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Subject: Free speech under attack rss

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Check out this link that discusses the banning of Latin phrases like "ad lib" and "via."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082427/The-councils...

The article is a short and easy read, so I won't wast your time by summarizing.

What are your thoughts? I find any regulation of speech, beyond that which presents imminent danger -- fire in a theatre kind of thing -- to be exceedingly problematic and in fact, dangerous. Those who control language, control the message, and that's too damn much power.

edit: I'm also interested in your take on comparing this to linguistic "ethnic cleansing" or an effort to make the language more ethnically poor by exorcising the diversity that Latin phrases offer.
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To each of these tiny-minded language butchers, I say:

Es mundus excrementi.

And yeah, I had to look that up.
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Those poofs can ban anything they bloody well want it's England not the USA they can stick it in their fanny!.

But seriously while it does rank high on the stupidity meter isn't the title just a wee bit alarmist? I mean come on dumbing down the language at council meetings is a tiny bit different than stifling unpopular thoughts or beliefs. Reading the article and the comments afterward it is apparent that the the reasoning behind this is not to control any messages, they're just to stupid to understand Latin. This is a far cry from the act that the British Parliament tried to pass (did it pass?) that bans and prosecutes any speech that Home Secretary David Blunkett said would "incite hatred" (I wonder where the bureaucrats draw that line).

As for the council actions, well there are near countless words in the English language that have been incorporated in to what is now our native tongue. In fact I remember using words like Status Quo, vice versa and via as a child having no understanding of Latin, I just knew the meanings the words have, just like every other fracking word we use. This sounds more like some stupid populist reaction, note the references to "elitism".

And everyone who aspires to power uses and manipulates language. Just watch the PC crowd and the Religiously Correct people talk about abortion (is someone Pro-Life or Anti-Choice). Or how governments use loaded language in their bills to whip up public support. For example the Patriot act. Now please tell me what in that bill has anything to with being a patriot? Though if you vote against it, your NOT A PATRIOT!

In fact the party that is the most effective at manipulating language is the party who shapes a debate in their favor. And the Conservatives have been FAR better at shaping the language of the debates than the Elite Liberals have (makes you wonder who really is the elite here).
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Big Woo
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FYI: http://www.bournemouth.gov.uk/News/press_office/Press_Releas...

Quote:
Use of Latin words - Inaccurate reporting in recent national media
Bournemouth Council must correct inaccurate reporting in several national media.

The Council has not banned any Latin words or phrases. Two years ago, we issued advice to our staff to encourage plain, appropriate and easily-understood language. This includes considering whether or not various phrases, including jargon and Latin, are appropriate for the particular audience that the information is aimed at.


So, this government organisation thought it was important to issue (additional) guidelines to its staff, with the ultimate aim of making sure certain members of the public can easily understand ALL the information that might be essential to them. Shocking.

Yeah, the UK Daily Mail found a "free speech" story here, but only after it bend over backwards and twisted perspective so far it could see its own arse.
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BigWoo wrote:
Yeah, the UK Daily Mail found a "free speech" story here, but only after it bend over backwards and twisted perspective so far it could see its own arse.

It is the Daily Mail afterall.
 
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Yeah, I judge the quality of most alarmist reporting by how many Google steps it takes to debunk it. The Daily Mail usually falls into the "one step so bloody obvious that it should never have been reported that way, let alone quoted in a RSP thread"-category.

Right up until the point I remembered that we think of unfounded alarm as the perfect way to start threads.
 
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People that attack free speech should shut the hell up!
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Louise Holden
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Latin is still a real knee-jerk class issue in the UK- I have no idea whether we are alone in this. It has always been considered the first and most important measure of an intellectual education.

My grandfather was the first of his professional upper middle class family NOT to go to university because he couldn't pass his Latin exam. I was forced to drop one of the sciences for O-level (exams at 16) because my elderly headmaster was convinced that it was more important for a prospective scientist to know Latin than to study biology (fortunately I had a dedicated if frustrated biology teacher who taught two of us in a lesson after school for two years).

The almost total disappearance of Latin at most state schools is still blamed by a significant number of our MPs and right wing commentators as responsible for the decline of moral values and the ability to spell properly. The removal of Latin technical terms from much of our legal processes only took place a few years ago- until then the actual process of taking someone to court or being tried for an offence was shrouded in so much Latin language that only a legal professional could really understand it. (I'm now completely failing to find any reference to this process however and am wondering if I dreamed it in a more than usually boring dream).

