July 31, 2003 15:01 | Culture


Just a quick rant and drive-by-insult.

Nota Bene: The following was written in an inexplicable ranting frenzy of annoyance. I went a bit far, I admit, and apologise. I do not, however, retract.

Joi speaks of language and land as a "commons" in a short post and semi-quotes N. Scott Momaday:

He also said that from a Native American perspective, land was a commons and language was a commons. Land was where we come from and return to. Language was where we lived. (He said it much more poetically than I can, but I can't remember exactly what he said.)

Beautiful. Love it.

Then comes along one Michael Wilson and says:

It's cute, it's clever, but it isn't correct. Not in a general semantics sense, not in semiotics, and anyone that's tried to introduce new terms or langauge shifts also recognizes it just ain't so.

I am reminded of one of my favorite movies, "Dead Man", wherein Nobody, the Native American played by Gary Farmer, keeps refering to Johnny Depp's character, William Blake, as "Stupidfuckingwhiteman".


Language exists as an organism exists: it evolves, grows and dies in accordance to it's environment. We as a commons (as a group, as a community, as a mass of disparate elements) create that environment. Your puny little comment of "anyone trying to introduce new terms or language shifts also recognizes it just ain't so" is not only shortsighted, but patently false. You mean you've NEVER had your peer group adopt an expression from you? Loser. You mean you've never seen an entire cultural shift take root from one or two words in a marketing campaign? Open your eyes and ears!

Not to mention a million other examples of how collective usage defines language.

Either you didn't understand at all what was said, have little to no knowledge of semiotics, semantics and the entire field of linguistics, or your puny faux-logic-strangled brain can't see beyond it's own ego.

Either way: Stupidfuckingwhiteman.


The fact that this Wilson fellow has "... tried to introduce new terms or language shifts" means he is either an unsuccessful Marketing Exec. or that kid from school who was always trying to be cool but just didn't get it. A bit like people who use big words like 'semantics' without truly understanding what they mean.

On a more constructive note, he should read 'The Language Instinct' by Steven PInker.

I've just adopted an expression from you Boris. Stupidfuckingwhiteman.

Of course language is a commons that we all help to evolve. If it wasn't thus, then it is plain that we wouldn't have developed the necessary skills to advance our society.

The evidence to support this theory of language being such an organism is ample. The Oxford English dictionary makes much of it's annual additions; usually words that have evolved from underground usage into popular language; even words that have been born of advertising sometimes become adopted such is the power of the marketing agency in our consumer society.

An example of collective usage affecting language? Well, how about 'Chill out'. As in 'calm down'. 20 years ago 'chill out' would have meant taking a cold shower... Now we use the phrase in everyday language; like this:

Chill out Boris. It's Friday dude. The weekend beckons ;)

3- Boris Anthony

Anders: hahah rpecisely! I was gonan say the same bu tfelt I was already going quite far. :)

Pete: Fo' shizza ma' nizza! 's all good mon!

I am just glad to see y'all agree with me that that twat was a twit.