The Britton Word: Linguistic Gymnastics

The Britton Word: Linguistic Gymnastics

Jon Britton ·

Hello and Welcome to the maiden voyage of The Britton Word. I have been writing for years on a lot of different subjects, but through it all I began to notice a common theme. We have lost control of language, though we often use the same words, it seems that in many cases we understand the meanings of those words very differently. That is the result of what I call "Linguistic Gymnastics."

Linguistic Gymnastics refers to obfuscation, misdirection, misinformation and outright propaganda through the misuse of language. It's most prevalent in politics and activism, obviously. For example, referring to something as "government funded." The truth is, it's TAXPAYER funded, because government generates no revenue, it merely confiscates and redistributes it. Or, as another example, someone calling themselves "anti-fascist" which would more accurately be described as pro-Communist or anarchist. Historically, the original "Antifa" was anti-fascist AND pro-Communist. The modern Antifa seem to be a conglomeration of pro-socialist, pro-Marxist and anarchists who view anyone with beliefs that differ as fascist.

Words have meaning, though some are more precise or ambiguous than others. Always beware of anything labeled as pro- or anti- something. Just because you are anti- something bad does NOT necessarily mean you are for something good. You can be anti- something bad and still be pro- something just as bad or worse. You can also be pro- something good and be directly opposed to pro- something else good. For example, pro-life vs pro-choice, both "sound good" yet whichever position you subscribe to makes the other bad, to your point of view.

The vague and ambiguous words are the most insidiously abused. Words or word combinations that have a positive "feel" to them, but have rather flexible meanings. "Social Justice" has a nice ring to it, but I have yet to find anyone who can define it in concrete terms. Typically, you'll see it defined by other, equally ambiguous, subjective words, like "equity" or "equitable." A word that shares some commonality with familiar words, like equal and equality, but with a very different meaning and context. I'll delve more into that one specifically at another time, but a shorthand explanation of "equity" can be found in the writings of Karl Marx, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Language is "supposed to be" a means of communicating, but often devolves into a means of miscommunicating and manipulating. A good rule of thumb, if it fits on a meme or a bumper sticker, then there's A LOT more to it than what you see or think. We have gotten lazy in our language with our LOLs and TL;DRs (too long;didn't read for those who don't know).

I wonder how many of you have already TL;DR'd me....

I wonder how many of you have already TL;DR'd me....

We've been spoon fed slogans and catchphrases, and far too many people's informational lives revolve around headlines, memes and 280 characters or less (which is only a slight improvement from the original 140 characters).

I get it, TMI right? Too Much Information, you have to take shortcuts to stay abreast of everything going on these days, right? We live in the "Information Age" and yet, people are less informed or more misinformed than ever. Obviously, I don't have all the answers, but... I have had the pleasure/curse of being able to interact with, debate, argue, educate and be educated by people of all walks of life, all manner of beliefs and varying degrees of persuasiveness. My goal here is to share what I've learned from that experience.

As I delve into this new venture, I will try to share some tips and tricks I've learned along the way. Share some commonly misused or manipulated language I've encountered. How to spot linguistic gymnastics, propaganda, misdirection, etc. Words have meaning and if we are to avoid tearing ourselves apart, then we have to get back on the same page and communicate, effectively, again. That can only happen once we REALLY speak the same language again.

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