but i no what they means


The other day, I got into a "discussion" with a friend about the importance of proper English in web forums. His point was that the intent of the message took precedence over the manner in which it was presented. I, of course, disagreed. For some reason, it struck me to the core that anyone would be willing to accept an inferior product for the sake of receiving any product. Later, the roots of my dismay started coming to light. Unfortunately, this time was after our discussion.

The discussion itself revolved around words like ordinance. I told him that, for example, I let my subscription to a magazine lapse because the editors didn't understand the difference between ordinance and ordnance. Neither, unfortunately, could my friend at the time.

It's little stuff like the inability of a person to use language tools to correctly construct an opinion. That failing diminishes the credibility of that person's position on anything. Other than being alluded to as a "word Nazi" in the discussion, there was really no reason why I should be so bothered by this topic of being able to correctly use English.

So, I stewed on it. I thought about the humor that might be missed. Try reading Dennis Miller without an understanding of the English language. You'll miss half of the jokes. Try deciphering specifications. What the heck is a kilofoot? Pick standard or metric measurement terms and stick with them!

But, that still didn't calcify within me why such a position as my friend's bothered me so much. Was it annoyance towards people with a lazy attitude and indolent temperament who believed that it was okay to be ignorant? I remember that I was once dressed down for knowing that the country from which the United States won its independence was England. The person who insulted me for knowing this fact was content with knowing that July 4th was celebrated without any reason as to why.

This memory was a clue.

There is a tendency these days to use words without understanding their meaning. You don't have to be a word Nazi to realize that much of what is going out on blogs and forums (foreum?) is written by people without a clue as to what they're really saying.

Let's take the word "freedom". This, I believe is a symptom of my anxiety. I saw something the other day about "freedom from cigarette smoke". What does that mean? Nothing. What does that statement do? Reduce one of the grandest concepts of the entire human race to just additional misused jargon.

What is freedom? Based on Genesis and my own feelings and experiences, it is the right to do something. It is the ability to act without external restraints. An individual can have the freedom to smoke, laugh, talk, eat, walk, and sing. He cannot have the freedom from smoke, laughter, food, walking, or song.

Good old Madison Avenue! When I heard the commercial touting "freedom from pain" I winced. This impossible situation has been taken by the hoi polloi as if it means something. It's worse than something being "cheesier". (What does that mean? Tastes more like cheese? What kind? The variety of cheese makes this statement absurd even should the word "cheesier" mean something formally. All it means in the vernacular is that something is more inferior. Another "Huh?" But let's get back to freedom.)

This is a grand concept. Adam and Eve's freedom got them into trouble. Point number one from the early pages of Genesis freedom is dangerous. What was this couple's freedom? They had no rules! None. Nada. Zip. They could do whatever they wanted. This, in case you didn't know it, is freedom.

Not freedom from anything, but freedom to do stuff. Well, they had one rule don't eat from the trees of wisdom or life. At the point that they were given an order that prevented them from doing something, their freedom was limited.

Let's talk about being free versus freedom. Because you are free of pain does not mean that you have freedom from pain. Freedom is a grander concept than that. Because you are giving something for free, a car for example, this does not imply that you have the freedom to use this object any way you wish.

The concept of an individual being able to do whatever that person wants is one of the prime tenet's that led to our country's war of independence. It shouldn't be diminished or subverted for personal reasons.

I saw a poster by a protester indicating the "right to a job". What? I can understand rights which are to be available to all regardless of societal structure. A right is something ubiquitous that applies to any situation. How about the right to a job? Let's get back to early civilization. There were no jobs! How can this be a right?

Yet, thanks to the inability to use the English language correctly, the waters are muddied and terms mean nothing. A national newscaster once said something about how, "In the United States we are fortunate that have the privilege of freedom of speech." This implies that "freedom of speech" is a term whose words mean nothing in themselves and only the concept matters. To diminish this right by referring to it as a something that we are privileged to have reduced this speaker to the status of an unthinking figurehead.

In the United States we have the right of freedom of speech. We can speak whenever we want, wherever we want, however we want, about whatever we want. That my previous statement is not true tells you that we've given up the right that belongs to us.

Is that trivial? You can always say, "Well, I knew what they meant.". Are you sure you knew? Maybe they meant what they said and you're being too complacent. Maybe, in their opinion, what is a "right" and what is a "privilege" are one and the same. And maybe someone other than you thought, "We're lucky to have that privilege. It can be changed or taken away at any time if it wasn't for our government."

It's a right. Every person on the face of the planet is entitled to it in an unequivocal, unmodified form. Manners and etiquette should determine what is allowed to be said, not the law.

Much of this is due to the way words are misused. The very concept of freedom is considered to be limited. For example, the law (or is it an ordinance?) that prevents people from shouting, "Fire!" in a crowded theater limits freedom of speech.
"But," you say, "it saves lives."
"So," I say, "what?"

See point number one freedom is dangerous. Weren't there already laws in place to punish someone for causing harm to others? Was this law, which limited freedom, really necessary? Or was it just a way to not have to enforce other laws?

Any way you look at it, that law and many more like it have eroded our rights.
"But," you say, "we need laws!"
"So," I say, "there's the rub."

If you want to impose rules on yourself, that's fine. That's your freedom of choice. If you want to impose those rules on me, that's not fine. I'm not your slave or chattel.

What about those who don't speak English or can't speak it correctly? I'm talking about those who contribute to a forum. There's time to edit what you've written. Maybe there's even an education to be had by not throwing up something at first trolling opportunity.

And if you're going to use English, the tongue of philosophers, scientists, inventors, economists, and (shudder) politicians use it correctly. Blunt the language and you blunt the individuals who use it to communicate. There's a line from an otherwise lackluster, trivial movie (V for Vendetta) that comes to mind. I'm probably remembering it incorrectly, but here goes nothing. "Don't give that first inch!"