those I need to add. Maybe together we could create the New American Newspeak Dictionary so that we may all gain a better understanding of our society.