Standing Athwart Progress, Literally

Dear Reader (Especially the heroic Tulsi Gabbard campaign that refuses to buckle under the misogyny that forced Elizabeth Warren from the race),

I’m getting a very late start today on account of the badgers—if by “badgers” you mean a contractor and his crew who were supposed to be at my house this morning and then never showed. But admittedly, that would be a very weird use of the word “badger.” So let’s not dwell on that.

But since you brought it up, I do get frustrated with the misuse of words. This is one of these areas where I am guilty of cognitive dissonance, which is a more highfalutin way of saying I understand one thing to be true but I often feel otherwise. 

I think the brilliant linguist John McWhorter is absolutely convincing when he argues that words are always changing their meaning. Well, the words aren’t doing the changing; they’re not sentient entities. Rather, the meaning of words is constantly changing to fit the needs of speakers and societies. It’s all very, very Hayekian—which in lowfalutin language means “Duh, that’s right.” 

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