Friday, July 13, 2007

Asceticism and peevology

So, part of the brilliance of the term peevology is that it makes really clear what those folks are about. As I've worked out very slowly in this space over recent weeks, I'm coming to realize that it's not worthwhile to deal with them much for linguistic purposes. (We are, as Bo Diddley said recently in a moment of nouning, a nation of slow understanders.)

Anyway, one thing that has come into focus with this is that these folks are really denying themselves the pleasures of language. Like a lot of linguists, I've mostly thought of these folks as elitists, interested in asserting power over those who don't obey their rules. But it also involves a kind of denial, asceticism.

In some sense, this is one of the cultural divides in our culture:
  • People who really revel in how you can be creative with language in a fundamental way (hip-hop [leaving aside the really formulaic junk], good 'colorful rural sayings', and of course lots of slang).
  • People who can't actually enjoy language — Safire probably gets some pleasure from the Bard, but that's kind of the missionary position of language enjoyment.


Anonymous said...

"the missionary position of language enjoyment" I love it! I want to start a blog with that name!

Mr. Verb said...

When you do, just put me in your blog roll, please. Seems a little risque for this blog, but I couldn't get another image to work nearly as well.