[RD] Language “purity,” “respectability,” and “competency”


Super Moderator
Dec 24, 2001
Albuquerque, NM
Formalized rules of language are power plays. Any number of lectures on this topic, by Chomsky himself, are available on YouTube.
Just as "new informal rules of language" are. We invent new words and phrases to make a point or to change minds. Youtube is full of people pontificating about how right they are nd how wrong and bad everyone else is. For every Noam Chomsky there is an equally self righteous expert on the other side proclaiming the Truth.

Words, often with images or music, are how we communicate. They are powerful in the hands of the well-spoken. When one wants to make changes, changing the language and the words in use can change the dialog and reinforce the effort. This is nothing new or even special. :)

Link to video.

Valka D'Ur

Hosting Iron Pen in A&E
Retired Moderator
Mar 3, 2005
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
When I watch British TV shows or movies, I usually need the subtitles on or I will quickly lose track of the conversations.
How much PBS do you watch? The Spokane station usually shows a variety of "Britcoms" on the weekend, and they used to run all six seasons of Downton Abbey. Between these and other britcoms and dramas, I've been exposed to a variety of accents for the last 40+ years.

Another question might be how much Shakespeare have you watched? There are some classically-trained British Shakespearean actors who I would listen to if they read the phone book. They're that good.

That said, there are some accents I can't follow. I used to try to watch a talk show... I don't remember who the host was, but holy crap, most of the people in the audience seemed to talk like they had at least a dozen marbles and a bag of cotton balls in their mouths. I finally gave up.

One of my friends in junior high was from Scotland. I remember there were times when I had to ask her to repeat what she said, because of an unfamiliar word or the stress being on a different syllable.

Some people in the UK need subtitles to understand others from the UK.

That is not a strong accent IMO (but I did live in Scotland for 7 years).
That first accent could cut paper. Honestly, I barely understood about a third of what he said.

I guess it's like a Western Canadian trying to understand people from particular regions of Newfoundland. We don't find it easy.


Oct 15, 2003
The Dream
I don't think it's fair to term Chomsky as "self-righteous", if that term actually implies some people are not.
From all lectures of his I have watched, he always links his views to elaborated ideas about truth and ethics. Some people built a career out of either just professing such a basis, being unable to actually present a convincing argument about their ethics having near-universal application, or (which perhaps is the worst) think they are beyond any ethics yet still somehow justified in arguing about political change.
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