Whatever it is, it is not rocket science

English is a very beautiful language but it is also a very powerful one.  In many ways it almost dominates the world, though the English speaking people (those for whom it is their mother tongue) are a relative minority.  It is also changing and evolving all the time and this process keeps accelerating and seems unstoppable.  New words are added to the dictionary every year, others are dropped and become anachronisms.  Nouns become adjectives (relation – relational) and verbs become nouns (transition – to transition). Sometimes the meaning changes to the opposite of the original meaning (wicked). Often politics changes the name to change the attitude (same sex marriage – equal marriage, spare room subsidy – bedroom tax) once the new name has been accepted the argument is won. It has all been said before, of course. It was in 1945 that George Orwell wrote his essay “Politics and the English language” and it has lost none of its relevance today.

Now and again you come across examples that in their passion for gobbledygook and meaninglessness, take the breath away. Here are four that came across my path recently.  1) Is a Wikipedia entry on Alan Hirsch, a contemporary Christian writer, 2) is my memory of what one individual said at a recent meeting. I was so captivated by the number of idioms strung together in a meaningless stream, I just had to write them down afterwards. 3) is Sir Humphrey from a transcript of BBC’s “Yes Prime Minister” and 4) is the instructions on who should sign a Building Standards Completion Certificate form.

1

Probably Hirsch’s most distinctive contribution was to articulate what can be called a phenomenology of apostolic movements. By probing the question of what comes together to create exponential, high impact, multiplication movements, he came up with the concept of what he calls ‘Apostolic Genius’ which is defined as “a unique energy and force saturating phenomenal Jesus movements.” Hirsch defines it elsewhere as “the built-in life force and guiding mechanism of God’s people. As to its phenomenology, it is made up of the symphonious interplay between six core elements, or “mDNA”.

2

Frankly there has clearly been a series of systematic and systemic failures and a litany of abuse that beggars belief. We have been avoiding the elephant in the room for too long and so we need to grasp the nettle and bite the bullet and carry out wholesale root and branch reforms, bringing forward a whole raft of measures and putting in place a series of robust safeguards with clear blue water between them. It will not be a silver bullet but we need to be singing off the same hymn sheet because the devil is in the detail. Now I would hold my hand up and be the first to admit that we don’t need to teach grannies how to suck eggs and we don’t want to re-invent the wheel, but it’s not rocket science.

3

“Its not fair with trident we could obliterate the whole of eastern Europe”

“But we don’t want to obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe

  It’s a deterrent

  It’s a bluff I probably wouldn’t use it”

“Yes but they don’t know you probably wouldn’t use it”

“They probably do”

“Yes they probably know that you probably wouldn’t but they can’t certainly know”

“They probably certainly know that I probably wouldn’t”

“Yes but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that, although you probably wouldn’t, there is no probability that you certainly would”

4

The completion certificate must be submitted by the relevant person as defined by the Building (Scotland) Act 2003, that is –(a) Where the work was carried out, or the conversion made, otherwise than on behalf of another person, the person who carried out the work or made the conversion (b) Where the work was carried out, or the conversion made, by a person on behalf of another person, that other person (c) If the owner of the building does not fall within paragraph (a) or (b) and the person required by these paragraphs to submit the completion certificate has failed to do so, the owner.

All of the four, except one, are serious pieces and here is the question, which is also a serious one: Is it possible that that the English language will continue to change and evolve in an increasing rate and to such a point, where it becomes impossible to stay ahead or understand and then it becomes useless for communication and in future years become a dead language?

What do you think?

Crawford Mackenzie

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