Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A signpost in the semantics struggle

I'm intrigued by Daniel B. Klein's semantics project Lost Language, Lost Liberalism.

The basic idea is that what is now called classic liberalism or libertarianism was once called "liberalism" but progressives have stolen and redefined key words that make it difficult for us to discuss important ideas. The page contrasts the modern usage of those key words with classical uses.

For example, my ongoing struggle with hearing the term "justice" brandied about by redistributionists who think people are entitled to the fruit of someone else's labor:

I like Klein's intentions here, but I'm not sure if anyone will read it except people like me who already agree with him. The writing style is blocky and could use some exposure to George Orwell's rules of writing, which will scare away some people.

It's still interesting. I'm especially fond of his use of Google tools to track the usage of certain phrases, such as how "The United States" was used as a plural until 1880, and has since become a singular.

I think this is a great start here, but Klein has more work to do to make this project shine.

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