Victories in the Language Wars

Victories in the Language Wars August 30, 2023

As George Orwell has shown us in his essay Politics and the English Language, when political factions or the government want to make us think in a certain way, they rely not so much on rational arguments or factual evidence.  Rather, they do it with language.

And, since people think in language, whoever wins the language battles will tend to have their way.  For example, those who advocate killing children in the womb first took refuge in the medical abstraction “abortion.”  Later, that word took on a somewhat negative connotation, so those who advocate such a thing stopped referring to themselves as “pro-abortion.”  Instead, they became known as “pro-choice.”  And what freedom-loving American could oppose that?  Now, even that term is being supplanted as supporting “reproductive freedom” or “supporting women’s health care.”

The left has generally been better at these rhetorical games than conservatives have been.  But recently, conservatives have scored some victories in gaining control of the language.  So complains John Blake in his article How conservatives use ‘verbal jiu-jitsu’ to turn liberals’ language against them.

If today’s liberals, or progressives, or social justice warriors, or whatever they want to be called, don’t like being described as “woke” or associated with “critical race theory,” let them repudiate the beliefs associated with those words.  Somehow, I don’t think they will.

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