ABUSE OF LANGUAGE

 

No symbol, referent, word, whatever has an inherent meaning.
      Meanings (i.e., referents) of symbols are in our minds.
      We conceive them ourselves or use those social (dictionary), i.e., conventional meanings GIVEN to us to assign to the symbols we use.
      Ordinary (every day usage of) language and professional jargon are the greatest sources of the ABUSE of language.
      To paraphrase S. I. Hayakawa, from his early edition of LANGUAGE IN ACTION, "Educated" people hide their ignorance by the use and manipulation of big and unexamined words.
  JARGON
      Confused unintelligible language,
      The special vocabulary of a particular group or activity,
      Obscure and often pretentious language.
  The antidote to such jargon lies in clear, critical, and analytical thinking.
      These are not synonymous terms.
      Teachers have a tendency to think they are.
      They are fond of claiming that they teach their students critical thinking.
      There is abundant evidence to the contrary.
  Before we pursue these issues further, let us, at the outset, be aware of the limits and the scope of our pursuit.
      We are dealing only with market-place philosophy.
      This is high-school-senior and community-college-student subject matter.
      It is the kind of minimal issues and knowledge that every person needs to understand to be able to detect when language is functioning as his best friend or as his worst enemy.
      We are making no attempt to investigate "ivory-tower" issues.
      Having said this, let us caution that he who lacks the curiosity, patience, and initiative to think about these issues may find them difficult.

   There is a dearth of knowledge regarding the nuances of "critical thinking" in American education.

 

SEE FILE 21: PERENNIAL QUESTIONS

1997 by Pasqual S. Schievella