Re: Corruption of Language

Subject: Re: Corruption of Language
From: Paula Steinhart <psteinha -at- CYMBAL -dot- AIX -dot- CALPOLY -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 11 May 1994 20:45:53 -0700

mrs. mcglashin, in my 8th grade english, said it is and there are (is)
are passive structures. if she siad so, it's got to be.

seriously, i do believe we corrupt through language. so many sununus
manipulate the passive for their personal goals--the trend is away
from the personal (i did so and so) to a vague, unidentified 3rd
person. i feel strongly that tech writing needs to involce more 1st
involvement. what say you? paula

On Wed, 11 May 1994, Dan Dieterich wrote:

> Paula,
> "There" (as in "There are three things to do.") is an expletive; it
> means nothing. "There is" is not passive voice, but it is generally a waste of
> time to write those sorts of sentence openers.

> You write that when we "accept 'some mistakes were made.' we're really
> accepting a corruption of the language i think." Language can't be corrupted
> (despite what Lao Tzu said). If it could, we'd be sending all our dangling
> participles to homes for wayward words. People, on the other hand, can be
> corrupted. And people often use language to accomplish that feat.

> Outlawing "am/is/are/was/were/be/being/been" or any other "bad words"
> that come to mind (e.g., obscenity, scatology, profanity) won't stop people
> from corrupting other people. If John Sununu couldn't use the passive voice,
> he would NOT suddenly become Mary Poppins. Those who wish to deceive will find
> ways to do so. Educating people about how people use language to manipulate
> others accomplishes far more than attempting to get rid of "bad words." I'm
> fascinated by the work of general semanticists (E-Prime speakers as well as
> non-) because they help us better understand how people use language to
> influence the way others think and feel. It's useful to learn that . . . and
> to help our children learn it too.

> - Dan
> ddieteri -at- uwspmail -dot- uwsp -dot- edu

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