Quote of the Day: Peggy Noonan on Language

 

The title of Peggy Noonan’s essay in last week’s Wall Street Journal was “What Were Robespierre’s Pronouns?” Two great paragraphs:

There is the latest speech guide from the academy, the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University. Don’t call people “American”, it directs; “This erases other cultures.” Don’t say a person is mad or a lunatic, call him “surprising/wild” or “sad”. “Eskimo”, “freshman” and “illegal alien” are out. “You guys” should be replaced by “all/folks”. Don’t say “male” or “female”, say “man”, “woman”, or “gender non-binary”.

In one way it’s the nonsense we’ve all grown used to, but it should be said that there’s an aspect of self-infatuation, of arrogance, in telling people they must reorder the common language to suit your ideological preferences. There is something mad in thinking you should control the names of things. Or perhaps I mean surprising/wild. [emphasis mine]

I am fighting back against the speech police and their insistence upon controlling our language. What are you doing?

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There are 35 comments.

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  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    RushBabe49: There is something mad in thinking you should control the names of things.

    Peggy’s use of the word “mad” here is the British “crazy” rather than the American “angry.” So why does any word “trigger” a leftist without the proper knowledge of the word’s meaning?


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are 7 days open on the August Signup Sheet. including Wednesday and Friday this week. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today! 

    • #1
    • August 18, 2019, at 4:41 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. The Reticulator Member

    Don’t say “trigger.” That sounds like gun violence, which makes it just as harmful as gun violence.

    • #2
    • August 18, 2019, at 5:09 AM PDT
    • 27 likes
  3. DonG Coolidge

    When are aggressive to me, I like to respond by asking them to define terms as they use them. This slows down any argument they are trying to make and allows me to suggest other terms (unusual words), which further removes the impact from their arguments. After all, once you get somebody changing their language, they have lost the argument.

    • #3
    • August 18, 2019, at 6:48 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I haven’t been asked specifically by anyone to change my use of language. If someone gave me that direction, I’d just say, “whatever” and walk away. I wouldn’t even bother to get angry.

    • #4
    • August 18, 2019, at 6:57 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  5. Front Seat Cat Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Don’t say “trigger.” That sounds like gun violence, which makes it just as harmful as gun violence.

    So the latest shooters in Dayton and El Paso were sad, surprised and wild? I’m curious if changing the meaning of common words, context etc. was part of the beginnings of the Nazi and Stalin regimes? It seems there is something sinister here, because the attempt crosses all boundaries and cultures. Weird beyond weird.

    • #5
    • August 18, 2019, at 7:56 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. Front Seat Cat Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I haven’t been asked specifically by anyone to change my use of language. If someone gave me that direction, I’d just say, “whatever” and walk away. I wouldn’t even bother to get angry.

    You get good advice from your manicurist. 

    • #6
    • August 18, 2019, at 7:56 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. RandR Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    from

    My immediate reaction would have likely been ” Do you want to talk to me or not?” , but your way is much better as it does not waste my breath or time.

    • #7
    • August 18, 2019, at 7:59 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor

    RandR (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    from

    My immediate reaction would have likely been ” Do you want to talk to me or not?” , but your way is much better as it does not waste my breath or time.

    @randr and @frontseatcat, the expectation, from my perspective, is fascistic. RandR, your approach at least leaves a door open for the person to switch gears, so that might be a better approach. If she won’t switch, then I’m gone. I guess I’m just not patient enough to give the person an opportunity to act like a reasonable human being. The advice from my manicurist hasn’t taken!

    • #8
    • August 18, 2019, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  9. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49 Post author

    Coerced changing of the language is the first step on the road to thoughtcrime.

    • #9
    • August 18, 2019, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 20 likes
  10. Jules PA Member

    I’m from a family of 8 girls and 1 boy, I’ve spent my life saying, “You guys.” I don’t think I can stop saying that. Sorry, not sorry. 

     

    • #10
    • August 18, 2019, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  11. Sandy Member

    This requires an organization that will enforce the (constantly changing) rules. Without that enforcement it is pretty easy to walk away, but I can imagine being pressured under difficult circumstances. As Jordan Peterson explains to his young students in one of his lectures, if you are employed by an organization, it is likely that at some point you will be asked to do something that is against your principles, and you must be prepared to walk away, or become a slave. Nothing like self employment.

