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. --Blattid --