For the Daily Mail (which is not just a crazed tabloid but the crazed tabloid of choice of the upper middle classes) any suggestion that its readers don't have a solid grasp of Latin is the same as suggesting that they went to bog standard comprehensives where they probably smoked pot behind the bike sheds and had sex with members of the opposite sex. And to suggest that other people don't have a solid grasp of Latin is to acknowledge the total collapse of our education system due to the decadent liberal elite.

So when the Daily Mail runs this story it's not just a "crazy officious council" story, it's a "the country is going to the dogs, we'll soon be eating each other alive and it's all the government's fault" story as well.





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The countries is going to the dogs, please be patient while I go and get my knife and fork.
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Isaac Citrom
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I wholeheartedly disagree, BW.

I understand the underlying sentiment of being accommodating but I disagree with it entirely. There is much that our Western societies can do and in fact do to accommodate other cultures. This is a good thing. To everyhing in life there is a limit.

This is not at all about easing understanding. It is about the right to remain ignorant and the right not to assimilate. Indeed, one aspect is the converse of the other. Instead of immigrants making the effort to learn the standard, this notion revolves around dumbing down the standard itself. It reminds me of a joke. How many engineers does it take to change a lightbulb? None; they just redefine the standard to darkness.

By what reasoning is the conclusion arrived at that English ought to be dumbed down instead of people learning the language. It is yet again that we--the Man, Western society--are at fault, are wrong, and evil in any number of ways as expressed by the anarachistic Left; that British is in and of itself a bad thing.

Over time, this leads to the dilution of the majority's culture. In the new countries such as Australia, Canada, and the U.S. it means the dilution of the Judeo-Christian character of society. In the old countries it means the worse outcome of the elimination of the English, French, and German peoples, as examples. The United Kingdom, France, and Germany will end up being simply political entities with a homogeneous citizenry, but there will no longer be an English, French or German people. To some this is a sought after goal. Not for me.

I wonder if you really advocate a homogeneous Scotland one hundred years hence that includes no actual Scots. I for one would never want to see a world sans a Scots people.
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Christopher Seguin
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joebelanger wrote:
People that attack free speech should shut the hell up!


That implies that you are against the "Fairness Doctrine" here in the US, correct?
 
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I had a lecturersauron in physiology who would, at far too frequent intervals, quote what may have been salient points in, I believe, French and perhaps another language too, neither of I or most other students understood.

Keeping language effective for the purpose of the communication is a great idea by me.
 
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Louise Holden
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This has very little to do with immigration or assimilation. There are plenty of people who don't understand terms such as some Latin phrases or jargon in official letters who simply don't have the vocabulary to decipher them or the skills to work out what the gaps must mean, even if English is their first and only language.

Plain English in official communication isn't dumbing down; it's the only sensible way to actually be sure that you are communicating clearly with a member of the public whose language skills you have no way of gauging in advance. There's no point in writing them a letter that they aren't going to understand, just because that's the level of language the writer is most comfortable with.

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Isaac Citrom
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louiseh wrote:
This has very little to do with immigration or assimilation. There are plenty of people who don't understand terms such as some Latin phrases or jargon in official letters who simply don't have the vocabulary to decipher them or the skills to work out what the gaps must mean, even if English is their first and only language.

Plain English in official communication isn't dumbing down; it's the only sensible way to actually be sure that you are communicating clearly with a member of the public whose language skills you have no way of gauging in advance. There's no point in writing them a letter that they aren't going to understand, just because that's the level of language the writer is most comfortable with.



Yes: This is called dumbing down. Ad hoc is not jargon, though it is a less common phrase than others. You speak as if English was invented last week. My parents can barely spell in English and got by for 40 years just fine without having to have the common language dumbed down. Yes, there were times when they called me over to explain a word or three which is normal for their level of English comprehension. I don't understand this sudden requirement.
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Isaac Citrom
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Pinook wrote:
I had a lecturersauron in physiology who would, at far too frequent intervals, quote what may have been salient points in, I believe, French and perhaps another language too, neither of I or most other students understood.

Keeping language effective for the purpose of the communication is a great idea by me.


I too had a lecturer but in Economics. His accent was so thick that during the first 15 minutes' lecture he informed us that when he says "macroeconomics-aye" it means microeconomics and when he says "macroeconiomics-aiy" it means macroeconomics.

Often people here criticize seemingly outrageous hypothetical examples as too unlikely. Well, here's one that is not hypothetical. No, it is for people to come up to the standard, not for the standard to be lowered to the lowest common denominator.
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isaacc wrote:
No, it is for people to come up to the standard, not for the standard to be lowered to the lowest common denominator.
.

