Orwell is quite critical of the Communist Party's ill effect upon the English language, because it uses metaphors that hardly anyone knows the derivation, acting rote. He explains that these words originated from German and Russian translations which no one attempted to find suitable equivalents. So the English effectively chose to use flabby, imprecise language like "lackey," "flunkey," "jackboots," and "hyena" without really knowing the derivation or etymology, "perverting" the English language, according to Orwell.
I agree with his judgment, in that if we continually search for the most optimal word to translate text, we'll be closer to the meaning. Further, I included the word optimal because that forces us to treat language like a pursuit of clarity and possible improvement, rather than and open-and-shut tactic. Even if we're not language specialists, or use it deliberately in our vocations, intellectually orienting ourselves toward language as an abstract phenomena rather than a linear, "this piece always goes here" tool, enables us to think about our very own language through echoing it back onto ourselves. This is the feedback loop that Orwell points out the Communist Party lacked; they used language that was the product of a poor translation ignorant that the words they used didn't precisely represent their intended meaning. How can he make such a statement? Because the original Russian or German meaning meant something different than the metaphor which mid-20ths century England attached it to. Tracking metaphors is not that difficult.
Unfortunately, understanding the derivation of our metaphors is not enough when intending to clean up our language because modern English utilizes initialisms so prolifically, they've been added to the official vernacular, or dictionary. In 2011, the Oxford English Dictionary added these initialisms, which are created by using the first letter of each word in the saying and pronouncing each individual letter, unlike an acronym, which creates a whole new word, like laser. Thus, LOL has earned a spot independent from laugh out loud, as has OMG (oh my god), <3 (yes, a text symbol of a heart has been added in 2013), IMHO (in my honest/humble opinion), and BFF (best friends forever). It serve to note that this is not the first time in history initialisms have been used, as in the 1960's LOL meant 'little old lady.' However, it wasn't added to the dictionary, therefore remained slang, a subordinate branch of language.
We know exactly where these initialisms derived. In media line text is expensive, plus people shorten common phraseologies to communicate more in a limited space, such as cell phones. I find this a slippery slope because it cheapens actual expression through willingly creating cliche's, prepackaged words and phrases used as blanket responses. Read online chat forums aloud, unzipping any and all initialism people use to communicate with one another. What you'll hear out of your mouth is not only the equivalent to third grade english, but so much "laughing out loud" that it'll sound like a comedy sketch. Thus, understanding derivation doesn't necessarily get to the nucleus of the matter, it simply shows us that the social media generation is being granted legitimacy by the language specialists and purists. Graeme Diamond, the principal editor for adding new words to the Oxford English Dictionary says, "Things people think are new words actually have a longer history. The OED is quite cautious about which words make the cut." I see this as side-stepping the issue, because the process of over-shortening non-artifact words makes them ambiguous, as we just saw in the transition from LOL meaning "little old lady" to meaning "laugh out loud." I actually remember someone explaining to me in college how LOL meant "lots of love." That's not to say that BFF will necessarily mean anything "best friends forever," but it does mean that using those three little letters instead of actually communicating to your friend what makes your relationship special makes your language Communistic.
So what's the difference between an initialism and an acronym? Well, the purpose of an initialism is to shorten the amount a person actually has to type or say when communicating interpersonally, and an acronym is the creation of an actual word from multiple other words when dealing with artifacts. So RADAR is simply RAdio Detection And Ranging. Yet, it's a truncation, but RADAR can't mean anything other than radio detection and ranging. It's a synthesis of something humans actually created, as in technology, or classes and codes. Proponents of digital initialisms say that it's the same matter, but interpersonal initialisms affects the meaning of our communications in that it prevents us from searching for unique ways to say what we intend, or to adapt to our audience. Further, as Kristhoffer commonly argues, "the language we use is connected to how we think. They grow and shrink together." So using RADAR in a sentence when talking about submarines is simply using another human artifact, but using LOL in our language actually--on a habitual and capacity level--shrinks our mental organ because we're not creating what we think in that moment with our words. The interaction between ourselves and ourselves, and ourselves and others determines what ideals are introduced to our minds, and the best tool we have for this endeavor is our faculty of language. So instead of shortening it when conversing with other (hopefully) intelligent humans, let's be specific and deliberate instead of faster or more "efficient," like the production machine advocates.
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