Thursday, August 12, 2004

VRP Elucidated

A favorite, especially in adjective form.

I have this lingering fear that fascinating and clever words are disappearing from our vocabularies. Many of our speech patterns could be best summarized as like, um, whatever and our society seems to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator. This process is exemplified by rap music, where every third word would appear like **** on this blog, and the main theme of every album is as follows:

I’m the man
Because I talk trash
And pull triggers
And get girls pregnant
I’m the man

The problem with simplistic, repetitive language is that it can only express one type of idea—you know, the simplistic, repetitive kind. Which is cool…if you’re operating a jack hammer or jogging…for the rest of the foreseeable future.

But more complex—and more valuable—ideas deserve more complex language. In fact, they require it. Example: It’s not possible to express the concept of “beauty” (even allowing for different interpretations) using only the words found in the lyrics of a 50 Cent album.

For us to live and die properly, things have to be named properly. Let us reclaim our words. - John Berger

So. Really engaging dialogue and writing must not be allowed to go the way of the dinosaur. And while others are doing their part (WORLD, Credenda Agenda, The Wall Street Journal, great authors…), this ought to be a grassroots effort as well. And to this end I am launching the Vocabulary Reclamation Project (VRP), a movement intent on getting the power of words back into the mouths of the people.

As founder and sole member of the VRP (so far), I will be searching for ways to subversively insert piquant and mesmeric words into my posts. (Ok, so that sentence was overkill.) But if you occasionally see a truly scintillating (or somewhat obscure) word on my blogs, marked by an asterisk, you can breath a sigh of relief, and, if necessary, check the definition. The VRP is on the job.

(Care to join the inner circle?)