I disagree - when someone has a job that involves communicating then they have to make sure they are communicating effectively or acknowledge that effective communication is not possible and then deal with that.

A ridiculous and extreme example: You are pulled over by a policeman who begins to question you in a Scottish brogue indistinguishable, to you, from Lower Zairian patois. You have not the faintest idea wht he is saying.

After you don't answer his questions in a forthright and reasonable manner concerning your suggested escape from the Ebola quarrantine station he pulls out his gun and shoots you.

I say he failed in his job. You say he suceeded?
 
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Jorge Montero
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I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag. With Latin written on it that says "It's hard to give a shit these days"
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Newsflash: Banning of latin words banned!
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Christopher Seguin
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hibikir wrote:
Newsflash: Banning of latin words banned!


Those who were responsible for banning latin words have been sacked.
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Doubleplus good.
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Big Woo
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Isaac, I kinda get where you are coming from and there is certainly a point at which pandering to "others" gets silly. But it too far a stretch for me to follow you to your state of alarm that my post seems to have triggered, one that simply pointed out that this is not a council banning Latin in all situations, but simply a memo to its staff about effective communication when dealing with a certain target group.

Quote:
It is about the right to remain ignorant and the right not to assimilate.


Somewhere in there is an assumption/accusation of "bad" unwillingness of the non-native involved, rather than an assumption of "good" co-operation. If someone has been here for 15 years, fair enough. If someone just stepped off the plane for whatever reason, maybe not so.

Quote:
Indeed, one aspect is the converse of the other. Instead of immigrants making the effort to learn the standard, this notion revolves around dumbing down the standard itself.


Nope, not in the slightest. It is about supplying effective and appropriate information. Something which can be the sole purpose of the exchange anyway. And certainly should be at the forefront of the awareness of a professional working for a public body that is there for the good of the widest possible public.

If a council reminds or instructs its staff to avoid certain phrases when dealing with people with specific language requirements, that is good practise. It takes quite a bit of if-if-ifs to make that bad by definition. Or climb up a hill all the way to "handing over our culture to the Other".

For starters, it might well help people to assimilate, rather than throw up extra, and avoidable barriers. Getting pedantic about the Queens English when it is an early "immigrant" contact is just plain stupid. Getting pedantic after 10 years is more understandable, and I agree, even appropriate. In those circumstances I would consider "etc" also more than appropriate. "Prima Facie" still less so.

I have actually had some experience with dealing with new arrivals from abroad who don't speak the native language well, or at all, and I can tell you that in more than one case it isn't about "dumbing down" when you try to engage with people at a level that has meaning to them, especially when you are the person they rely on to ease you into the wider society, or who has the duty to make it clear to you what the implication is of a decision that an official body has come to.

Quote:
By what reasoning is the conclusion arrived at that English ought to be dumbed down instead of people learning the language.


As a standard applied to all? Not,. And the council did not either, by the sound of things, despite the tone of the reporting.

The reasoning?

That dumbing down might well be appropriate when people are still learning the language, or haven't had an adequate chance yet to get "to that level". A council frequently deals with new arrivals. Hence the memo. Your outrage seems disproportionate to the potential situation that is is trying to address.

Quote:
It is yet again that we--the Man, Western society--are at fault, are wrong, and evil in any number of ways as expressed by the anarachistic Left; that British is in and of itself a bad thing.


Ah, I see. Your starting point is tainted by an extrapolation all the way to the worst-case scenario! And THE LEFT is at it agin. Yawn. Yeah, Britain is overrun by rampant lunie lefties.

Your portrayal of the world I live in is not one I recognize at all, and no amount of over the top stereotyping will get me there either.

No-one has made this particular accusation here yet, but you already feel that this memo too must have been part of that wider move to hand over "our culture". OK. You feel under pressure of the "other" cultures "taking over". That is certainly consistent with your past postings on similar subjects.

Quote:
Over time, this leads to the dilution of the majority's culture. In the new countries such as Australia, Canada, and the U.S. it means the dilution of the Judeo-Christian character of society. In the old countries it means the worse outcome of the elimination of the English, French, and German peoples, as examples.


Some certainly feel that way. Others don't see it that way. Some actually warmly welcome this new culture as "more reflective of mine too". Cultures have always changed, but feel free to crave one and argue for the one you like best. I do the same.

Mine is one in which a welcome newcomer is greeted with words that help them to get to a place where I would like to see them end up, for my benefit.