    • #11
    • August 18, 2019, at 7:14 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    I’m from a family of 8 girls and 1 boy, I’ve spent my life saying, “You guys.” I don’t think I can stop saying that. Sorry, not sorry.

     

    Poor boy. Did it dissuade him from marriage?

    • #12
    • August 18, 2019, at 8:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. JoelB Member

    I recall that in one of the Little House books, Laura describes an uncle as having come back from the war a little “wild”. Perhaps there is historical precedent for the term, though its use seemed a little strange to me when I read it. I don’t have the book around now. Someone can check that if he is interested.

    • #13
    • August 19, 2019, at 12:29 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Steve C. Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I haven’t been asked specifically by anyone to change my use of language. If someone gave me that direction, I’d just say, “whatever” and walk away. I wouldn’t even bother to get angry.

    You get good advice from your manicurist.

    Social disintegration? You’re soaking in it.
    • #14
    • August 19, 2019, at 4:29 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Songwriter Member

    The folks at the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University clearly have waaayyyy too much free time on their hands. 

    • #15
    • August 19, 2019, at 5:39 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  16. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    I’ve been taught that “folk” is a nationalist/fascist term, avoided by all correct-thinking progressives. After all, it comes from the German “volk”.

    • #16
    • August 19, 2019, at 5:56 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Jules PA Member

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    I’m from a family of 8 girls and 1 boy, I’ve spent my life saying, “You guys.” I don’t think I can stop saying that. Sorry, not sorry.

     

    Poor boy. Did it dissuade him from marriage?

    Nope. He is oldest. Knows how to manage all “the guys” in our fam. 😂

    • #17
    • August 19, 2019, at 6:19 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Old Bathos Member

    I would not oppose speech codes per se. Freedom of speech includes the right to compose dumb stuff. What I oppose is the authority to enforce them. The issue is not the code but the sanctions. 

    My speech comes from a rich heritage shaped by the art of Shakespeare and the beauty of the King James Bible. It is my cultural heritage and is far more authentic than some rediscovered, SUV-driving born-again Cherokee or dashiki-wearing poser who knows less about African culture than I do or some insta-culture, sexually confused indoctrination victim. How is some assistant dean/Commissar of political thought qualified to select my vocabulary, meanings and intentions and what is the legal authority to punish speech not sanctioned by such persons?

    • #18
    • August 19, 2019, at 6:37 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  19. Eridemus Coolidge

    Notice they NEVER have an alternative for “American.” That’s what I understand the British called us in the Revolution, at a time nobody else was using it.

    Now, I do say “U.S.” instead of “America” for the nation. I don’t know many contexts that continents are referred to, and substituting “North American” still could be confusing, with Canada and Mexico included – so the touchy people who advocate that aren’t getting anywhere. Most people would add the directional N / S if they really needed a continent in reference. But U.S. gets around the boundaries part.

    Still waiting on the people part. We can’t very well say “United State-sian,” therefore lack the advantage many have in the new world where their national name morphs more easily. Should we go for all the 50 separate Georgians, Floridians, Californians, North Carolinians, Oregonians, Hawaiians etc? Oops, too much requiring foreigners to learn where all those belong. And that still leave Maine, Illinois and others to create something for.

    All the solutions still seem to require handsprings to avoid ‘erasing other cultures.’

    • #19
    • August 19, 2019, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Hang On Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    My speech comes from a rich heritage shaped by the art of Shakespeare and the beauty of the King James Bible. It is my cultural heritage and is far more authentic than some rediscovered, SUV-driving born-again Cherokee or dashiki-wearing poser who knows less about African culture than I do or some insta-culture, sexually confused indoctrination victim. How is some assistant dean/Commissar of political thought qualified to select my vocabulary, meanings and intentions and what is the legal authority to punish speech not sanctioned by such persons?

    What’s worse, they charge you a ridiculous amount of money to impose this upon you. And for some sanity.

     

    • #20
    • August 19, 2019, at 7:33 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Arthur Beare Member

    Misthiocracy secretly

    I’ve been taught that “folk” is a nationalist/fascist term, avoided by all correct-thinking progressives. After all, it comes from the German “volk”.

    So all those ’60s and ’70s folksingers were closet Nazis?

    And Obama himself used “folk” or ‘folks” -a lot. Hummm. . .

    • #21
    • August 19, 2019, at 8:37 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I haven’t been asked specifically by anyone to change my use of language. If someone gave me that direction, I’d just say, “whatever” and walk away. I wouldn’t even bother to get angry.

