Strong language and rants identified

English is a highly evolved hybrid language that gives great advantage to those skilled in its civilized use.

DON AHLQUIST

Guest Columnist

English is a highly evolved hybrid language that gives great advantage to those skilled in its civilized use.

As with all things of value however, diligent maintenance must be performed to ensure that its evolution does not become its devolution and my complaint is that the linguistic trend of recent years is devolving. People are less likely to be admired for fluent language than they are for effluent language if you will pardon the pun.

Rant: “to speak or shout at length in a wild impassioned way.”

“Bombastic or extravagant speech or language. (Webster)”

Why are rants so popular these days?

The ‘rant’ is often a vehicle of comedic expression in the guise of righteous indignation. It is also most frequently punctuated by vulgar and even vile expressions.

I have never seen the common garden-variety rant provoke serious rumination or reason. Perhaps I lack the sophistication or perception necessary to grasp the full depth of humor and entertainment in that form and with that possibility in mind I will stretch my generosity to its elastic limit and concede that there must be some entertainment value to it. I genuinely apologize if I am perceived as commenting with ad hominem intent.

Strong language: “Markedly or unwarrantedly forcible or vehement manner of expression or choice of words. (Webster)”

I object strongly and adamantly to this dictionary definition.

“Strong language” historically suggested convincing argument, powerful oratory, a skillfully crafted appeal to reason. The kind of language Churchill used to inspire his beleaguered nation to take heart in the most dire of circumstances. This is the kind of language Mahatma Gandhi used to appeal to the highest moral virtues in man. Can you imagine the banality of a mere rant at those times?

Why is the caution “warning-strong language” so frequently displayed? You can invariably expect that what is to follow is not strong at all but most often weak, churlish, vile and insipid.

When presented with the opportunity to convey a thought in dignified language, the option to merely spew venomous prose seems too frequently preferred.

“The pen (it used to be said) is mightier than the sword.” Nowadays, many of those who wield it are unfamiliar with its historic power and influence and seem completely satisfied to genuflect as a parade of jejune drivel merrily passes by.

 

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