Use your words

Monday, June 21, 2010

At the New York Review, Tony Judt looks at the decline of articulacy, which he traces to our culture's lack of confidence in what we know, and a fear of getting it wrong. Inarticulacy hedges our bets:

Shoddy prose today bespeaks intellectual insecurity: we speak and write badly because we don’t feel confident in what we think and are reluctant to assert it unambiguously (“It’s only my opinion…”). Rather than suffering from the onset of “newspeak,” we risk the rise of “nospeak.

I'm making a giant leap, but it almost reminds me of the way we teach our children to express themselves. "Use your words," we say. My nearly two-year-old daughter knows quite a few words, but either out of habit or lack of confidence she often resorts to pointing and grunting to get her point across. She makes herself understood and we could leave it at that, but it's important that she learns how to articulate it. I'll forward this article to her iPhone so she can review it later.