Quote:
The United Kingdom, France, and Germany will end up being simply political entities with a homogeneous citizenry, but there will no longer be an English, French or German people. To some this is a sought after goal. Not for me.


Uniform "Multicultural" is not a goal for me either, in the sense that it isn't something I am aiming for. Nor is keeping my society something that it is not, or no longer is. And the last thing I would like to see is it all looking and sounding the same. I enjoy diversity, and the richness that others can add.

Quote:
I wonder if you really advocate a homogeneous Scotland one hundred years hence that includes no actual Scots. I for one would never want to see a world sans a Scots people.


No actual Scots? Right. Something tells me that it will take a "wee" while before that happens.

And you are aware that I am Dutch and live in Edinburgh? like a gazillion other foreigners, Edinburgh has quite a draw. And that Scots live all over the place too, Amsterdam included? And happily so? That Scotland actually craves for people to settle here to top up a dwindling population? That an influx into the Highlands from outsiders certainly has brought some conflict, but also helped to rejuvinate areas that were rapidly losing that younger generation and with it a viable future?

I am a first generation immigrant, and will never become a true Scot. Love the place, but I am from elsewhere. But if we had kids, I am sure they would turn out like all the other second and third generation "foreigners" I meet all the time. Scottish. I have never thought of the ones I meet as "not from here", and, more importantly, neither do they!

One of the proudest clansmen in Calender is from Italian descent. He's more "Scottish" than many of the folk that are, whatever that means. He is firmly rooted here, and is an enthusiastic clansman (not the touristy fake variety). So in a 100 years time, there's hope for Scots living here yet.

There is also a weird irony in the fact that as a Dutch newcomer here, I have done more than some Scots when it comes to promoting their culture and heritage? Old and new.

But all that is a long way from a council telling its staff to communicate effectively in English, and BGG getting upset about it under a misplaced Freedom of Speech banner.

It has been a long time since I arrived (I still had to be approved before I could enter - that long ago), but I certainly hope that the quality of information and the helpfulness of council staff to new arrivals has improved since I got here.
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chrisnd wrote:
joebelanger wrote:
People that attack free speech should shut the hell up!


That implies that you are against the "Fairness Doctrine" here in the US, correct?

So a chicken and a road walk into a bar...
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Drew1365 wrote:

And in a copycat incident . . .

Quote:
Student Demands 'Niggardly' be Prohibited at University of Wisconsin (02/03/99)


... made all the more embarrassing by the fact that the poor, offended student was a Junior English major, who in theory should have some sort of basic appreciation for language. What an embarrassment.

If this galls me as a free speech advocate, it absolutely infuriates me as a literature and language person.

On the plus side, her idiotic outburst actually resulted in prompting the University to remove its draconian faculty speech code, so the good guys actually won for once.
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If you are performing a task given (and paid for) by your employer, is your employer entitled to set parameters when that employee, as a representative of that employer, communicates with members of the public?

I'm trying to sidestep the question What was considered inappropriate, and am curious about the Why. Or how some people just need to grow up a bit and learn how to deal with exposure to words. Or not.

"Free Speech" has been brought up twice now, but twice it was for people in a representative position in an official capacity dealing with the public (or customers). To me there is a fundamental difference between a random individual who is limited in free expression, and someone who has accepted a role that has a representative element, and is asked by its employer to refrain from certain expressions.

To me elevating the latter into the "Free Speech" terrain devalues the importance of the Free Speech concept. As far as I can see it is simply a consequence of an accepted contract, one in which you offer a type service in exchange for money. Accepting the contract means that you also accept the consequence of obligations. Following company standards in dealing with the public being one of them.

So whilst you can have a discussion about the appropriateness of certain rules or guidelines, I fail to see how this is being bannered as a Free Speech issue.

Thoughts?




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joebelanger wrote:
People that attack free speech should shut the hell up!


People should get beat up for stating their beliefs.
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There are a small number of words of latin origin that are in common usage and to me they're just part of the English language. Just like any other words they have no obvious intrinsic meaning, you have to learn what they mean.

louiseh wrote:
The removal of Latin technical terms from much of our legal processes only took place a few years ago- until then the actual process of taking someone to court or being tried for an offence was shrouded in so much Latin language that only a legal professional could really understand it. (I'm now completely failing to find any reference to this process however and am wondering if I dreamed it in a more than usually boring dream).

Even without latin lawyers speak a bizarre pseudo-English the only purpose of which is to obfuscate.
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