Re: unusual language

Steve Finley (Finley@TTDCE1.COED.TTU.EDU)
Tue, 8 Oct 1996 09:39:54 +0000

Steve K:

I don't think people are dismissing this "unusual language" "out of
hand," as you said. I imagine that many of the objectors to it are,
like I am, sick to damn death of the conscious, even
hyperselfconscious, use of language to hold them
uneducated-unwasheds at a distance. As for the fact that jargon
occurs in virtually every field, two things: 1) Just 'cause Bobby
did it, does that mean you have to? If Bobby jumped off a
bridge...? and 2) I suspect, depending on which field you're
talking about and to which person's speech you're referring, my
unresearched impression is that most other people in most other
fields don't go to the extraordinary lengths to which English profs
go in an attempt to build an obscuring wall of bullshit.

I said, MOST other fields, and again, we're talking about use of
language, not a direct and obvious attempt at obfuscation. You're
pretty much aware of the relative probability that a used-car dealer
is going to try to separate you from as much money as [s]he can, but
what makes this English/comp/rhet crud so heinous is that people in
the profession do much of this obfuscation purposefully while
disavowing it, acting shocked and highminded and saying things that
are denotatively true like, e.g., that when you discuss complex ideas
you're going to tend toward a complex, specialized vocabulary.
Although that latter is true, much of the obfuscating language we've
all seen from graduate school on into the profession is done on
purpose by people who then act mortified and morally offended if
it's pointed out to them. That's chickens***, and we all know it.
Most of the people on this list, yourself included, don't seem to be
the type to do this sort of thing, but I'll bet we all know some who
do, and avoid them.

s finley