The English language evolved over centuries in response to many social changes, but who had the most influence on how we speak and write?
The rich and powerful?
Some other influence?
The obvious answer is the rich and powerful because for centuries that included the church. Nobody sat round a table and designed our language, but in an important sense the rich and powerful have always owned it via their grip on publishing, newspapers, magazines, cinema, radio, television and now the internet. So where does that leave us today?
An intriguing but tricky aspect of language is the way it so easily distorts our view of reality, almost as if it evolved to assist successful lying. Not by design but by centuries of evolution and the tendency of all elites to control behaviour by lying. Do as I say not as I do has to be a feasible message for the masses and language seems to help.
Suppose we replace words such as true and false with words such as accurate and inaccurate? To do so offers a significant advantage in that it shifts the focus towards what can be demonstrated or observed. Accuracy seems to demand real world validation where truth often demands no more than passive acceptance. Which one suits the rich and powerful?
If we make a switch from truth to accuracy then we are likely to find vast areas of political, religious and artistic discourse cannot be described as accurate unless purely descriptive. Otherwise they tend to lack this essential element of demonstrability.
This is more significant than fiddling around with words because our ordinary concept of truth is widely used to peddle untruths. A very common aspect of blogging is how numerous official narratives are exposed as untrue by detailed analysis – by checking the accuracy.
Unfortunately our ancient link between truth and authority seems to discourage the extra effort required to check narratives for accuracy. If we link truth with accuracy it becomes obvious why we should make the effort. Many don’t because that’s another important word – effort.