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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Next time I'll just say "explain yourself"
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 15:29:52 -0700

Andy Robertson quoting Josh Geller quoting...

> > > Only in Orwell's 1984 (and arguably in some SF books 
> > > written since then) does this concept of total
> > > linguistic replacement arise.

> > Really?
> >
> > When was the last time you used the word 'nigger' in conversation?

> Again, not relevant, though pithy.  Some words can be cut 
> out, but it's not the same thing as the massive restructuring
> Orwell was diagramming

No; but the much larger removal of _all_ such epithets 
from polite conversation comes a lot closer.

As for granting Orwell primacy in this matter, well, that's
pretty silly. There is a longish history of people claiming 
one way or another that the structure of language determines 
the structure of thought, or actively trying to restructure 
thought through some such "massive restructuring" of language; 
one well-known (at least in SF circles) example, published a 
good fifteen years before NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, is Alfred 
Korzybski's SCIENCE AND SANITY, which promises improved health 
(both phyisical and mental; indeed, it denies the distinction 
in favor of the "more general" concept of psychosomatic health) 
to persons who restructure their language (though, again 
"language" is an insufficient term) "scientifically," in lines 
with "non-Aristotelean principles and tool" such as 
"non-identfication" and "indexing." Many students of Korzybski's 
"General Semantics" speak and write (or try to) in what they 
call E', E-Prime, which is English without the verb "to be," 
which (they claim, or at least some of them do) _automatically_ 
eliminates identification ... and if that isn't restructuring
the language, I'd like to know what is!

More generally, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the basic statement
of linguistic determinism, was first announced in 1929, though
it has predecessors going back hundreds of years, of which 
perhaps the best known would be Wilhelm von Humboldt's 
_weltanschauung_ hypothesis: but I believe the roots of the idea
go back to Plato, if not further.



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