    Susan, I didn’t direct it at you personally, but I did this just 10 days ago in my post: The Careless Terminology of ‘White Nationalism.’

    I didn’t do so by insulting or shaming anyone (at least, I hope not). I argued that white nationalist, white nationalism, and alt-right are such vague, misused, and ill-defined terms that we should abandon them. I recommended white supremacist and white separatist instead, with tight definitions that would actually convey useful information.

    • #22
    • August 19, 2019, at 8:40 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Eeyore Member

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    The folks at the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University clearly have waaayyyy too much free time on their hands.

    Nothing free about it. The taxpayers are paying many of those Task Force administrators well into the six figures. And when the Dems take over, they will be paying all the students on the TF’s costs so they can spend 100% of their time on merde like this.

    • #23
    • August 19, 2019, at 8:50 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. milkchaser Member

    I met my freshman daughter’s suitemate yesterday. She asked me my name and I replied, “Bob”. She followed up with “How do you want me to address you?” I thought that was an excellent, thoughtful question. I was nowhere near that thoughtful at age 18.

    I assumed she meant should she call me Mr. Bob of Mr. White. I told her to just call me Bob. She’s an adult now and not my child.

    But my daughter assumed that she was asking me for my pronouns. Yikes! 

    • #24
    • August 19, 2019, at 9:18 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  25. James Gawron Thatcher

    milkchaser (View Comment):

    I met my freshman daughter’s suitemate yesterday. She asked me my name and I replied, “Bob”. She followed up with “How do you want me to address you?” I thought that was an excellent, thoughtful question. I was nowhere near that thoughtful at age 18.

    I assumed she meant should she call me Mr. Bob of Mr. White. I told her to just call me Bob. She’s an adult now and not my child.

    But my daughter assumed that she was asking me for my pronouns. Yikes!

    mc,

    You shouldn’t worry about this too much. Mistakes are made. Eventually, they will be recognized and rectified.

    Well, at least they will be recognized.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #25
    • August 19, 2019, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  26. Percival Thatcher

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly

    I’ve been taught that “folk” is a nationalist/fascist term, avoided by all correct-thinking progressives. After all, it comes from the German “volk”.

    So all those ’60s and ’70s folksingers were closet Nazis?

    And Obama himself used “folk” or ‘folks” -a lot. Hummm. . .

    The original title of their first album was Achtung, It’s the Kingston Trio.

    • #26
    • August 19, 2019, at 10:05 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    We desperately need a #FU movement. 

    • #27
    • August 19, 2019, at 10:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. The Reticulator Member

    milkchaser (View Comment):

    I met my freshman daughter’s suitemate yesterday. She asked me my name and I replied, “Bob”. She followed up with “How do you want me to address you?” I thought that was an excellent, thoughtful question. I was nowhere near that thoughtful at age 18.

    I assumed she meant should she call me Mr. Bob of Mr. White. I told her to just call me Bob. She’s an adult now and not my child.

    But my daughter assumed that she was asking me for my pronouns. Yikes!

    Your answer was a good way to handle it. Your daughter’s suitemate is there to get educated, and she learned another point of view.

    • #28
    • August 19, 2019, at 12:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Stad Thatcher

    There is the latest speech guide from the academy, the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University. Don’t call people “American”, it directs; “This erases other cultures.” Don’t say a person is mad or a lunatic, call him “surprising/wild” or “sad”. “Eskimo”, “freshman” and “illegal alien” are out. “You guys” should be replaced by “all/folks”. Don’t say “male” or “female”, say “man”, “woman”, or “gender non-binary”.

    Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

    • #29
    • August 19, 2019, at 1:07 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. The Reticulator Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    There is the latest speech guide from the academy, the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University. Don’t call people “American”, it directs; “This erases other cultures.” Don’t say a person is mad or a lunatic, call him “surprising/wild” or “sad”. “Eskimo”, “freshman” and “illegal alien” are out. “You guys” should be replaced by “all/folks”. Don’t say “male” or “female”, say “man”, “woman”, or “gender non-binary”.

    Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

    It’s not nonsense. It’s microaggression, designed to train you to jump through their hoops and train you submit to them. If we all used that terminology they’d come up with something else to put us in our place.

     

    • #30
    • August 19, 2019, at 1:13 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
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