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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

U talkin' 2 me?


Ian Hunter, professor emeritus in the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario, scores a bullseye writing about The bombast and jargon of 'U-speak'(Canada's National Post of Thursday, July 17, 2003).

Some excerpts:

Now that I am no longer employed at a "centre of excellence" (a Canadian university), daily engaged in the "pursuit of excellence," I no longer need maintain the fictions which sustain university life; for example, that the current crop of semi-literate undergraduates are "the best educated generation in history." Given that few entering university can either read or write, this might be thought a difficult shibboleth to maintain. But, no, not where "diversity" is the goal and "tolerance" the watchword; not in institutions engaged in a postmodern rejection of truth and falsity; not in institutions too intellectually troubled to affirm the multiplication tables. Instead, everyone plays along and few are so boorish as to comment upon the Emperor's nakedness. Anyway, the pay is good, one's colleagues are, for the most part, amiable, so why rock the boat?

One unexpected consequence that I discovered on leaving the university was a feeling of liberation. Ironically, the very institution that invented tenure to safeguard free speech has become a place of stultifying political correctness. Small wonder that a former U.S. secretary of education called universities " ... islands of repression in a sea of freedom."...

In his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell foresaw a time when words would be chosen not to reveal but to conceal the speaker's true intention. So, a contemporary university engaged in discriminating by race, gender, etc., in hiring appends to each job advertisement the reassuring words: "We are an equal opportunity employer."

Orwell also pointed out that the road to linguistic totalitarianism is paved with such lesser grotesqueries, such as pompous words where a simple word would do ("At this point in time" instead of "now"); and padded sentences to give a false impression of profundity...

Universities are rife with a leaden combination of jargon and bombast. Universities no longer "teach"; they "deliver modules across a wide range of courses within the undergraduate programs." Faculty no longer do research; they "support and extend the capacity of the research function."

At the University of Western Ontario students do not come to learn; no, according to the "mission statement" they attend "a community of learning" to " ... unite the past, present and future by preserving and extending the frontiers of knowledge." On arrival, they discover that "the buildings form Western's physical body, however our Faculty and students constitute its neural network." The Mission statement goes on in a similar vein, but I shall spare you...

...A student blessed with an innate capacity for clear expression is likely to find it sapped by attending such institutions.

Unfortunately, tertius has to report that, in the words of the immortal Lili Von Schtupph, "it's twue, it's twue, it's twue, it's twue!"

9:21:00 pm