Why not judge a book by its cover? Isn’t the cover there to show what’s in the book? Sure there are some idiots who ruined the true meaning and purpose of cover but that doesn’t change the fact that the cover is there for the single purpose of introducing the book.
One of my favorite comedians of all time, if not my most favorite one, is George Carlin. Carlin explains language and our fear of using straight language very well. He explains how we invent new words to satisfy or avoid our fears.
I think our way of thinking right now is very much influenced from our new fears. Media has a big impact on our way of thinking and media, I believe, is the biggest source of our fears. These fears have changed us a lot and one of its effects is our language.
The sole purpose of language is communication. When we change the meaning behind words, we change our way of communication. We change the way we interact and we change the way we live. This affects a lot of other parts of our lives as well.
Language can also deliver feelings and words are very much important in that matter. New language we’re speaking, the one with newly-invented mild words, fails to deliver our feelings correctly.
George Carlin gives a pretty good example about it. There’s a condition in combat, most people know about it, when a fighting person nervous system has been stressed to its absolute peak and maximum, can’t take any more input, the nervous system is either snapped or is about to snap, in the first world war that condition was called shell shock.
Simple honest direct language. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along, and the very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shellshock! Battle fatigue.
Then again time passed an the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.
The war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years (at the time Carlin was explaining), and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ll bet you if we’d have still been calling it shellshock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time.
Remind me again, why not judge a book by its cover? Isn’t that its whole purpose, to make it possible for us to make a judgement? What has changed and why it has changed? I truly miss the time that we put purpose in things we created and we valued them enough to stick to its good and only change it for the better!