ORANGE

My granddaughter Phoenix delights in using the word “orange”. “Orange” rolls around her tongue like a thunderstorm. Her vocabulary is that of a two year old, but already she sees the magic of conjuring. Language is a tool. Language is a magical implement for taking your thoughts out of your brain and expressing them to someone else. This is not easy task, it requires precision, and a vocabulary to match the depths of your thoughts and feelings.

In the present day, this desire for detail and accuracy of expression, is gradually being eroded by the misuse of language and punctuation. I have been told, by a reliable source, that the younger generation are offended by the use of a full stop. Apparently generation z, find full stops intimidating, as they are interpreted as a sign of anger in text messaging. They have come to recognise punctuation as weird, mean, or too blunt, and that rather than use full stops in messaging, they would rather send separate messages rather than include them in a message.

In truth, the use of English has never been embalmed in ritual and tradition, as say the French language, which is set in stone by the Académie Française… whereas a similar language stricture by the establishment in England has been rebutted by the people. For example, English writers and users continue to split infinitives no matter what the Language Fascists would have us practise… we boldly go on splitting with impunity. I rejoice in this iconoclasm which is innate in the English; I rejoice in the way we appropriate words from other languages like magpies; I rejoice in the fact that we will mould the language and grammar like potters to suit our needs; however, this very freedom can have it’s downside.

This freedom allows the totally vacuous use of ‘So’ to start every sentence. Every quiz show participant describes themselves thus:

“So…. I’m a bricklayer from Frodsham…”

I hate it ! It’s just so fucking lazy! It’s an imported space saver, a replacement for the former ubiquitous use of er, in the spoken language. This is perhaps more acceptable in the spoken language, for one needs a space saver whilst one’s thoughts are marshalled…

But in the written language precision always equates with clarity, so

the use of portmanteau words such as “brexit” does nothing to make the idea any more clear. “Brexit” is newspeak, and in Orwell’s words is specifically designed to ‘diminish the range of thought’, and follows the twenty year shift from metaphor to metanym.

Metaphors and similes have the facility to enrich the language, by making oblique reference to something else they can highlight an aspect of that thing which may not have been obvious before.

A metonym (a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing is not called by it’s own name but by a name which describes all aspects of that thing) for example, the use of Crown describe all aspects of state.

This device actually shuts down the use of language. It does nothing to enrich the language but rather creates a nebulous cloud of meaning, and hides a multitude of sins.

The use of the “Brexit” metonym essentially ensured that the vote to leave the EU was guaranteed! Because once this metonym was accepted by the media it meant that supporters of leave did not have to explain their argument, they could just say the word Brexit and people would paste their own views on top of this catch all flag.

So what am I saying here? Just use the language with care or you will lose the ability to give words to your feelings.