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October 12, 2012

Politics And Language - Then And Now

Politics is central to human history and culture. As I write this, the United Sates (and many observers around the world) are...

...in a state of near frenzy.

The presidential candidates (and many others) are making all kinds of statements - some almost true, some clearly distorted and some just plain ridiculous and paranoid.

But, for better or worse, there is nothing new here.

In fact there is much - preposterous and profound - that just might amuse, enlighten or equip us for the future.

Here are just a few pungent and provoking quotes from across history:

"Politics, noun. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." —Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

"The Democrats are the party of government activism, the party that says government can make you richer, smarter, taller, and get the chickweed out of your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it." —P.J. O'Rourke, Parliament of Whores

And although you might think it was Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart, it was really Will Rogers many, many years ago who wrote "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."

One reasonable question that you might ask is; what does this have to do with teaching and learning English?

Besides the obvious cultural, linguistic and historic baggage wrapped around terms, idioms and individual words, there is an ever shifting context and reframing of political terms and slogans. For example, the word 'malarkey' has taken on a renewed energy. There is no telling what words, slogans or new meaning will emerge in this - and future - political campaigns.

Let us know what terms puzzle you or send us any questions.

Here is a perfect opportunity to see how words are used to persuade, inform, misinform and confuse.

Follow the arguments and the debates for an education on how language is really used.

Best to everyone!


And if you want to contact me, you can email me at; mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at October 12, 2012 10:54 PM


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