No Love for the Language

Why do these people hate the English language so much? Why not say “she benefited from programs” instead of this word soup of “has living experience having benefited”? These are educated people. They must know that this sounds incomprehensible. I mark “has experience having” as a mistake in my Freshman courses.

22 thoughts on “No Love for the Language”

      1. It makes me a little sad when I visit someone’s house, and there are no bookshelves. Worse, when there are shelves, but no books. But this is very common at all income levels.

        I don’t think it’s a problem of book-literacy, though. I’ve met nearly-illiterate people who had a good ear for the language, loved a clever turn of phrase, and had a vast, complex, and brilliant mastery of regional idiom. Every one of them grew up in a family where telling stories was entertainment, and had a childhood totally saturated by classic country music: Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., Dolly Parton, etc.– none of them songwriting slouches– and they were plastered all over the radio for free.

        Most of the top-40 music you hear on the radio now is written by the same 4 or 5 professional writers, and has been since the 90s– think “Hit me baby one more time” by Britney Spears: catchy and vapid. An entire generation has reached adulthood in that time, and those same pervy old white dudes are still writing the latest Ariana Grande hits (to get a glimpse of this, look up Max Martin’s songwriting credits. Who is Max Martin? He’s the guy who writes everything on the radio since 1993…).

        Where are regular kids exposed to rich language? They aren’t, mostly.

        There’s a channel on YouTube I turn on when the house is quiet and I have to clean the floors. It’s called Vice Grip Garage, and is some Midwestern (Minnesota?) guy doing running commentary while he works on cars. I love hearing him talk, and scrolling through the comments, it seems like his zillion fans are about evenly split between car enthusiasts and language enthusiasts. He’s a sign of the times: We all used to know and hang out with local verbal prodigies like that, and it’s a void in modern life that– like everything else– we turn to the internet to fill.

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  1. “has lived experience having benefitted from a number of federal programs as a kid”

    I realize (frantically hope) that this… unfortunate phrasing is the result of twitter word limits and not her idea of what well-formed sentences should sound like…. trying to think of how to make it less awful…

    “(She) has the lived experience of benefiting from a number of federal programs as a child” that, at least, doesn’t violate basic grammar or register (why is a US government official using ‘kid’ in an official context?)

    I deal with a number of publications in English by non-native speakers who often really don’t care about issues like register or euphony or style (in English at least) and they still don’t produce this level of crap…

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  2. They’re training people to recognise the term “lived experience” in a way that means something different to what it means in common vernacular, so that they can manipulate those people later via neurolinguistics.

    The same thing was done with the term “structural racism” which on normal interpretation using regular English is a nonsense term that no one I have ever seen can explain with precision, because the words they’ve put together don’t match the meaning that has been associated with it. Yet, because of the programming applied, many people in the public associate a meaning to the term that is quite different to what the words actually mean.

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    1. “lived experience” in a way that means something different to what it means in common vernacula”

      IME “lived experience” means much the same as “conversation about X” or “structural racism” or “whiteness” in wokespeak – they all mean SHUT UP! (with the extra info: if you dare challenge me I’ll make your life a living hell!)

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      1. Exactly. It means absolutely nothing but that’s precisely the point.

        Can anybody point to any differences between experience and lived experience? Of course, not. The differences aren’t in the words but in the capacity to punish and hurt you of those who use it.

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  3. That was seriously painful to read! For more than one reasons.

    I believe that people frequently try to hide lack of substance in subject matter with verbal rigmarole and obscure jargon. This is unfortunately a common phenomenon in academia, especially in maths-heavy fields such as theoretical physics — so once you have seen/heard it enough number of times, the mental bulls**t detector is fine-tuned to spot it elsewhere with high fidelity.

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    1. This confuses me. Reading stuff like the snippet above, I get the feeling they aren’t pretending, or trying to use verbal gymnastics to cover for a lack of substance. They think the jargon and the big words are substance, because they haven’t got the reflective capacity to tell the difference.

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      1. I think we agree… What you suggest is probably an inevitable asymptote of continually peddling nonsense garbed in impenetrable words — eventually, what’s fake and what’s factual becomes impossible to resolve even in the author’s own head.

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  4. “Lived experience” is a fairly technical term from sociology & isn’t jelling quite right in the excerpt quoted. But it’s a real term.

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      1. “precisely why sociology is a fake discipline”

        I don’t think it’s fake at all, but it’s…. kind of like translation theory: it’s a finite field and it’s a good idea to have some people around who understand it but it’s not an endless mine of new ideas and attempts to turn it into such run aground in evermore arcane nonsense.

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        1. All of our job searches are canceled this year. Obviously. Except for the search for some wokester flavor of the week in Social Work. Everybody is too terrified to say no to that request.

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